Tag Archives: Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta

Blessed to visit Guatemala again

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This is how we did Photoshop before there was Photoshop.

Supposedly we were going to visit this waterfall on the way to Coban to do a medical clinic with our church, but it was too far and we didn’t have enough time. Maybe a fake photo will suffice?

img_2669It had been 18 years since I visited the lush rainforest city of Coban. I was a relatively new missionary at the time with a 2-year-old. I was watching Rebekah assiduously while she played in the park. But after following her bent over for some time, I straightened up to give my back a rest. It was at that moment she bolted in front of the trajectory of a metal swing with a kid on it. The iron swing smacked her forehead. Rebekah is still marked today by that hit, but thank God nothing worse happened.

img_2571We attended 2,100 people in four and a half days. I translated and helped logistics. Since I had been in Coban so many years aga, our church-planting mission, the Christian Fellowship Ministry, had started a church there, so we are praying that souls will be added to Pastor Jorge Cucul’s church. The Nazarene Bible Institute opened its doors to us to stage the clinic.

img_2751For the first time, I got to see a coffee plantation. Since I’m a fanatic, this was very interesting. They had a discussion about what varieties taste the best but are vulnerable to plagues. And I did zip line there.

img_2423I finished off preaching today in the City of Guatemala, in the church I started so many years ago. As always, I will miss you, Guatemala.

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God hasn’t given up on you

IMG_1180(1)Pablo was a great youth in our Guatemalan church. He was working on telephone lines with his cousin. Above on the ladder was his cousin, below, Paul held the ladder steady.

Then the cousin dropped a hammer (pictured), and it fell on Pablo’s head.

Ouch!

God in His mercy spared Pablo’s life. God is not done with you yet, hijo. He has many things for you to do still in the Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta.

Don’t think that God has given up on you, that He is finished with you. He still is working in your life, and He still wants to use you.

A whirlwind nurse keeps Lighthouse Medical Mission spinning

Lighthouse Medical Missions | GuatemalaAt the center of Lighthouse Medical Mission is a whirlwind named Alison Hagoski who performs triage, dispatches minor cases, tames the maelstrom and keeps the clinic cranking out patients efficiently.

The registered nurse doesn’t count how missions she’s been on. She counts the ones she’s missed: three of the 30 or so in almost two decades.

On Tuesday, Alison whipped through the pell-mell barking orders and sending patients to doctors or to pharmacy. The Guatemala clinic attended to 190 patients, about 50 of which she handled personally.

She’s an old school nurse who keeps her shift in order. She ministers with Christian love and a smile but with a firmness that lets you know who’s the boss. “What is this man doing here? He was here yesterday.” (Faced with poverty, more than one patient tries to get free medicine twice).

“This person needs to leave the clinic. She’s already received her meds.” “You’re blood pressure is fine. You’re medicine is working. Do you want some more medicines?” “You need to lose 10 pounds. No sodas. No rice. No bread. No tortillas.”

Her translator hustles to keep up with her in the school patio-turned-clinic. She interjects words in Spanish, with her thick New Zealander accent, sometimes correctly, sometimes erring. The words tumble out, even in French or Swahili or any random language of the nine countries she’s be to in Africa.

It is evident she enjoys working with people. She calls everyone, even grown men, “Doll” or ”Darling.”

Alison is 58 years but she works at a frenzied pace of someone much younger. Retired from UCLA, she practices privately rehab and nurse training. She lives with her husband, a cabinet maker, and youngest son in in a comfortable surfer’s house in Santa Monica. Read the rest of the article.

Running from death squads, he fell in with ‘Satan himself’

Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta zona 1 ciudad de Guatemala

Ismael Rodas (right) with Tino, whom he won to Christ after Tino was a homeless drunk for 40 years. They pose in the Door Christian Church of Guatemala City.

With one wrong turn, Carlos Rodas found himself wrenched between university protesters and gun-wielding police forces of the most repressive regime in the Americas at the time, that of Guatemalan president Romeo Garcia.

Police riddled his car with bullets and arrested him. The next day, Carlos was dead, after having been accused of being a communist subversive. He had $3,000 in his pocket at the time of his arrest, but now the money was gone.

Carlos’ brother, Ismael, was infuriated. Both he and Carlos had run a thriving bakery business and steered clear of politics.

“In the cemetery, I expressed my rage and my pain to my other brother,” Ismael says. “I wanted to know who the killers were and kill them and myself. I wanted to buy a machine guy. In those days you could still buy a machine gun. I wanted to waylay the chief of police because I knew where he passed every afternoon. I knew they would kill me, but that’s what I wanted to do.”

But Ismael worried about his wife and children, so he never executed his desperate plan.

Then the phone calls started coming in. It was always a stranger’s voice threatening him roughly. He had to leave the country within one month or he would be taken by a death squad. Suddenly severe anxiety mixed in with his anger and grief.

Ismael had studied with the Rosacrucian esoteric society and had also availed himself of Alcoholics Anonymous. But in this new crisis, these networks offering various mental and psychological tools were absolutely useless.

Ismael consulted experts in the occultic arts. A palm reader told him, without knowing his circumstances, that he was condemned to death. A “doctor” of yoga inquired supernaturally on his behalf but could offer no solution.

“You’re problem is very serious. If I place you in the North, there’s no room for you. If I place you in the South, there’s no room for you. Neither is there a place for you in the East or West,” the yoga man said, referring to metaphysical concepts. “You should leave the country, but it’s going to be difficult.”

But Ismael, was wary about leaving the country, even though he had U.S. residency. He worried that the military might ambush him en route.

The days passed and a death squad actually showed up at his home, but he wasn’t there. They ransacked the house. Security forces broke into his bakery, but fortunately Ismael had left. They tied up all the bakers and stole his money, Ismael recounts.

Seeking solace, Ismael turned to a warlock named Saoquin in the Florida neighborhood of Mixco, a city contiguous to the capital.

“He was Satan himself,” Ismael says. Read more about the warlock and ultimately freedom from sin the the rest of the incredible testimony.

A street kid off the streets, only through the power of Christ

Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta Zona 1 Ciudad Guatemala

Daniel poses with me a few days ago.

He slept on the streets with only cardboard boxes for a cushion — and he slept well “as if it were the best hotel in the world,” Daniel Paz says.

This was the life. Rebellious, he had left home when he was 14, and now the 20 or so street kids who inhabited the Plaza Mariachi in Guatemala City were his comrades of the wild, “happy” life of no rules, no one to tell him what to do, or what not to do.

The phenomenon of street children is widespread in Latin America, and governmental agencies have been largely ineffective in their efforts to rescue and re-incorporate into society the millions of minors who make their beds on cement. A large-scale effort in Brazil that institutionalized half a million street kids in 1985 failed, according to Wikipedia.

The key for Daniel, who spent 15 years on the streets, was Christ, and his story speaks to the church’s need to be the answer.

While his friends inhaled wood alcohol and shoe glue, Daniel kept the party life low key – mostly drinking beer and smoking. This was God moving in his life because the  cheaper drugs they consumed burned brain cells.

Daniel had accepted Christ once when he saw Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” in a church in his neighborhood when he was 12.

“Before that, I had never heard anything about Christ,” he says. “I knew nothing about the devil, about sin, about the world. I knew nothing about salvation.”

Unfortunately, Daniel didn’t keep attending services beyond two months. Rebelliousness won out – for a while.

After turning his back on his emerging faith, Daniel made his home in the streets. Most of the time, he made money selling plastic roses to romantic couples in restaurants and bars. A lot of his clients were the guys who fell for bar girls, who moonlighted as prostitutes.

Daniel was affable and flirted with these girls. They liked Daniel and would turn their charms on patrons: “Aw! Buy me a roooose” they would whine romantically. If the patron liked the girl, he would pay for it and give it to her.

For a brief period, Daniel fell into robbery. He and four street kids would strike at night surrounding any person who was walking home alone. They never used a weapon but would intimidate and demand the victim hand over wallet and cell phone. Read the rest of the article.

Just passing by turned into a miracle


“You know we just can´t pass by without stopping in to say Hi.

It is considered the height of rudeness in Guatemala to not dutifully greet EVERYONE. No being too busy.

So Dianna went in to see Surama, and I waited. Apparently the Holy Spirit took over. She asked Surama if she had spoken in her heavenly language lately. The question provoked panic which brought repentance. Surama, who had lived years as a deadened Christian, came alive with a vibrancy with which she is still serving Jesus. She works at the school I started.

When you serve Christ 24-7, you never know when God will use you. Now God is using Surama.

Great time in Guatemala

Thank you for your prayers.

Mike in GuatemalaMore than 40 people were healed miraculously. Pastor Charlie Forman has an anointing for praying for the sick. A lady with stage-4 pancreatic cancer got up and went to her daughter’s wedding. A lady with a walker doesn’t need her walker. One leg grew out 3 inches. A 75-year-old with back pain got down on the floor and did three pushups to check if he was in fact healed.

Iglesia cristiana La PuertaPeople got saved in almost every service. Youths came! The discouraged were encouraged.

We played soccer and enjoyed the best of Guatemala cuisine (beans and rice with Jesus Christ forever! oh, and they gave me some tasty cinnamon buns.).

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The Liceo Biliungue La Puerta school is doing well too!

The best thing was just the sense I got that 16 years of labor were not in vain. There are people who thank me for changing the direction of their lives. People are still getting saved.

It makes me want to keep going for Jesus.

Useless, then priceless

Tio TinoTino was one of those drunks who you stepped over, who slept in his urine on the streets in Guatemala. You expected him to wake up dead after a cuttingly cold night. You tried not to think about it.

Ismael talked to him about Jesus and offered him a place to sleep. Tino got saved.

As a missionary, I had a soft spot in my heart for Tino. We let him sleep at the church as a guard. We gave him food. I let him play worship on his guitar in service, a throwback type Christian music. He became Tio Tino — Uncle Tino — for everybody.

drunk GuatemalaOn this trip to Guatemala, I was astonished at just how far the transformation has gone. Now, Tino leads outreach everyday, which his only honkytonk guitar, just off the edge of the Central Plaza. Everybody joined him on Sunday to street-preach.

He’s back on the streets, no longer homeless in a stupor, like Joshua establishing dominion, reaching out to others who are in the condition he left behind.

Partnerships

Saved gang member

Mario and Alex at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta today.

When it was his turn to kill in a dark alley, Mario demurred and concocted some excuse. Still, he was a hardcore gang leader.

Meanwhile, Alex got his kicks throwing curve balls that baffled batters in the big leagues of Guatemala. With his young Nicaraguan partner, together they were forming a life with not much direction.

On separate days, both got radically saved by Jesus Christ. They processed through discipleship and became leaders of the Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta. They worked tirelessly, giving their all, everyday. Mario still teaches art in our school. Alex still is assistant pastor and coordinator for the school.

Missionary school Guatemala

With the big smile, teacher Banner with 5th and 6th graders. His life too was touched by God. He too has become a key partner in the ministry.

If you want to achieve great things, you’ll need to partner up with other, similarly-minded human beings. Partnership, in the world, maybe conjures the ideas of corporation profits. On the team, it speaks to supporters who help the stars win.

But in the kingdom it means much more: exponential impact and sweet friendship.

Now that I was forced to abandon Guatemala, they carry on the work. I left, Jesus did not.

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The lighting was bad, the smile good. My joy is to see kids in a safe harbor school growing up free from pressures to “grow up” too quickly. There is an innocence on these kids.

Partnership in the gospel is one of the greatest blessings in life. Don’t believe the myth of Rambo, one man single-handedly decimating entire armies. With God, it doesn’t work that way. God describes the church as the symbiosis of differently-gifted individuals who benefit each other and achieve vastly more together than any would alone.