As we are getting ready to celebrate our first Christmas here in Belize we have been so grateful for the cool weather to put us in the holiday mood. It has been an average of a chilly 74 each day this week!! We are also extremely thankful for all the support, love and prayers from each one of you. We have been so blessed to be able to begin to work on projects at the church, cover the cost of ministry activities and be present in the lives of the people in this community only because of the generosity and support of all of you. Thank you!
While Maddie’s preschool class practiced their Christmas program at church I was sitting there trying to start this newsletter but was just too distracted by their little voices singing “Oh Holy Night” (now Maddie’s favorite song), so I sent Gerson a message asking for ideas.
“Vos, what have you seen God do over these last few months? What has He been speaking to you?”
This is his quick response that I received back on WhatsApp:
-I think that God has begun to restore the testimony of the church here in this community. Little by little they are realizing that the church didn’t disappear or shut their doors like many people had thought. So many people walk by when I am at the church and the most common comment I hear is “Oh, I thought the church closed.” One by one we’re getting to tell them nope, we have service on Sunday, you should come join us!
-In the past six months we have seen three families and start attending the church who had never come before, and about 10 people return who were members of the church before and now are attending regularly. The months before we arrived there were 2 or 3 in the church and now there are about 20 people on average here worshipping God, being filled with His Spirit and hearing His word every Sunday. As we are beginning, still learning so much, and adapting to the culture, we haven’t implemented any program or done anything to formally invite people, God is simply drawing them in and moving in their lives.
-Little by little we can see God giving us grace to earn the trust of the people here, and culturally this is not something easy to do. There are families that have let us into their problems, some horrible circumstances that they have been going through. They are things we could never have imagined having to confront, and they have allowed us to pray with them and be there for them. We have seen God move in their hearts and draw them near to Him in situations where they would otherwise lose all hope completely.
-We have been hanging out with the youth and young adults at our house regularly to pray and talk about what God is doing in our lives and even were able to take two of them to the Me-40 leaders conference in El Salvador. When we got back they shared what God had done in their lives and it was a very impactful time for them. One of them said, “This conference surpassed my expectations, I want to do so much more for God, we should be out there ministering and sharing God with people.” We know that these youth are a huge part of the foundation that God is slowly building right now, He wants to shape them into solid leaders in this church.
-In the school we get the opportunity to share each week with the kids and teachers, building relationship with them and teaching them about God’s love and truth. It’s pretty fun seeing the trust we’re earning with kids and how excited they are when we get to the school. They all come running up to give high-fives.
I was just remembering that a word God spoke to us over and over again as we were visiting Churches in the US was that He was sending us to restore and I think that is exactly what He is doing. He is allowing us to restore the church, to unite and restore relationship, to restore vision.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas celebrating the awesome reality of our Savior, Immanuel, God with us.
Gerson and Ami Gutierrez
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If you’d like to see more picture of the past few months you can click here: Pictures