The Church of Christ in Guatemala
As far as we currently have history to tell us, the churches of Christ in Guatemala have been present since 1959, when missionaries from the US came and established congregations. They began with few and grew rapidly in the first 20 years. Sadly, the country’s internal conflict caused many difficulties, especially for the missionaries. They eventually had to leave their work, many unwillingly, because of the danger to which they were exposed. Thankfully, the churches continued to grow, though at a much slower pace. The number of members grew in spite of the civil war that took place for over 30 years. A peace treaty was signed in 1996 and things are now relatively better. However, it is has been difficult establishing an accurate figure of the number of members. Some have estimated about six or seven thousand.
The need is still great in Guatemala. There are still a number of departments in Guatemala that do not have any churches of Christ. Many of those areas that do have congregations have a need for men who have been grounded in the Bible and prepared well for the ministry. Most of the full-time workers are supported by churches in the U.S. Few congregations have elderships and we are not familiar with any congregation that could be considered self-supporting. Even the largest congregation in Guatemala City receive financial assistance from the U.S. Many baptisms could be or are being reported, but unfortunately many of those currently converted do not remain faithful. Because of these and other reasons, there is a great need for strong, fundamental preaching and teaching.
One of the sadder experiences we have had has been as a result of a trend that often occurs in underdeveloped countries like Guatemala. The trend is that the local Christians with the money are often those with the power and influence. Because of this, many in the church are frequently influenced more so by these “influential” brethren rather than by biblical convictions. This phenomenon is even more pronounced when these individuals have contacts in the U.S., support from the U.S., or both. We have done our best to avoid being these “influential” brothers, but we have felt the consequence of those who have not.
In a country with a population of about 13 million, there is still much to do. Large congregations are few and are located primarily in Guatemala City. The doors continue to be open for us to help our local brethren make a greater impact in spreading the Gospel. Simple, basic, and practical Bible teaching and preaching, aided by special campaigns and other evangelistic efforts can build up the church greatly. We pray that you will be moved to assist us in “Teaching the Central Message in Central America.”