January 31, 2017

Stop Inventing Ways to Serve God

Post by Brittany Tedesco

Guatemalan children.

In June 2015, I wrote a post about Living Stones, a ministry in Guatemala that Christian Aid Mission assists. In the Guajitos slum of Guatemala City, one of the most dangerous places on earth, Humberto and Martha Chavez* began their outreach to children in 1997.

Since then, it's blossomed into something no one could have predicted.

Christian Aid Mission began helping the ministry in 2001, and you've helped it to grow throughout the years. Most recently, you provided a huge answer to prayer.

But let me back up.

Guatemala City is one of the worst places on earth to be a child. Most children are either neglected or abused by their parents, leading many to join the gangs that cripple the country's security and economy. Children are generally viewed as an inconvenience at best, a future thief or murderer at worst.

Guatemalan woman and child.

The average age a child is initiated into a gang is between 14 and 15 years old. Many will grow up to be thieves and murderers.

No one was thinking about ministering to children here. No one, except God.

Though he, too, grew up as a neglected and abused child in Guatemala, Humberto Chavez had no inclination to begin a children's ministry.

After running away from an abusive home at age 7, Chavez lived on the streets until he was 14 years old.

Cover to Experiencing God.

Chavez's aunt took him in on the condition that he attend her church. That's where he met the Lord. After attending Bible school, he spent the next 30 years of his life pastoring churches.

Chavez would have been content to pastor churches for the rest of his life, except that God had other plans for him.

I completed Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" workbook in my late teens as a baby believer in Christ. "Experiencing God" is a wonderful introduction to how God speaks to us and directs our lives.

Now, many years later, I'm completing the workbook again. And I'm finding that the lessons I assumed would be much simpler for me, as a more seasoned Christian, are challengingly profound.

Why? Because it takes the emphasis off of ourselves and what we think we'd like to do for God, and puts the emphasis back on God and what He wants to do through our lives.

Guatemalan children raising hands.

So often, we dream up what we'd like to do for God, and then ask Him to bless it. But God's not sitting around waiting for us to come up with cool ideas so He can get some work done on the earth.

God already knows what He wants to accomplish. And if we'll wait and listen for His voice, He'll call us to join Him in that work.

This article about Living Stones Ministry states how God called Chavez to minister to children, even before Chavez was ready for that ministry.

A believer prophesied that he would be "the father of many children." Chavez didn't want to minister to children—he was content to stick with adults.

"The Lord changed my mind and my heart," Chavez said. "And He put the love in my heart for children."

Eventually, Chavez and his wife, who already felt called to children's ministry, began sharing Christ's love with little ones in the Guajitos slum. They provided destitute children with hot meals, after-school tutoring, recreational activity, Bible lessons, and lots of hugs.

Guatemalan youth carrying supplies to new building.
Youth bring supplies for renovations to the new building, purchased with gifts from Christian Aid Mission

The prophecy came to pass. Chavez has become the spiritual father of many children. When I wrote the post in June 2015, more than 1,000 children had participated in the ministry's programs—and not one of them joined a gang.

This abundant fruit resulted from a man who put aside his own agenda to follow God's.

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things" (Matthew 25:21 NIV).

In April 2016, because of the gifts you sent, the Chavezes bought a building with space for twice as many children as they could accommodate in their old center.

"Since I am a single mother with no father example at home, I have been able to see that, through your ministry, my son is learning that he has a heavenly Father who cares for him at all times," wrote one mother whose son attends the ministry's after-school program at the new building. "Thank you for all your love and care for my son. I know that, in this place, my son is safe at all times and is not in the streets where crime and drugs are rampant."

Guatemalan girl smiling.

The ministry held a five-day Vacation Bible School in its new building for 125 children, and 46 of the children accepted Christ as Savior. "Now, we are working to disciple them in the Lord's way," Chavez wrote.

Like Chavez, the other ministry workers understand that the work they are doing is God's work, not theirs. God originated it, and He sustains it.

"I am only like a channel; only a servant of God," said one ministry worker. "We are doing exactly what God is asking us to do...I don't have the capability to change their hearts, but I do have confidence that God's Word truly does change people. And for years, we have seen many children being changed. He changes their hearts and worldviews, their perspectives."

May God change our hearts as well, so that we stop inventing ways to serve Him—and start joining Him in the work He's already doing.

* Names changed for security

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Myriam - posted February 24, 2017
Powerful testimony. God bless the Chavezes. Let's pray for their ministry.
Pieter - posted February 3, 2017
Praise the Lord! I have been praying for them for quite some time now, and since you asked for expansion of the facilities some time in the past, I also joined you in prayer for it; so once again, great joy when the Lord answers our prayers! Of course He always does that, in the way He has decided. Praise His precious Name forever! Oh the forthcoming joys of eternity!
Ron - posted February 2, 2017
What an amazing work! God is always in control. I just have to keep reminding myself.

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