Ministering on the Streets of Guatemala City
February 20, 2013
They are the forgotten ones. Children sifting through piles of garbage looking for anything to eat, anything that will ease the pangs of hunger. With no home to go to at night, they find rest on the cold sidewalk, a back alley, or an abandoned train station. Worst of all, there is no one to hug away their hurts, to wipe away their tears, to tell them they are loved and that their lives matter.
Humberto and Noemi Chavez started Living Stones Ministry in 1997 in response to the alarming number of children who inhabit the streets of Guatemala City. Problems of homelessness and neglect lead to even greater woes as youth fall into alcohol and drug addiction, prostitution, and gangs.
Karis is one teenager who escaped that fate. His parents abandoned him when he was just six weeks old. They left the infant in the care of his impoverished grandmother. Now 18, Karis has received assistance from Living Stones Ministry to meet his spiritual and material needs since the age of three.
Through the ministry’s music program, Karis learned how to play the guitar, drums, and a piano keyboard. He enjoys playing the piano during services at a local church, and helps Humberto and Noemi work with the younger children in the congregation. He is very committed to follow Jesus.
Stiven has a new song in his heart, too, after experiencing God’s provision in his life. Several years ago, his father abandoned the family, leaving Stiven and his mother destitute. Living Stones provided for his needs. But another unexpected crisis arose a few years later, when a tumor was discovered in his throat. Although the growth was removed, doctors said the surgery would impair his ability to talk or sing.
“We started to pray for him, and the Lord restored his health, and the cancer is gone,” said Humberto. “He is learning to play the guitar and keyboard. He is also a part of the local congregation’s worship team and praises the Lord for His love and healing.”
Humberto can relate to the plight of boys like Karis and Stiven. When he was seven, the physically abused child was kicked out of the house by his father and new stepmother. Life as a street kid meant finding shelter in abandoned cars and eating garbage.
He managed to survive this way until the age of 14. In desperation, Humberto located his mother and pleaded for help. Unable to take care of him because of her own poverty, she suggested he contact an aunt living in San Jose Port. Humberto set out on foot, without food, water, or transportation, and journeyed to the home of his aunt.
To his immense relief, she did not turn him away. The aunt gave him food and clothing and became a mother to him. She also took him to church. It was here that the teenager learned of God’s love for him.
Humberto later attended seminary and became a pastor at a church in San Marcos, but his heart remained deeply burdened for children. The Lord led him to the Guajitos slum in Guatemala City, where he and his wife, Noemi, opened Living Stones Ministry.
Today they reach out to more than 150 boys and girls from poor families by offering meals, music ministry, Bible instruction, and the good news of Jesus’ love for them. On Sunday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., parents attend worship services with their children. Counseling and discipleship training are also available.
Living Stones Ministry seeks to fulfill the Great Commission by bringing spiritual, economic, social, and physical freedom to children. In the process, they are equipped to become responsible adults and successful Christian leaders.
“Thank you for helping these young lives to stay out of gangs, addictions, and delinquency,” Humberto said. “We pray the Lord bless you and your family!”
- For hurting children to experience the love of Jesus Christ and commit their hearts to Him.
- For the feeding program offered by Living Stones Ministry. Children receive dinner three times a week. In many cases, it is the only nutritious meal they will eat.
- That the music ministry will continue to be a powerful outreach to draw youth to church.
Funds are needed for the feeding program of Living Stones Ministry. It costs $1200 a month to provide children at least three nutritious meals and after-school snacks every week.