Tuned In – Keeping Your Ears Open To God’s Voice
This radio tower stands tall above the village of Santa Clara. Santa Clara sits on the mountain top ridge as you drive out of the Lake Atitlan valley in Guatemala. The tower is not a lot different from what you might see in the United States, but this one represents something pretty significant in our trip to Guatemala.
Let me explain.
We spent most of our time in Xenacoj (or nearby), but part of our trip included an exploratory trip to Lake Atitlan (one of the ten most beautiful lakes in the entire world). The goal of this one day, one night trip was to find another location where GO! Ministries might be able to expand their ministry in Guatemala. After staying in a beautiful bed and breakfast on the coast of the lake and serving children in the village of San Pedro, we felt it was time to move on.
Nothing felt exactly right for expanding GO!’s reach until we stumbled upon the village of Santa Clara as we were driving back to Xenacoj on Thursday. When we stopped in Santa Clara, our intent was to stop for 15 minutes so our team could stretch their legs and one of our team members who was fighting illness could get some fresh air. Our fifteen minute pit stop turned into a 3 hour appointment.
After walking through the town square where local marching bands were playing in exhibition on what must have been a holiday in this town, we decided to walk through a few of the streets to get a better feel for the town. What was the need? Were they open to this type of ministry? Would the churches in Santa Clara welcome GO! Ministries as partners or would they cast them out?
While we were walking down one of the streets, we ran into a local pastor and his wife. It was as if God had set up this meeting. We ended up talking in the street for several minutes learning more about the town and its openness to missionaries. We learned a lot in those minutes. Santa Clara is about three times bigger than Xenacoj. The people in the town struggle with similar issues that inflicted Xenacoj. Poverty is one of the challenges in Santa Clara, and divorce is another challenge in Santa Clara.
We did our best to understand what was being said, but it was a challenge to understand the Spanish language being exchanged between the pastor, his wife, and our missionary friends.
We decided to take a walk to the pastor’s church. The church is also home to a school. We poked our heads into a couple of the classrooms. The children were amused at the site of “the Gringos”. We learned that the church was open to partnering with GO! Ministries and their martial arts ministry.
From there, we asked if they would join us for more conversation and a bite to eat. They agreed, and we ended up in a restaurant near our van.
As we sat down in the restaurant, it was amazing to listen as the discussion continued. Like Xenacoj, there were a mix of Catholic and Evangelical churches in the community. It appeared these churches do work together to a degree to spread the message of help. From our discussion, it was quite obvious that there was more need for help – spreading God’s Word, teaching, and helping with the widows and the orphans of the town.
Our missionary friend, Dave Sgro, had been praying about a place to expand their ministry. He was hoping to find a place that was similar to Xenacoj. He was hoping to find a place 3-4 hours away from Xenacoj. He was hoping to find a place open to break dancing and martial arts (two tools that they used in Xenacoj to engage with the community). And they were hoping to find the place where God was calling them.
It was interesting to watch this unfold.
Could this have happened if Dave had just prayed about it but stayed in Xenacoj? I suppose, but it doesn’t seem realistic to me.
Could this have happened if Dave and his family took a vacation to Lake Atitlan without thinking about expansion of the ministry? Again, I suppose, but I don’t think this would be realistic either.
After much prayer and thought, Dave took action by going to Lake Atitlan. He didn’t know exactly where he would land, but he realized that God had given him a vision for serving in another community, and he went. He had his antenna up as we explored the area right by the lake, and it didn’t feel right – it didn’t match the vision that God had laid upon his heart. He kept the antenna up as we began our journey home, and we “stumbled upon” the village of Santa Clara. Was it an accident? I don’t think so.
I will always remember this divine appointment in Santa Clara. How God uses GO! Ministries in this town is still being worked out, but I will forever be marked by what I experienced in our three-hour pit stop to Santa Clara.
How do you listen for God’s voice? What have you heard lately? And how will you respond to His voice?