“He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me’ ” (Mark 9:36-37).
Earlier this year I had the privilege of leading a short-term medical missions team to Guatemala. We were a team of 11 who are so thankful to have had the opportunity to come alongside global workers Hector and Ruth Aragon to serve some of the neediest areas of Guatemala together. We were so blessed to be hosted by such loving and lively servants of the Lord, who took such good care of us and helped us to navigate the culture we already loved and were so desperate to learn about.
From a squatter settlement in Peronia near Guatemala City, to Patzún in the mountains, to Uxmel on the coast, we ran full clinics with triage, “doctor’s visits,” and a “pharmacy” to serve children and their families. We provided prayer, physician care, medicine, vitamins and children’s ministry moments that included art, crafts, and even balloon animals. We ran clinics in areas of Guatemala where there was no potable water and limited electricity, where young children were often kept from school at a young age and made to work in order to help their families make ends meet.
We were amazed and deeply moved to have had the opportunity to see with our very own eyes the early fruits of what a difference ERDO’s child sponsorship program, ChildCARE Plus, makes in the lives of so many young boys and girls in Guatemala. The sponsored children were visibly healthier and stronger, and their eyes brighter, than the other children we met who were living in the same regions. We were so grateful to be able to visit some of the schools attended by children who are sponsored by our own church family in Toronto. We were able to meet them and bring greetings and gifts from their sponsors. We were able to meet some of their teachers and, in some cases, even their mothers or grandmothers. It was such a joy!
The greatest highlight for me personally was experienced in the crisp mountain air of Patzún, where we ran one of our busiest medical clinics. There, Hector introduced us to four beautiful children who had been identified as being in greatest need of sponsorship. It was a privilege and honour for my husband and me and three others on the team to be able to offer that sponsorship right then and there. In my case, I was able to make a home visit—to a small home with little protection from the elements, concrete floors, no furniture, no potable water or electricity—and again saw the difference sponsorship can make. I left Guatemala knowing that the little girl I sponsored will be able to continue to attend school, receive an education, and have access to food, water and medical care. I am so blessed to have met her and cannot wait to see how God’s grace continues to unfold in her life. From my time in Guatemala, my heart was compelled like never before to pray that every single child who needs assistance will receive sponsorship sooner than later.
At our church we sing a popular worship song called “Hosanna” that says, “Open up my eyes to things unseen; Show me how to love like You have loved me; Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause ...” I believe that one of the greatest causes of the kingdom is to love and provide for the fatherless, the orphan, and those children who are the hope of the future but don’t know it yet. I truly believe that the loving sponsorship of children who are in need in Guatemala and all over the world is critical to the kingdom.
While our team went to Guatemala to bless as many as we could, we are the ones who received the greatest blessing. While there are great needs in Guatemala, the joy of the Lord and the hope of Christ are so very present. God is at work in Guatemala, and we know that He is not finished yet. We wanted to stay longer but are grateful for the time we did have. We pray for Guatemala, knowing that God has not forgotten her or her children. We believe that God will open doors for us to return again one day. Dios te bendiga (God bless you).
Kaarina Hsieh is the lead pastor at Parkway Forest Church in Toronto, Ont. ChildCARE Plus, ERDO’s child sponsorship program, is celebrating 25 years this year. If you are a child sponsor and would like to share your story for our anniversary celebrations, please contact email@example.com. To see the children who are available for sponsorship and to make a difference in a young life, visit: www.erdo.ca/sponsor-now or call 1-800-779-7262.
This article appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo: Kaarina Hsieh