Early on June 3, 2018, the Volcan de Fuego, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, erupted in Escuintla, about 27 miles from Guatemala City. The eruption has devastated the area, leaving thousands homeless, displaced or losing relatives who have been buried under the lava.
A team of volunteers from The Global Leadership Summit in Guatemala traveled to the affected area to investigate the best way to provide support from a donation made available by Willow Creek Association donors to serve those in need in the area. “Our purpose was to listen to God while we were there,” says Luis Pinto, GLS field leader for Central America and the Caribbean. “We prayed for wisdom and discernment and for God to lead our journey.
While the team was there, they visited one of the largest donation collection centers, which is run by the government. “The center contains mountains of clothes and food, but we also knew about the corruption there,” says Luis. “We visited two other shelters, one of which was also handled by the government, taking care of 1,000 people who had been affected.”
The last location they visited was a church shelter, serving 120 people who had been affected. “When we arrived at this church, I noticed there were a lot of trucks with food outside, a lot people, and of course, the press,” says Luis. “They were trying to enter the church, but the pastor, Rolando Diaz, did not give permission to anyone to enter other than the families, because the whole situation had been politicized.
“But when Rolando found out that local pastor and GLS committee member, Marlon Tzorin, was there with us, he let us enter. Rolando said, I know who you are from the Summit. I was happy when I found out he had attended the GLS in Guatemala! Then he said, Do you want to see what’s going on inside? So we accepted and he let us in.
“We talked with people, shared with them and saw the deep, real needs,” says Luis. “If you watched the news, you may remember a man who lost his six kids in the lava of the volcano, and is still looking for his missing wife. I met him in this church shelter; his gaze was lost and hopeless.
“Thanks to God, the church has a lot of food and clean drinking water to provide to people, but we realized they don’t have a good place to cook or shelves to organize clothes, medicine, food and supplies. In that moment, we felt the Holy Spirit tell us this was the place we were looking for, and to give them a hand and provide the resources we received from Willow Creek Association donors. So we moved forward.
Together with people from Buckner International, Vida Real Church in Escuintla, Pastor Marlon Tzorin and Willow Creek Association, we’re providing the funds and volunteers to start a project to build a kitchen and shelves, and provide medicine and personal hygiene products. The whole project will take two to three weeks, and will start at the end of June 2018. This place will become their home for at least six more months.
“We have a great satisfaction in saying that we are living out the vision and mission of Willow Creek Association,” says Luis. “The slogan we always say, lead where you are, is more than words for us now. Please continue praying for these families and our nation!”
Thank you for supporting leaders in Guatemala!