Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

From the Missions Secretary

Written by Gary Postma
I have had the privilege of visiting Guatemala several times since we have begun our mission work in that country. When I look back at these visits, there are several highlights which stand out vividly in my mind. I would like to share one such highlight with you.

One of the most moving memories I have is of a trek with Rev. Herfst and Rev. Schouls. We left early in the morning, traveling by auto as far as the road would allow. From there, we traveled either by boat or on foot for the rest of the day. Along the way we would see Achi people planting corn, pushing the seed into the ground with a stick. We saw other natives in their little dug-out canoes fishing with a pole and string. Often, we would see women and children, mostly barefoot, making their long treks on the treacherous trails to CubulcoÕs market with produce, in baskets on their heads. The water was very green. There was some vegetation close to the river, but the rest of the world was brown from the hot scorching sun. Our meal was fish, caught in the river and boiled in a pan on a fire. We also had soup made from tomatoes and some nearby plant leaves. The coffee was mountain brewed and very sweet.

I really thought I was in the stone age. Nothing had changed for a thousand years. At least, so I thought, until our boat rounded a bend in the river. Before our eyes was the ruins of an old Mayan temple. I had seen Mayan temples before, but this one seemed to me to be very, very old. The white exterior plaster had mostly eroded away. The block walls were, in some places, like rubble. We brought our boat to the shore, climbed out and walked to the ruins. Not without some difficulty, I managed to scramble to the top. My thoughts and imagination were soon absorbed with what likely happened on top of this Mayan temple, many centuries ago. If these stones could talk, their story would be one of altars, sacrifices and human blood--vain attempts to try to appease the gods of this world.

Rev. Herfst then took us across the water to the opposite shore. There we are introduced to a young man and wife, who look worn and yet dignified as so many Mayan Indians do. They seem happy to see us. They have several children and live by themselves up the hill, across from the ruins, in a hut made from sticks and grass. Actually, their hut looks down on the ruins. They live here all by themselves. There is no one else around for miles. I wondered how they felt about that temple. Did itÕs history mean anything to them? Did it give them an eerie feeling? Do the superstitions and evil, to which this temple was dedicated, still have an impact on them?

We were welcomed into their little hut. They are Christians. The father is a leader in a small local congregation. We drink their mountain coffee and have a beautiful time of Christian fellowship, encouraging one another in the faith. Then we and the entire family stand in a circle on the dirt floor and Rev. Herfst closes in prayer.

As we walk down the path to the waterÕs edge, I am suddenly struck by the thought that this magnificent temple is in ruins, empty, silent, and dead--it didnÕt last. But this little, humble grass hut above the temple, is alive. ItÕs household is alive in Christ. The Word of God endures forever. For me, this is such a moving thought. It is almost a holy irony. The stronghold of darkness is in ruins, itÕs evil message silent, and right next to it, up on the hill, there stands a little poor hut, inhabited by children of the Light. It is a picture of what will happen in the last days. Like that temple, the kingdom of darkness will not and cannot last. But the Word of God will endure and will utterly crush and destroy all who are not covered by that one sacrifice of blood, which alone can cleanse from all sin.

It is the duty and call of the church to go into all the world and bring the gospel of salvation in Christ alone. To the Achi as well, must be brought that message of hope, that alone can release them from that bondage and superstition which has held them captive throughout the ages.

For this reason, the Mission Committee is very pleased to inform you that chapters 1-12:8 of Genesis are now published in the Achi language in booklet form. We commend our brother Gary DeSterke and his translation helpers- Leonardo and Mateo for this work. May the Lord continue to strengthen them and give them all they need as they seek to carefully and faithfully translate the entire Old Testament into the Achi language.

The Achi word for Genesis - U XEBAL, is printed on the front cover of this booklet. In the background is a photo of the creation of man from the famous painting of Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. As one pages through this booklet, one cannot but be impressed that here, for the first time ever in their history, the Achi people have the first twelve chapters of the Bible in their own language. The truths we know so well--the creation of man, his fall into sin, the promise of the Redeemer, and the account of the flood--can now be read in their own language. This is truly awesome! May the Lord bless the reading and the preaching of His Word to the hearts of the Achi people so that they be turned to that Saviour Who is able and willing to cover their sins by His sacrifice.

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