Back in 2012 you brought me to Guatemala for the first time. From the moment I arrived, you gave me a strong love for the people, the country, the church. Who knew that some four years later, I would move to Guatemala for over a year to be a part of your work in this country? Only you.
I remember March of 2016 when I was in Guatemala on my 4th mission trip to the country. On the ride from Guatemala City to Xela, Pastor Jeff began sharing with me what you were up to in the church. He shared with me how he felt like you were leading them to start a young adult ministry, but there was no one to lead it. As we continued to talk, he asked me to pray about coming for a year, to start the ministry. I remember my first response was to tell him that I’d love to come one day with my wife. I was kind-of obsessed with marriage at the time; thank you for freeing me from that. After sharing the marriage thought with him, he rebuked me and asked me to keep praying about it. So I did.
That mission trip was followed by a jaw surgery that left me on my back and only consuming liquids for six weeks. A lot of time to pray. In that time, you began to give me vision of what you wanted to do in Guatemala. You gave me vision that the men of this culture could learn to follow Jesus before getting married and having kids so that they could love their wives and children like you do. You gave me vision that the women of this culture would learn what their Heavenly Father said about them, that they would receive their identity from Jesus, so that they could be secure wives and mothers. I knew these were dreams from you, visions from you, so I prayed you’d make it happen. You gave me faith, and I said yes to the opportunity to move to Guatemala.
July 22, 2016 I left home and moved into the men’s discipleship house in La Esperanza. In my room were four others who only spoke Spanish. Welcome to Latin America. From the beginning, they loved me, welcomed me, and taught me Spanish. I remember when Jonathan would sit on my bed with me and we would work on translating letters he had received from American missionaries. He was so patient with me and you used things like that to teach me Spanish.
For six weeks, I began to get involved in the church, but was not yet leading anything. Those weeks were for prayer. You reminded me of the vision you gave me and encouraged me to pray it into existence. So I did.
Then, on September 7th, 2016 you sent Sam, Dani, Emily, and Stephen to Guatemala and we began to live together and pray for the young adults of Xela and La Esperanza. On September 9th, 2016 we had our first young adult gathering – our first Ignite. Us five were there, along with a few others, I taught Ephesians 1, and we prayed this ministry would be the Lord’s from the beginning. We did not want to do anything that was not led by your Spirit, not focused on you.
The next few months came with a lot of difficulty, discouragement, and turnover of team members, but you were at work behind the scenes. I remember being frustrated because I didn’t know anyone in this country outside the church and I didn’t know how to invite people to Ignite. Yet you reminded me of how Jesus changed the world – one life at a time. You challenged me to simply invite the people I came into contact with. You challenged me to love and disciple those who were coming. You challenged me to prepare every message with excellence, because it’s your Word I’m preaching, it’s you I’m representing.
And I’m in awe of what you’ve done.
The last six months have been so much more than anything I imagined. Yes, Ignite has grown in numbers, but what you’ve reminded me of is that each of the people coming have a story. Each number represents a soul. A soul you love, a soul you died for. You have done an incredible work. You have fulfilled the vision you gave me.
You gave me vision that men would learn to follow Jesus so that as they one day have wives and families, they’ll love them like Christ loves the church.
I remember what you’ve done. [Names changed]
[Evan] has been coming to Ignite for a few months, and he’s grown in huge ways. When he started to come, he was either a baby Christian or not a Christian at all, but he was interested. Through your Word and by your Spirit, you’ve drawn him to yourself and his life is starting to bear fruit as he trusts Jesus. His prayer is that you would continue to grow him, that he’d believe your promises, and walk with you. When his brother came to town, he asked [Joe] if he was going to church, and [Evan] got to bring his brother with him to Ignite. His brother saw something different in [Evan] – and that’s Jesus.
[Vern] also came a few months ago, interested in the church, the community, the Lord. I’ll never forget the day at small group when he shared that he had just come from his house where his friends were hanging out. He knew he and his friends were going to go out and drink, but he chose to come to church instead. Leaving his house, his friends were confused as to why he was leaving them to go to church, but he told them that’s what he had to do. He came, fleeing sin, to sit at your feet. He’s learning to follow you.
[Dennis] first started coming to Ignite six months ago, and it’s been through your Word and the community and friendships you’ve given him that he’s being transformed into the image of Jesus. He’s being convicted of sin and you are changing him. As a result, he’s following you and leading us in worship each week.
You are faithful.
You gave me vision that women would find their identity in you, that as a result they’d be wives and mothers who are secure in who their Heavenly Father says they are.
[Joy] has been with us from the beginning. At the beginning, she was quiet, reserved, but wise. Knowing Jesus already, she needed to really understand the truth about who she is in her God. You began bringing friends into her life and through them and each of the teachings, you started to show her who she is in you. In the last few months, she’s grown in massive ways. She’s confessed and repented of sin, she’s a leader in Ignite, and she’s an incredible friend to the girls in the ministry. She knows who she is in You.
[Samantha] came to Ignite the very first time we met as a ministry. A strong Christian already, she was hungry to grow. I’ve seen her mature in her faith and grow to be a pillar in Ignite. One incredible thing about her is she realizes when you are speaking to her. After almost every message on Friday, she’ll share with me how you answered a prayer that she had been praying throughout the week. You are using your Word and through your Spirit, you’re speaking to your daughter. She’s hearing you and growing in confidence that you’re her Father who loves her endlessly.
[Grace] has been coming for about six months. After going through a difficult season, you drew her back to yourself and a church that teaches your truth. You’ve grown her into an incredible friend – a faithful and loyal friend to the girls. In that way, she is representing you so well, because you are a faithful and loyal King.
You are faithful.
Thank you for doing exceedingly, abundantly, more than I could ask or imagine. As I look back, all I can say is “thank you”. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for equipping me. Thank you for building a team. Thank you for Sam, Dani, Jeff, Alam, Brandon, Hassan, and so many others. Thank you for my supporters back home. Thank you for blessing obedience. Thank you for the lives you’ve changed for eternity.
Just as you’ve fulfilled so much of the vision you gave me, I pray you would fulfill the rest.
You gave me vision that men would learn to follow Jesus so that as they one day have wives and families, they’ll love them like Christ loves the church. You gave me vision that women would find their identity in you, that as a result they’d be wives and mothers who are secure in who their Heavenly Father says they are.
Men are following you, women are finding their identity in you. You’ve fulfilled that part. Now I pray that the fruit would remain. I pray that as these men and women get married, as they have children, as they have grandchildren, they would continue to represent you well. I pray that marriages would be strong, that they’d be true representations of Jesus’ relationship with the church. I pray children would be raised with parents that represent God the Father well. I pray for generational change.
I pray this all in faith, because I’ve already seen you fulfill the first part of the vision. You will finish what you’ve begun.
You are faithful.
Your Beloved Son,