Mission to Guatemala and the USA
Miguel Diez and Maria Jimenez Diez
Remar Spain - Christian work in 52 nations
E-mail preferably in Spanish: email@example.com
We left Madrid for Guatemala on Iberia giving ourselves a few hours of space from the continual news of war in Iraq. Thanks to Manuel our friend an Iberia employee, our journey was unusually comfortable and pleasant. We know how to be in scarcity and in abundance after all these years, either way we move forward with joy and a spirit of sacrifice, for there is no doubt that when your body is tired out, it really appreciates certain comforts and is grateful for them.
The conference for our work in Guatemala was a blessing as we were able to see one more time just how the Lord has so marvellously worked for us. The street children are being taken care of, gaining academic diplomas and some of the older ones are heading towards being teachers at the very same colleges that the Lord gave to us to be able to educate them in the first place.
Some years ago when we began to bring in children from the street we soon found that the most serious problem we had was in educating them. The state schools were the worst possible place for them as they went straight back into a street atmosphere and it wasn't long before one way or another all the hard work that we had done in our homes was undone. The next thing we tried was to take them to the Christian Colleges which have been open for the upper classes of Guatemala, the wealthy, and although in the beginning these schools did offer us certain discounts, it was not long before they began to fear for their reputation as it did not go down very well to have our street children sat alongside the children of the more privileged members of society. So in order to protect their good name all the schools eventually asked us to remove our children.
Now some years later we can thank the Lord for that situation because it forced us to open our own schools and colleges. The Lord gave us the way forward into the first one which at this moment in time is educating some 400 children, some from our own children's homes and others from very poor families. The second college is now in operation for the next age group upwards and has government recognition for its teaching.
It is very interesting to see how children from other social classes have now begun to attend our colleges because their parents have recognised the high level of teaching, noticing the good example of all the scholars and their exemplary morality. In the work of God you do see some strange and curious things from time to time and one of those is that many of those well financed and beautifully equipped colleges for the elite of the nation who so feared to fall into disrepute by taking in the weakest and poorest children, have in fact today closed their doors. Many of them have fallen and dried up like leaves on a tree in the autumn time, falling away little by little until someone finally noticed that all their life had disappeared.
To see history moving forward under the hand of God, He that writes it in the first place, has to produce a respectful fear in us and makes us pray like this, "Lord guard our hearts that they never get tangled up in the love of this world, let us never forget from where You have taken us out and when You honour us and prosper us let us never forget that it was You that gave us life and without You we will be quite dead." As the Proverb says, "He that gives to the poor will know no poverty himself but he that takes his eyes away from them will know many curses."
As soon as we arrived in Guatemala we went straight into meetings with local businessmen and friends of our ministry so that we could talk together about spreading the gospel amongst the poor, amongst those who God makes rich in himself. We have seen how those who are rich in themselves are the ones that God leaves in their own poverty.
On the first day of our conference Miguel shared from Revelation 1 vs 6 about our call to be kings and priests, called to reign with Him, and if we suffer with Him then indeed we shall reign with Him also.
If you ever go to Israel the guides will take you to the place where Jesus was held prisoner before His trial. The place itself has a marble floor and there are some imprints upon the tiles which have remained this very day. Years ago these marks were used for a kind of game which they called the game of the clown king. This game consisted of soldiers throwing dice and if you lost then they dressed you up as a king and laughed at you, exactly as they did with Jesus. They would have had a bonfire burning to keep warm and not far away would have been the branches of a thorn tree, typical of that place, ready to be thrown onto the fire. For them what better crown could be made for someone who had declared Himself to be a King.
They would have taken some of the thorn spines and wrapped them into a kind of circle made to fit Christ's head and so He was crowned. Jesus was indeed a suffering King who carried upon Himself all the contradictions of this world without God. He was a suffering King who took into His own body all the injustice and wickedness and then as a Lamb He was led to the slaughter, He who never said a word when faced with all ridicule and hypocrisy. The first crown of this King will actually become our crown as well if we want to reign with Him, but it will be a crown of thorns that enters our own flesh and causes us to share in the pain and suffering of our fellow men and women as we identify ourselves with the needy and suffer with those who suffer.
It is true that we don't really want a crown of thorns, in fact who would want one, but nevertheless it is necessary to surrender our will and bring it in line with the will of God and ask Him for His grace because in our own nature we have no desire for pain. However, without that suffering we can so easily lose the right perspective and our souls become empty as love for others dies.
As with all the campaigns we have done in Guatemala it took place in front of the Old Cathedral, exactly where the young people spend their time sniffing glue. After we had preached and done a short concert and some drama there was a queue to fill the mini buses as young men got into line to ask for accommodation in our rehabilitation centres and homes. Quite a few of them had to spend time with Remar on previous occasions before leaving but when they heard the gospel being preached again their hearts were stirred to return to God.
Yet others came from the districts where they have lived through terrible experiences, ganging together in violent little armies that go around robbing, killing, raping and taxing every kind of satanic rite. The ordinary people who have suffered years and years under the scourge of these groups of street children take the law into their own hands and as soon as they find any one of them by himself they pounce upon them and kill them.
After we had finished the meetings in the evening we would go out into the streets of the old part of the city, not on foot but in our cars, and although we had already collected so very many people in need we still felt so terribly impotent when faced with immense tasks which still remained. One particular image is fixed in my mind forever, that of a young mother who was sitting on the street floor with her two tiny children sleeping at her side while she held out her hand asking for coins. The tiny children were covered with a scrap of fabric on what was an increasingly cold night. In all the intensity of traffic it was impossible for us to stop and she just went by into my memory.
A bit further on we came across a young man getting ready to go to sleep on the street floor and as his eyes which were so clear caught mine I couldn't help but think about my own son but there was no way I could ever imagine him in such a place. Nevertheless I felt such a sharp pain in my heart just thinking about the possibility. My natural reaction is to guard my own heart with armour plate rather than enter into another useless suffering and I can make my excuses and allow love to dissipate. Yes in this way I can avoid pain, and in this way I can pass by on the other side, in this way I can find an excuse and it might be a good one for we do what we can do and there is still so much evil so much suffering and so much injustice. But for all the excuses I can never take the eraser to my mind and rub out the memory of that woman, of her little children and of that young man with such clear eyes and open face.
Faced with my weakness and my uselessness all I can do is to lift my eyes upon high and ask God for His forgiveness for all the human evildoing that there is, and ask for His help, saying to Him that I want to be counted with those who are ready to wear a crown of thorns. I want to be one of those who are willing to suffer with him who suffers and be one who struggles with all my strength both human, material and spiritual to do something to relieve at least a little of all that pain. I want to be one of those who carries the Good News, one who proclaims freedom for the captives and freedom to the prisoners, one of those who might be able to give food to the hungry and clothes to the ragged, in other words I want to be one of those with whom Jesus walks and brings into His kingdom of love and justice.
The last part of our journey to Guatemala was deeply impressive. We went to the juvenile correction centre at Pinula which is entirely staffed by the young men from our work at Remar, some are Spanish some are Portuguese and some are from Central America and together they take care of 120 teenagers who have been brought there by the police and by the courts owing to their numerous offences for delinquency, robberies, kidnappings, rapes and assassinations. Actually during our campaign meetings I had the chance to have conversation with one young man who had come out of the no-go areas, he spent a little while to put me in the picture what it meant to live that kind of street life. For instance just one of the conditions to be part of one of the local gangs was to have murdered somebody.
Violence, robbery, rapes and every kind of satanic implication are no more than daily bread for these people. Having arrived at the correction centre which was filled with young people from the no-go areas you can imagine my surprise to go into the meeting hall and find all these young men singing worship songs to the Lord and later on listening with total respect and quietness to the message that Miguel brought to them. At the end when he invited all that wanted to surrender their lives to the Lord to serve Him, to change their lives, practically everybody in the whole hall became as one in prayer in their commitment to find God and to give themselves to Him.
It was a privilege to meet some of them who having completed their sentences had not wanted to go back to the streets but had preferred to stay in the prison making it their home, a place where they could grow in their new life and help others to begin the process. It was a marvellous experience for us and it is true that those of us who live in the Kingdom of Heaven do in fact participate in another dimension altogether in which the miracle of seeing ruined human lives being restored is what happens everyday, in fact it is the most natural thing of all.
We finished our time in Guatemala sharing in the church of Sergio Enriquez, a pastor who is always more than hospitable towards us and who co-operates in every possible way to help our own pastor, Hose Gomez find his way through all the needs which face him every day, as he cares for some 600 children.
The second part of our journey was in Miami where our colleagues Angel and Elaine have brought together our workers in the United States to discuss our future plans in that country. One of those is particularly attractive and we hope it can be seen through and that is to open a retreat centre on a property in Ontario, Florida alongside one of our rehabilitation homes for men. Just one more item on the prayer list and with good reason because we have long since learned that all our efforts are in vain if the Lord does not come with us.
From Miami we went to Rochester where Miguel was invited to share in a three day conference on the theme of integrity, a very appropriate subject for the days in which we live.
We actually returned home a little bit sad because our time in the United States had coincided over the war in Iraq. On the surface it seemed that we had been in a fairytale country, one from a Disney film, but having said that it is impossible to avoid discovering the reality of this country. It is materialistic like none other consuming without a second thought as often as not at the cost of other weaker nations which it never allows to flourish and blossom.
This is a country which has spent years inflicting wars and destabilising other nations in order to increase its own power whilst at home it is impossible to avoid seeing the decadence in religion, politics, morals and in the family. The real reasons for the war were no less evident and for all the noble words clearly they have more to do with financial and territorial gain.
If you pass through the United States you could easily think that you had arrived in an earthly paradise where honour, faith, patriotism, courage and the selfless defence of the world reign over all, but not so. These are no more than strategies and as political weaponry one understands them but when they come disguised as a manifestation of the gospel of Jesus Christ the very least one can say is that the word hypocrisy is totally inadequate and insufficient.
So in closing from Spain, where we wait for the reign of our Lord who alone will reign in justice and peace, we continue to do the best we can with the little strength we have, nevertheless trusting in the strength of Christ and pressing forward under His banner, of the standard of Jesus.
Yours, no more than the donkeys that carried Jesus,
Miguel and Maria Carmen
E-mail preferably in Spanish: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remar Spain - Christian work in 52 nations
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