Monday, June 4, 2018

pastor marcos, local BV church plant

pastor marcos (orange shirt), wife olga (red shirt)
several years ago, i heard about pastor marcos through the rhinos.  he was a "new pastor" in town that was "causing problems."  given my history with the pastors in our village, i was very curious...   

the religious climate in our village is extremely legalistic. the churches are difficult to work with, and have even expressed their anger with us for teaching freedom and "women's rights."  now, when an american hears "women's rights", certain thoughts come to mind - discrimination, equal opportunity, equal pay, etc.  but in rural guatemala, its something completely different.

i'll never forget our first visit from the group of local pastors.  it was late in the afternoon when i responded to the knock on the gate.  6-7 men asked to come in and talk with us.  masked with handshakes and niceties, they proceeded to tell mynor and i that we are "outsiders" and don't understand how the village works.  they requested that we don't teach "american ways" to the boys.

never in a million years would we want to americanize the village of Buena Vista!  in fact, its part of our ministry philosophy not to do so.  so i was genuinely interested to know what they were talking about.  maybe there was something subtle we were doing that we needed to rethink...

after pressing them several times to please share what specifically they were talking about, the lead pastor for the main evangelical church finally shed some light.  "here in the village, the women have their place.  their job is to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. the boys in your academy are saying that you are teaching them differently.  telling them that the women's opinion values the same as the men, and a man should even help with cooking and cleaning." 

wow.  our academy had only been open a few months, and God was showing us what we were up against.  generational roots that may take a generation to dig up.  as the years went by, the number of challenges and conversations with the local churches mounted up. there's so much more to it than i can possibly explain here...

i've been asked a million times why we don't partner with a local church, or "plant a church" in our village.  you can read my answer and philosophy behind that question here if you'd like to.  nothing has changed there.  

sunday school class 
but back to pastor marcos...
when i finally met him, i immediately felt his passion.  clearly passionate for youth ministry, he was convinced that the next generation could make lasting change.  he had married a woman from nearby magdalena and described how he eventually felt a specific call to the village of Buena Vista.  but after working to plant a church in BV, he had been beaten down by the legalism.  he had already made the mental shift from the adults to the young people.  go figure!

pastor marcos has worked hard to develop relationships with the other local BV churches.  he has organized get-togethers with the other pastors, and has worked to host several concerts with the other local church leaders.  he describes it as having been a long, tough road.

one time, several of the pastors asked him to come to a meeting.  he was excited, thinking he was finally being welcomed into the network.  when the meeting began, he was blindsided... by an "intervention" that was focussed on his "lack of respect for God" because he wore jeans and flip flops, and had hair that was too long.  ugh...

despite all of the set-backs and discouragements, pastor marcos pressed on.  he relentlessly pursues the youth of Buena Vista with ministry opportunities.  he hosts camp-outs, barbecues, and concerts.  he is ALWAYS working.  that being said, i still felt the need to be patient in "endorsing" any local church.

last year we invited pastor marcos to our tuesday-night bible study with our older Rhinos.  the topic was "sexual purity", so i was a little concerned how he would respond.  after all, we hit these topics head-on and don't mince words.  

after the first gathering, pastor marcos approached me and asked if he could begin bringing his teenage son.  he said he'd never heard this topic be discussed so openly and honestly... and felt like it was something that he and his son should be working through together.  it was during this bible study that i truly gained a great love and respect for pastor marcos.  i saw his genuine heart and desire to honor God with his life, both as a pastor and as a dad. 

we have taken the idea of getting behind pastor marcos' "church plant" to God many, many times.  but every time we committed to pray about it, God said, "not now... just keep doing what you are doing."  He not only said that to us, but to the schmidt and leiva families as well.  

marcos and olga (with mynor and allan) singing with kids
as a side note, i am grateful for my friend mark's investment in pastor marcos over the last couple years.  he has truly come alongside and given countless hours of counsel.  in addition, the leivas have begun attending pastor marcos' church, and digging into the community of believers there.  its been awesome to see the various families and ministries reach out in support...

for me personally, it was last november when God spoke clearly and directly.  a group from ocean city church in jax beach was in town visiting, and we had gone to visit the home one of our rhinos, named wisman.

after the visit, wisman said he was headed to church, and i asked if we could go with him. he was thrilled to have us come along!  when we showed up unannounced at pastor marcos' church, i peeked in before anyone saw us.

pastor marcos was in front of his church, mostly all kids, leading them in the "chicken dance."  it was a sweltering hot day.  he was sweating profusely. a huge smile on his face, there he was...  as free as can be, dancing, doing the movements, encouraging the kids.

it was in that moment that i heard God's voice say, "its time."

praying over marcos and olga
its not that i had ever doubted pastor marcos' sincerity.  but there was something powerful about walking up - unannounced - and seeing the guy joyfully giving his heart and soul to the kids of BV, in jesus name.

over the next few months, we prayed over what that meant.  i knew it meant taking our support/partnership with pastor marcos to another level, but wasn't sure how.  finally, i asked him directly what could help him the most at this point in his ministry.  he eventually responded, "a clean, dry, dignified place to gather together..."

since then, mark and i have had several meetings with pastor marcos and our local builder.  we've designed a large multi-purpose room that will protect them from the primary BV elements (rain, cold, heat, and dust), and also allow room to grow.  

the initial cost will be $15,000.

as usual, because of the mountainside incline, a large retaining wall and leveling process is necessary pre-construction.  that part is already underway, and construction will begin next. 


if you are ever able to visit guatemala, we would love to introduce you to pastor marcos, his wife olga, and their church family!
to support the project, please contact me or donate by CLICKING HERE and note "pastor marcos" in the donation.

we have already received $5,000 towards the project!  
current remaining need is $10,000.

let us know if you want to help.  thank you!

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