Wednesday, January 16
How many have you?” When Jesus asks this question, a small boy comes forward with five loaves and two fish. He had food to share because his mother had packed a lunch for him.
At the Evangelical Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA), we know that women are the ones who feed the world. Yet women are working not only to sustain the world but to change it. Through the Women’s Pastoral Program of CEDEPCA, women gain the skills to make changes in their personal lives and beyond. They learn to read the Bible through their experiences and thus are able to recognize the hands of women, like the mother of this small boy, at work behind the texts.
In Coban, five women who took CEDEPCA courses now serve as volunteer legal mentors. Whereas before they thought of violence against women as something natural and inevitable, they now understand the need to denounce it. Rumalda, Alicia, America, Irma, and Sandra are ready to accompany women who are victims of violence as they report it to the police and file charges against their aggressors. They also help victims obtain legal, psychological, and pastoral help. CEDEPCA has been participating in God’s mission for more than 25 years. Each year more than 3,000 women are reached through the Women’s Pastoral Program.
—Rev. Neli Miranda, academic dean, Biblical and Theological Training, CEDEPCA; Elder Betty Carrera de Paz, Guatemala coordinator, Women’s Pastoral Program, CEDEPCA; and Rev. Dr. Karla Ann Koll, PC(USA) mission co-worker
Why should I get an education? There are no jobs. I’ll still be a [subsistence] farmer like my father even if I graduate.” Painfully, I silently had to agree with this Q’eqchi’ young man, even while urging him to stay in school.
The Q’eqchi’ people live in north central Guatemala—an area that has seen verdant jungles reduced to pasture land for export cattle, thousands of acres devoted to the cultivation of the water-and-fertilizer-demanding African palm oil tree to support international ethanol production, and increased drug trafficking due to the unceasing demand from the U.S. market. Institutions are not strong, and corruption restricts the effectiveness of the army, the national police, and government ministries. The region is awash with problems that underscore its poverty.
People from Hillsboro Presbyterian Church of Nashville have been making trips here for many years. They and their Q’eqchi’ partners agreed that education was the only way out of poverty. There were few schools in the countryside but several public or private schools in the town of Sayaxché. They located sponsors, and now every year at least 30 kids go to school that would not have otherwise had the opportunity.
Jobs are still scarce, but hope and expectation now abound. Their collective effort—some in supporting education, others in pursuing their studies—is slowly working change in this challenged area. God has taken the simple offer of an education and turned it into a continuous stream, equally influencing the lives of those in Guatemala and those in the U.S.
—Roger Marriott, former PC(USA) mission co-worker
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) People in Mission
National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala: Bacilia Beisswenger, team ministry, Rev. Philip Beisswenger, facilitator, mission delegations and partnerships, Amanda Craft, women’s leadership development • Rev. Dr. Karla Koll, professor of history, mission, and religions, Evangelical Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA) and Latin American Biblical University • Marcia Towers, CEDEPCA, YAV site coordinator and partnership facilitator
Young Adult Volunteers
Annie Aeschbacher, Jensen Blankinship, Kate Garden, and Rachel Lee, community development interns, CEDEPCA
Let us join in prayer for:
National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG): Isaías García, permanent secretary, Miguel Ortega, moderator
with the IENPG: Albany Presbytery, Presbytery of Baltimore, Central Florida Presbytery, Presbytery of Cincinnati, Flint River Presbytery, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Heartland Presbytery, Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, Presbytery of Middle Tennessee, Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys, Mission Presbytery, New Castle Presbytery, Peace River Presbytery, and Presbytery of Western North Carolina
Partnership with the IENPG: Living Waters for the World
Let us pray
God our sustainer, we hear the voice of Jesus instructing us to give, to become vulnerable and available to the world around us, trusting in your promise of abundance. Still we wonder, “Are we enough?” May your Spirit fill us to overflowing, empowering us to share all that we are and all that we have, until every wanting heart, mind, stomach, and soul is satisfied. We know your continued presence will enable us to work with our partners for the benefit of all. Teach us that those on the margins have something of value to share with us. Amen.