How We Accidentally Planted a Church

Acts 29: Churches Planting Churches

We drove down a dusty dirt road, wondering when we’d reach our destination. We were told it was only three miles from the main highway, but the washed-out road and muddy terrain made it feel a lot longer.

My wife and I had arrived in Guatemala just a couple months prior, and we were both eager (read: nervous) to get to know the people of the village we were driving toward. God had compelled us to “rescue those being led away to death; [and to] hold back those staggering toward slaughter” (Prov. 24:11). Despite our nervous excitement, we were confident his grace would be sufficient.

Watch the story of rural church planting in Guatemala

Apart from preaching the gospel and trusting God to grant fruit, we had no plan. It quickly became evident that, although there was an evangelical church in the area, most people in the village didn’t understand the gospel. Roman Catholicism was the predominant religion saturating not only our small community, but also the majority of the country. Technically, almost 25 percent of Guatemalans are evangelical Christians, but many are legalistic or prosperity-driven. The need for healthy doctrine was, and still is, crucial.

Little did we know, we’d soon be starting a church in this rural village tucked away in the mountains.

Saved Sinners

Our brother and fellow gospel minister, Esau, played a crucial role alongside us in the village of Los Chilitos, where we started going frequently to befriend the locals. We went with a strong desire to preach the gospel. Over time, we made friends and gathered enough people to start a Bible study. This small group of villagers met in the home of a man named Cayetano, and—little by little—people started getting saved.

At first Cayetano himself was resistant to the gospel. He came from a strong Roman Catholic background, and was even somewhat hostile toward us. By God’s mysterious providence, however, he continued to allow us to use his house as a meeting space for our weekly Bible study. Knowing that even the hardest of hearts is no match for God’s sovereign grace, we prayed fervently for Cayetano and his family.

Then, after we’d been meeting in their home for months, Cayetano, his wife, and all five of their children were saved and baptized! Immediately, God began using this family in a tremendous way to reach their own community. Friends, family, and neighbors came to know the Lord through their testimony.

What my wife and I had longed for in coming to Guatemala was actually happening—people heading for eternal death were being rescued by the Lord of life.

The sight was stunning to behold. What my wife and I had longed for in coming to Guatemala was actually happening—people heading for eternal death were being rescued by the Lord of life. Not only was God at work in the village of Los Chilitos, but he was also changing my own heart.

Planted Church

My wife and I came to Guatemala with a desire to give everyone an opportunity to say “yes” to Christ. We quickly realized, however, that our Bible study was turning into much more. A treasured prayer I’ve prayed over the years has been, Lord, please show us where you are moving, and how we can be a part of it. I don’t know how you might use us, but we want to be faithful. Show us. Teach us. Lead us.

And thus began God’s work in my heart to step into a pastoral role. We outgrew the house we were meeting in, so we built a place of worship. Planting a church became the result of our efforts in Los Chilitos, despite the fact we didn’t come with that intent. Since all of this was so new to us, we partnered with Casa de Libertad, an Acts 29 church in Guatemala City. They’ve been instrumental in seeing our church planted.

Hopeful Future

Six years later, we still drive down that dusty dirt road to Los Chilitos almost daily. Our small Bible study has turned into a local church, with more than 50 people gathering for services each week. It truly is a testament to what God has done. In 2020, we are starting a church-residency program to train men from the community (including Cayetano) to become pastors. Our desire is to see a local indigenous pastor lead the church and to someday plant another church in a nearby village.

There are countless small, rural villages in Guatemala that need healthy churches.

If we believe Scripture is true and that the lost are heading for eternal darkness, then we must go and share the only means of escape found in Jesus Christ. There are countless small, rural villages in Guatemala that need healthy churches. We cling to the promise that Jesus will build his church (Matt. 16:18) and be worshiped in the forgotten, rural parts of Guatemala—and across the globe.

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