Praise God for the growth among evangelicals who now are almost 25% of the population, in 25,000 congregations! The 1976 earthquake, the pain of war, and the witness of believers and missionaries all drew many to Jesus. Growth came quickly among Pentecostals, but faith is not always deep. Many mix pagan practices and beliefs with biblical faith, or follow attractive teachings on prosperity. Churches that fail to disciple new believers may lose them in the next two decades. Pray that pastors and leaders will demonstrate Christ-like humility, and rise above foolish divisions and greed.
Violence is a present-day plague caused by the upheaval and ruin of the last few decades. Murder is common, and life is cheap. Guatemala has the highest murder rate in all Latin America. The causes: maras (youth gangs), drug traffickers, organized crime and "social cleansing" - a.k.a. death squads. Government forces can do little to tackle these issues, and private armed guards outnumber police two to one. Pray for a binding of the spirit of murder and for the peace of Christ to prevail.
Widespread evangelism occurs by many means - city crusades, nationwide efforts, 148 Christian schools and institutes, two Christian television channels, more than 50 local Christian radio stations, numerous Christian magazines and newspapers as well as the fervent personal witness of individual Christians. Pray that the fruit may be retained, the believers matured and the new generation won for Christ. Shallow professions of faith and an increased rate of backsliding are becoming common as evangelicals become more "popular". Nominal evangelicalism is a new challenge facing the churches.
Mayan culture is enjoying a renaissance after the rediscovery of their ancient civilization. For some, this is a resurrection of the old, long-submerged Mayan religion, but to others, it is a blossoming of indigenous Christianity aided by the many new translations of the Bible in indigenous languages. There are church-planting movements among many groups, most notably the Kekchi (Baptists and Mennonites). CAMI, CoN and Mennonites also work among Mayan peoples. There has been outreach to every tribe. Pray for these churches to become mature, effectively led and a vital contribution to the Church in the nation.
Young people and students are a massive harvest field; 72% of the population are under 30 years old. Both Cru (four groups) and GEU/IFES (seven groups) have campus ministries and evangelistic outreach - but there are over 100 colleges in the capital city alone.
Children at risk. The majority of children between ages six and 18 live in extreme poverty, with large numbers orphaned or from broken homes. Non-existent social support structures drive them to child labour or toward drugs, gangs or the sex industry. Around 15,000 children live on the streets. Many documented cases exist of death squads murdering these unwanted "nuisances". A number of local and international ministries seek to help them; pray for real solutions to these desperate needs.
The Guatemalan missionary movement began in 1982 with a vision for the world. In 1984, the Agencia Misionera Evangélica (AME) was founded, and since then, other missions have been launched. There are at least three missionary training centres. CONEM (the National Commission of Mission to the World) coordinates the national missions effort. A missions conference for pastors put on by national mission organizations is a new development; pray for its effectiveness in helping church leaders catch a vision for missions.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.