Yep, I’ve fallen behind in blog posts. But it’s not for lack of activity. On the contrary, it’s been a struggle to keep up with all that’s going on, let alone write about it. Cobán’s Antioch Presbyterian Church stays on the move, while the theological studies program is well into its 6th year. Another building project is underway at the Presbyterian Complex, and preparations are underway for numerous mission teams. Meanwhile, mission partnerships in other parts of Guatemala continue to address tremendous needs and witness to God’s grace.
As I try to catch up, let me give a loud shout out to the Outreach Foundation. Based in Franklin, Tennessee, this mission organization has been a key supporter of mission in Cobán for several years, raising missionary support for our family’s needs as well as funds for new training facilities in Cobán. The Outreach Foundation purpose is “connecting Presbyterians to build the church’s capacity to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Now, thanks to nurturing efforts of “Outreach,” mission partnerships are taking shape with two South Carolina congregations—Westminster PC of Charleston and John Knox PC of Greenville. “Outreach” organized a trip to Cobán to let pastors from these churches—Rev. Daniel Smoak and Rev. Gordon Turnbull respectively—see and hear God’s work here. They were accompanied by Outreach leaders—Rev. Rob Weingartner, Executive Director, and Rev Juan Sarmiento, Associate Director for Mission. During the visit, the delegation worshipped at Antioch Presbyterian Church, met with church leaders, toured the Presbyterian Complex, and dialogued with indigenous theology students at a nearby village (see photo).
As a follow-up to their experiences in Cobán, the pastors invited me to their churches. On back-to-back weekends in February, I traveled to Greeneville and Charleston to meet, preach, make presentations, and strategize with leaders about what an international partnership would mean for them. (See photo from Charleston) Boy, were these churches wonderful hosts! One dear woman from John Knox, LaRue Wait, even lent me her car for the week. Plans are underway with them for upcoming mission teams to join with local Guatemalans in constructing the training center, as well as financial support for our mission assignment.
Church-to-church mission partnerships are a growing phenomenon, making possible long-term relationships and personal involvement in ongoing faith-based projects. Organizations like the Outreach Foundation help churches find potential international partners, while addressing concerns about reasonable risks, manageable costs, and fears about “getting in over our heads.” To learn more about the Outreach Foundation, check-out their website: www.theoutreachfoundation.org.