Ministering in the developing world, we frequently face challenges surrounding ownership and accountability for the projects we provide. As stewards of God’s resources, can we determine the level of “skin in the game” of a potential ministry partner? Not always. When we can, it’s a true blessing.
Lluvias de Gracia Church sits in the heart of Portales, Guatemala. Portales, a slum outskirt of the city of Escuintla, is home to 5,000 residents. The people have little to no sense of “community” and don’t interact on any organized levels. With no local jobs, workers commute by bus to Escuintla, sugarcane plantations, or Guatemala City. Theft, gang violence, and extortion are rampant in Portales, leaving the community with little, if any, hope.
Pastor Byron Vargas and his small congregation of Lluvias de Gracia have exceptional faith and bring hope to their community. The congregation believes that seeds can be sown in their town, despite daily challenges of survival.
In 2010, Healing Waters visited Lluvias de Gracia Church and identified the need for safe water. Meeting this need would not only improve health but could aid in building a sense of community. The most significant obstacle was the lack of a water source. Byron Vargas heard God’s call to dig a well for Portales. Despite the lack of assurance that they would receive a Healing Waters project, Pastor Byron and his church walked in faith and committed to digging a well by hand.
For the next four years, Pastor Byron, his son, and two church members proved their level of “skin in the game” and dug a well using shovels, buckets, bars, and a hand-made rig to lift 1,000-pound boulders from the earth below. They invested $800 of their hard-earned income as well as church offerings to pay for materials to case the well with concrete. Though injured, Pastor Byron did most of the heaviest work himself.
After four years of blood, sweat, and tears, Lluvias de Gracia church finished their well. Their unfailing faith and dedication to a bigger vision for their community made safe water a viable option. Portales was gifted with a Healing Waters water purification system in October, 2014. Their well stands proud, the long-awaited water filtration system installation is complete, and the training for the health and hygiene education program is being instilled. God’s hand directed the efforts of these church members and created a beautiful match for the Equip, Educate, and Empower model that Healing Waters holds so dear.
Over 300 families in Portales have been presented with the program and are responding positively. 250 water jugs are pre-ordered, with the hope that this order is only the beginning. Pastor Byron and his church family have deliberately and passionately sown seeds and are now relying on God’s providential plan for Portales to take shape.
Lluvias de Gracia is truly following their calling to be “in the world, but not of the world.” The Pastor and his people see the business model as a way to show God’s love to their neighbors in Portales. They’re meeting a physical need while creating opportunity to build relationships that will lead to addressing spiritual needs. Equip, Educate, and Empower. The potential for God to reap a fruitful harvest in Portales is vast.
Do they have skin in the game? Without question. Healing Waters is humbled to be given the opportunity to support Pastor Vargas and Lluvias de Gracia Church for years to come. They are the reason Healing Waters not only exists, but exists to serve.
II Corinthians 9:10: Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
The HWI family is humbled when a magnificent picture is painted of the harvest God can reap when we simply sow the seed. Healing Waters remains steadfast in our faithfulness to our mission and calling.