Butch Strickland – Associational Missionary

A Brief Mission Trip Report and a Reminder

on Jan 17, 2014

Thanks for your prayers during our 2014 Associational International Missions trip. There were seven of us, from 5 different churches in Hatcher Pass Baptist Association, who traveled to San Andreas Itzapa, Guatemala. The team did an excellent job!  We were given several options in the planning process with area IMB missionary and we chose to work with Pastor Polo who serves the God is Love Baptist Church and their mission church, Path of Love.  It was a great match for us.  This Shirley and my seven trip to Guatemala and our seventh time to work with Victoria Flores.  Victoria has a new job doing Social Work through Students International, a 501(c)3 organization operating out of Visalia, CA.  She is responsible for raising her own funds, but obviously she has many friends in Indiana.

 The mission, where we conducted VBS, is less than three years old, is in a very poor area of the town and meets in a small tin structure with dirt floor, no restroom and one light bulb.  Path of Love is an appropriate name, for the half mile long path to the church was an adventure, barely wide enough for a van, heavily rutted and steep.  In addition to Vacation Bible School with far more kids that we could put in the small structure, we led two training conferences that focused on church membership and church planting, five adult Bible studies, two evening worship services and I preached in several surrounding churches on Sundays. We really needed one or two additional preachers.

To accomplish it all we had to enlist additional translators and thankfully they not only translated but shared the load. The adult Bible studies focused on the parents of the 80+ children who were attending VBS and ended up as the highlight of my time. It gave me the opportunity to share the gospel with at least 10 adults both personally and in the teaching session who had never been a part of church services at the mission and I assume had never heard the gospel before.  The area is a very heavy blend of mystic Catholic and traditional Mayan beliefs.  For more information simply check out the cult Maximon in Wikipedia.

The worship services and children’s time at the church and the mission are very music driven so we were delighted to provide some foundational doctrinal teaching. Most of the children in VBS were under 10 years old, because older children were working in the fields, but those who were in attendance were very attentive and we had a marvelous time sharing why Jesus came to earth, then providing recreation, snacks and crafts in rotation to use our tiny space creatively.

Because the churches were very generous in supporting those on our team we left $1000 with Pastor Polo to help with two much needed classrooms and a bathroom at the mother church and shared with that church family that they must now do the same thing at the mission (buy land and provide educational space) and then begin other mission churches to reach this region of 40,000 people. We came home very, very tired but excited about stepping outside our comfort zone to share the love of Jesus.  Thanks so much for your support and encouragement.

Now, a reminder!  Saturday, January 25 is our Annual Associational Planning Retreat.  This work session may be our most important event of the year.  We invite all pastors, staff, and one Board Member from every church.  The session is used to set goals, sharpen our teamwork, especially with church planters and plan for our summer ministries. Again, we meet at 9:30 AM on Saturday, January 25 at the First Baptist Church of Palmer.  Lunch is provided and we intend to dismiss by 2:30 PM.  I want to urge you to join us or send a representative from your church.

Serving with you, Gary