As many ministries around the world, in early March of this year, DeepStream’s Educational Center, here in the village of Buena Vista, Guatemala, was forced to go off script and began writing a new way of doing life and reaching people with the Gospel.
Before the pandemic, our center was full of life as over 220 students and staff would arrive each day to what has become an oasis in the midst of this village. Gospel-centric ministry takes its form each day through the primary avenue of education, which we believe is empowering an entire generation towards a new way of doing life and understanding wholeness—a wholeness found primarily in Jesus and secondarily through steps towards more dignified opportunities in their future.
One Monday morning in early March we were told by our government that meeting was no longer allowed. We were uncertain of the future and instead we had as many questions as you can possibly imagine. What do we do now? How do we move forward each day and still get the Gospel message out to a village with very little access to internet? How do we continue serving our team of staff and students, again, with little or no access to online mediums?
Answering these questions became our top priority during those first days and we have seen God move in incredible ways—to witness what our team of national staff has accomplished in the past eight weeks has been inspiring, to say the least.
When the changes hit, we dug in and remained steady to our core mission—educate students and point them to Jesus.
- Our school staff began putting together packets of work—physical pages for students to work through weekdays. The students then would turn them in each week and receive more work for the following days. These packets have included spiritual encouragement, Bible verses and an opportunity for our students to share prayer requests with our team each week.
- For those who can get online periodically, we prepare online devotionals and circulate them throughout our entire team. Our staff has been able to receive this spiritual nurturing more frequently because of their access to the internet.
To date, we have continued to move forward with these two core goals while we are not able to meet in our facilities.
A New Challenge
In early April, a few weeks into the pandemic, we became more aware of the urgent physical need in our area and around the entire country. In a nation that has no “government stimulus checks” the level of need has grown rapidly, and a third goal was then added to our ministry vision: feeding the hungry.
We were convinced that our village’s needs could not go unnoticed and hunger could not be overlooked. Over the past three weeks we have identified around 150 families with dire need due to lack of work, public transportation being closed, or business shut down because of government regulations. Our national staff team has undertaken the task to go to the streets and investigate the needs around us. The number of families grows each week and we believe the number of families in need will settle in around 200 families—all with the basic need of food distribution.
A Gospel that Works
From what we are seeing, Guatemala is around two months from reopening on the level we need it to be “back to normal”, and we foresee that there will be a two to three month lag in people getting back to work and sustaining life as before. Our goal is to aid these families three to four times over the course of the next few months, in order to stand in the gap with them.
As we visit with a family, they are given 25 lbs of corn, 10 lbs of beans, rice, sugar, oatmeal, breakfast foods, milk, fortified protein drinks for the children and much more, a gift which helps them for around two weeks. We pray with them and learn more about each situation. We share the Gospel, read Scripture and take time to encourage them in this great time of need, letting them know that God sees them, hears their prayers, and that we are here for them on His behalf.
Until the pandemic ends, this is what we believe life is going to be about for our family and team at DeepStream. Our heart’s desire is to be a voice of peace and hope to our village during this challenging time. We are seeing God provide and open new doors for ministry in the homes around us. We are excited for the lives that God will rescue and change as result of this effort! Today more than ever, we acknowledge that the Gospel is indeed, “the power of God unto salvation,” Rom. 1:16.