VICKSBURG TO GUATEMALA: Local church volunteers bring help, care, gospel to village

Published 4:00 am Sunday, July 24, 2022

While many Vicksburg residents enjoyed a long July Fourth weekend, a group of volunteers from area Baptist Churches devoted their time to building a new open-air chapel for the village of San Rafael in Guatemala, providing villagers medical care and delivering the gospel.

The 20-member team composed of members from area churches led by Woodlawn Baptist Church arrived in Guatemala on July 2 to complete work on the new church of Los Vados, replacing the previous church, which consisted of poles holding a tarpaulin for cover.

Other churches participating in the project by providing either volunteers, donations or both, included First Baptist and Immanuel Baptist Church of Vicksburg; Oak Grove Baptist Church, Bentonia; New Hope Baptist Church, Foxworth; Big Sandy Baptist Church, Moundville, Ala.; and First Baptist Church, Carthage.

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“San Rafael is northeast of Guatemala City,” said Ann Moore, who with her husband Dennis led the team on the mission. She said the area where the church is located is mountainous but was not in the jungle and temperatures were in the 70s and cooler at night.

Moore said the team flew into Guatemala City on July 2 and drove to the village.

“We had worship service Sunday morning and after lunch, we began working,” Moore said.

During the mission, the volunteers stayed at a hotel in San Rafael and drove to the church, which was about 40 minutes away.

Moore said the money donated for the church building was sent ahead to missionaries Mike and Sandra Little, who are associated with Hattiesburg-based Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International, an organization of Christian volunteers traveling to the mission field and paying their own expenses to serve the poor and sick and evangelize. The program offers medical and dental services free of charge.

Labor to prepare and develop the foundation was provided by villagers under the direction of the Littles.  The team from Mississippi completed the building.

The church, which was dedicated during a July 6 ceremony, contains a wood-burning stove, sink, storage room, bathroom, podium tables and chairs. Moore said the church’s congregation plans to begin a food ministry in the village, adding the stove will be used to cook food.

While construction was underway, a medical team saw local residents to provide medical care and dispense medicine and reading glasses.  A veterinarian team went throughout the area treating animals and the vacation Bible School team taught Bible stories, provided crafts and played games with the children. Each person had the opportunity to share the gospel in every area of ministry.

The team’s nurse came down with COVID-19 and was unable to travel, but a nurse who was a friend of the missionaries had recently arrived in the area and assisted with medical examinations.

“We hired a Guatemalan doctor and we had a physician’s assistant,” Moore said. “They did general examinations; if they found anything serious, the people were referred to a doctor. We did not give any prescription medicine; just medicine that you could get over the counter.”

She added 334 medical patients treated, 836 prescriptions filled, 475 animals treated, 124 children ministered to and three new members were added to the church during the volunteers’ weeklong stay.

Moore quoted a passage from Second Corinthians 9:13-14 to describe the mission’s service to the village:

“For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. They will glorify God for your obedience to the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with others through the proof by this service.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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