by Bob Gerow
Editor's Note: The following is an excerpted interview with Director of AMG Guatemala Bob Hastings by AMG Development Administrator Bob Gerow.
Gerow: Ministry is about people, not programs, or numbers. With that in mind, is there a particular child in whose life or experience as part of AMG's ministry stands out in your mind?
Hastings: One child in particular stands out to me. Arly is a seven-year-old that was born with some physical handicaps. Her two brothers were already attending one of AMG's child development centers. When Arly's needs came to our attention, AMG sought out ways to help her get medical care that she wouldn't otherwise have opportunity to receive. A church in Florida offered funds to sponsor Arly, so that she could receive the treatment that she needed.
For the last three years, Arly has been receiving physical therapy, and medical treatment. Three times a week she attends a special center in Guatemala City to help handicapped children with their health issues.
Arly has improved a hundredfold compared to when she was first came to AMG. With the assistance of either a walker, or her mother's help, for the first time in the last few months, she has been able to walk on her own. Soon she will begin to attend the center a few days a week so she can, together with the other children, start learning how to read, how to write, and how to interact with other children. None of this would ever have been possible for Arly, had she not received this special sponsorship, or the help that AMG has been able to provide for her these past few years.
Gerow: How this has impacted the family?
Hastings: Arly's mom is a single mother with three other children. Her older daughter, whom AMG has also helped, also has physical handicaps, and this mom puts her life and her energy into her children. Arly's progress is the fulfillment of her dream that her daughter be able to walk on her own.
Gerow: What's been the spiritual impact?
Hastings: Arly's brothers attend our Las Vistas Childcare Center. Both of them have made a profession in the Lord Jesus Christ. Arly's mom is a Christian believer whose faith has been strengthened. We are praying for the day when Arly also understands the gospel and responds in faith. The spiritual impact has been significant.
Gerow: Let me also ask if there is an individual on staff in Guatemala who stands out in your mind, whose life and service reflect the spiritual focus of AMG's ministry?
Hastings: Sylvia is the director of our childcare center in the Limon project. Sylvia believes that the commitment that she and her staff have to the Lord, and to AMG, is to plant the seeds of the gospel, and water those seeds wherever possible. They take that commitment so seriously that on Saturdays they hold special services at our childcare center for the parents of the children. Most of the children's parents work fulltime or more than fulltime, and don't have the opportunity to experience what goes on in the childcare center.
Sylvia and her staff-on their own initiative-hold worship and evangelistic services every Saturday morning. They take that opportunity to share the gospel with the parents, to share with them what's taking place in the lives of their children during the weekdays that they can't be there. That's the level of dedication that Sylvia has. We don't pay her to work on Saturdays; she and her staff do that because they want to fulfill that responsibility to plant and water the seeds of the gospel.
Gerow: That's encouraging!
Hastings: Let me tell you also about Juan Carlos. We hired Juan Carlos just a little over a year ago. He was a recent graduate from the local seminary in Guatemala City, and has a pastoral degree. He approached us because he wanted to work with a mission organization in Guatemala. Juan Carlos is currently the director of our Christian Education program. His responsibilities include developing a Bible program, training our Bible teachers, and making sure that it's all implemented in our childcare centers and our schools. On a weekly basis, Juan Carlos has a group of Bible teachers together, and he trains them. And on the other days of the week they, in turn, are training the children.
Juan Carlos has a vision for solid, biblical teaching of the children in our childcare centers. He has a particular interest for the teenagers that are in our childcare centers and schools. And he is planning now to start some organized youth activities for the teenagers in our city projects, and his hope is to develop ministry programs for them as well, so that they can in turn take the things they have learned and carry them on to other people.
Gerow: What attracts people like Sylvia and Juan Carlos to work with AMG?
Hastings: With their qualifications, both Juan Carlos and Sylvia could go elsewhere and make more money. Their desire is to serve the people, their own people in their own culture, with the gifts and abilities that God has given to them. They see an organization like AMG as able to have an impact on the lives of children and their families. They see the opportunity for ministry and for service to the Lord, and they are very dedicated to that in their own lives.
Gerow: Tell us, how can we pray for these dear people?
Hastings: Like Silvia and Juan Carlos, most of AMG's national workers come from very difficult family and economic situations. They work very hard for the money they earn. Pray that the Lord would sustain them; that He would provide for their families and He would meet all of their needs. Also, pray for the children in our programs. We want to serve them well. We want to introduce them to Jesus, and we are always in need of sponsors to join us in that noble objective.
To become a ministry partner by sponsoring a national worker like Sylvia or Juan Carlos,
or a child like Arly in one of AMG's Child Development Centers,
visit www.amginternational.org, or call AMG at 1-800-251-7206.