Aug 3 2011

Church youth group finds ‘family’ in Guatemala

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The Woodmont Christian Church in Nashville took its youth group to Guatemala on a CFCA mission awareness trip in 2008. Since then the youth group has made a commitment to return to Guatemala every three years so that all its members may experience at least one journey. Here is Jim Thomas’ account of the group’s 2011 trip (you can see more photos at http://woodmontkids.smugmug.com).

During our journey a group of 15 Woodmont youth heard the sobering story of a 17-year-old Guatemalan boy.

He had to leave high school to work, and for three years carried rocks on his back at a bridge construction site to support his family.

Today with CFCA scholarships for high school age students, he had resumed his studies to resume a heroic path out of grinding poverty.

His perseverance, passion for his family and education, and the contribution he will make to the future of his country are inspiring.

He was one of the thousands of Guatemalans of mostly Mayan ancestry that our group had the extraordinary privilege to encounter.

Hosted by the CFCA Center in San Lucas Toliman, we humbly represented the face of hope provided by the hundreds of thousands of CFCA sponsors who offer solidarity and encouragement to the world’s poor and marginalized citizens.

Monthly sponsorship contributes to the basic needs of 98,000 young and elderly friends in Guatemala; an additional 200,000 CFCA sponsored friends live in 21 countries around the world.

Time after time we were warmly embraced by descendants of the woman who gave Jesus her last penny.

The love and generosity that enveloped us the entire week were epic: a faith-affirming, life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit incarnate.

Often it seemed we were unworthy of the love and generosity that we encountered, but our introduction to a broader and deeper understanding of the universal body of Christ was rock solid.

Each day as our world became smaller, the Woodmont church family increased exponentially.

While sponsorship is the cornerstone of CFCA’s worldwide ministry, a mission awareness trip is not about fundraising.

It is the most powerful argument you could imagine to follow Jesus’ commandment to unconditionally love each other as He loved us.

For those with the resources to commit to sponsorship ($30/month), the little that is shared is dwarfed by what is received in return.

We had the pleasure of spending an unforgettable day with 19 of the 25 children that are sponsored friends of Woodmont’s members and ministries.

Our youth did a superb job of representing Grupo Woodmont, where despite language and cultural barriers they were the smiling faces, open arms and a personal connection to someone who cares for these children and families.

For our youth who had studied Spanish, the bonds were immediate and deep!

By the time we lifted off on Tuesday afternoon the journey had inspired our group to add eight new sponsored friends and their families to the Woodmont flock. Thom’s lyric, “Feel that special love sent down from God above,” took on a profound new relevance.

Plans are already under way for Woodmont youth to return in 2014.

Today’s freshmen will be the 2014 senior class mission leaders, following the example of the 2011 seniors who accompanied Woodmont’s inaugural CFCA Mission Awareness Trip in 2008.

With God’s grace the day will come when the children you see on the steps every week during the Children’s Moment meet face to face the boy our children now sponsor.

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