While many Vicksburg residents enjoyed a long 4th of July weekend, a group of volunteers from area Baptist churches dedicated their time to building a new outdoor chapel for the village of San Rafael in Guatemala, providing medical care to villagers and spreading the gospel.
The 20-member team made up of members from area churches led by Woodlawn Baptist Church arrived in Guatemala on July 2 to complete work on the new Los Vados Church, replacing the previous church, which consisted of poles holding a tarp for cover.
Other churches participating in the project by providing volunteers, donations, or both, included the First Baptist and Immanuel Baptist Church of Vicksburg; Oak Grove Baptist Church, Bentonia; New Hope Baptist Church, Foxworth; Big Sandy Baptist Church, Moundville, Alabama; and the First Baptist Church, Carthage.
“San Rafael is northeast of Guatemala City,” said Ann Moore, who along with her husband Dennis led the mission team. She said the area where the church is located is mountainous but not in the jungle and temperatures were in the 70s and cooler at night.
Moore said the team traveled to Guatemala City on July 2 and visited the village.
“We had worship on Sunday morning and after lunch we started working,” Moore said.
During the mission, the volunteers stayed in a hotel in San Rafael and traveled to the church, which is about 40 minutes away.
Moore said the money donated for the church building was sent in advance to missionaries Mike and Sandra Little, who are associated with Hattiesburg-based Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International, a Christian volunteer organization. traveling to the mission field and paying their own expenses to serve. the poor and the sick and to evangelize. The program provides free medical and dental services.
The labor to prepare and develop the foundation was provided by the villagers under the leadership of the Littles. The Mississippi team completed the building.
The church, which was dedicated in a ceremony on July 6, contains a wood-burning stove, sink, storage room, bathroom, tables and chairs on the podium. Moore said the church congregation plans to start a food ministry in the village, adding that the stove will be used for cooking.
While construction was underway, a medical team saw local residents to provide medical care and distribute medicine and reading glasses. A team of vets traveled throughout the area to treat the animals and the Vacation Bible School team taught Bible stories, provided crafts and played games with the children. Each person had the opportunity to share the gospel in all areas of ministry.
The team nurse came down with COVID-19 and was unable to travel, but a nurse who was a friend of the missionaries had recently arrived in the area and helped with medical checkups.
“We hired a Guatemalan doctor and we had a medical assistant,” Moore said. “They did general examinations; if they found anything serious, people were referred to a doctor. We didn’t give any prescription medication; just drugs you could get over the counter.
She added 334 medical patients treated, 836 prescriptions filled, 475 animals cared for, 124 children cared for and three new members were added to the church during the volunteers’ week-long stay.
Moore quoted a passage from 2 Corinthians 9:13-14 to describe missionary service to the village:
“For the ministry of this service is not merely ministering to the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing with many acts of thanksgiving to God. They will glorify God for your obedience to the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with others through proof through this service.