Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Dedication of Church Building in Cubulco, Guatemala

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Saturday, October 10 was another important day for our congregation here in Cubulco. We dedicated the new church building to the glory of God and for the extension of His kingdom.

Some five years ago we began meeting for worship on our porch. Gradually, the group outgrew the porch and we moved to a rented house on main street. That became too small as well. The owner also sold the house, so we began using the Community Hall in the Colonia, a resettlement community about 15 minutes from town. Later we borrowed another church building in the same community. Although conscious of the fact that the church consists of members, not bricks, the congregation was convinced of the importance of having our own place of worship. In Guatemala, buildings still play an important role in giving credence to oneÕs message.

The Mission supported our desire to build a suitable place of worship and a lot was purchased measuring 15 metres by 31 metres. Land prices are high in town and we acquired the property for Q 30,000 (about $7,500 Cdn.). Through contact with the Vander Vegte family (Dutch missionary friends working with GZB in Guatemala), Mr. Oolbekkink from the Netherlands, agreed to design our building for us. He came up with a beautiful plan that took into account local Spanish architecture as well as our needs for a functional building. Initial price estimates were simply out of reach, however, and we changed the design to lower the cost while maintaining the basic outlines he sketched for us. The new plan was approved and construction began in September 1997. The contractor projected that the job would take 3 to 5 months. A year late, he handed me the keys!

During the latter part of the month of September we began making preparations for the opening of the church. Announcements were aired on the local radio station and a program was carefully put together. We hoped to draw many non-church people, so we needed to provide a clear Gospel message and statement as to what we are all about.

The name chosen for the church is Iglesia ReformadaÑÒChrist es la LuzÓ (Reformed Church ÐÒChrist is the LightÓ). A light shines from the tower that graces the front of the church and provided us with the theme for the opening service. It also gives expression to our reason for being. We are here to give testimony to Christ who is the Light of the world. He invites us to follow Him and enjoy the light of lifeÐeternal life. John 8:12 was the text for the sermon, as well as the theme for the entire evening.

During the program Bible readings from both the Old and New Testaments dealing with the concept of light, especially focusing on the fulfilment in Christ, were read. Songs also gave testimony to Christ as the Light of the world. He shines into the darkness of our ignorance and doubt. He gives us life. Christ also calls for commitment to Himself: the life lived in following Christ is the only truly blessed one. Furthermore, as a church He calls us to be light in the world.

The evening was well attended, despite the heavy rains during the afternoon. The whole sector was out of electricity, but the local repairman, a Christian, kindly connected our transformer to another transmission line, giving us the necessary electricity for the evening.

Not only did many local people turn out, but local churches, our different mountain fellowships, the mayor, and the hospital all took part in the evening. Nico Kattenberg gave a pulpit Bible on behalf of the Mission and North American churches.

Following the service, tamales were served. All in all, we had a blessed evening. It was a time of joy and thanksgiving. We wish to thank the North American churches for your prayers and financial support that made it possible to reach this important moment in the history of the church here.

Having a building in town brings a new dimension to our work. No longer do we just serve those who come in from the mountains on the weekends, but by being more visible we need to reach out to the unchurched here in town. As it is, attendance at the worship services in town has declined significantly with the building of the church buildings in the mountainsÑour brothers want to be in their local churches on the LordÕs day. We rejoice in that, believing that this is the way it should be. However, we now face the challenge of how to minister effectively in Cubulco. In prayerfully considering this, we have come up with the following:

1. Our church services have been increased to three each weekend. Saturday nights we have a bilingual (Spanish/Achi) service. Sunday mornings there is an Achi service after bilingual Sunday school for all ages. This is the only exclusively Achi service in town, and is a vital part of our outreach. Sunday evenings we now have an exclusively Spanish service for the benefit of the local Latins. Since the opening of the church, new people come regularly and a new family has joined. They come from a small community about 20 minutes from town and are the only evangelicals in their area.

2. Each week we also meet for prayer in the homes of local members. This is under the leadership of another member of the congregation, as I am often in the mountains during the week. We trust that this will also lead to home Bible studies with non-churched neighbours. It is our intention to visit every home in Cubulco, introducing ourselves and giving them a tract.

3. This year we hope to offer Vacation Bible school for the first time. This has been scheduled for the second week of December and a group of young people from a Presbyterian Church in Guatemala City will be helping out. As mentioned in a previous Messenger, a music teacher, Moises Ramos, has recently joined our church. He will be providing music lessons in the church as a form of outreach as well.

4. Plans are under way to develop a weekly radio program in Achi and Spanish.

As you can see, we are wrestling with how to reach out. We are deeply conscious of the need for God to bless our endeavours with His Spirit. The work is His, the glory will be His. We are also praying that God would provide us with fellow labourers. As the work progresses, we are being stretched to our limits and beyond. While grateful for the fact that Nico Kattenberg will be joining us to work in the southern area of Cubulco, we could use additional help in town, and encourage young people to consider serving God here in Cubulco, so that all might come to know Christ Who is the Light of the world.

Yours in the fellowship of the Gospel, Ken and Jackie Herfst.

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