As our family glances back at 2016, we notice with gratitude how God’s hand has guided us along the way. The Book of Acts comes to mind, & the story of the Antioch church. Started by refugees from Saul’s persecution in Jerusalem, it was a pioneer in embracing both Jewish & Gentile believers. Christ’s light shone in their dynamic discipleship & vibrant growth. Later on, Saul showed up in Antioch, this time as a fellow believer. Before long he spearheaded Antioch’s efforts to spread the Gospel, and their church model, in places far & wide. Out in the mission field, Saul became known as the Apostle Paul.
Antioch Presbyterian Church: Almost 2½ years ago, a worshipping community began in our carport in Cobán. By God’s grace, it was chartered as a church on Nov. 3. Members chose to call it “Antioch,” claiming that historic vision of ethnic inclusion & boundless mission. There’s an average of 80 worshipers, with active youth & women’s societies, prayer groups & Bible study. The session has 2 male & 2 female elders, 4 deaconesses (including Bacilia) & Philip as pastor. Thanks, God, for all who’ve supported the raising of this congregation!
Cobán’s Presbyterian Complex: Thru 2016, progress continued on the multi-purpose building, with a hand from 6 U.S. teams. On Nov. 11, the Centro de Ministerio Norte “La Trinidad” was dedicated in honor of 2 key partners—Cincinnati’s Northminster PC & Trinity PC, Fairhope, AL (see photo). Along with the church, the center hosts seminary classes, dormitory, dining hall, water system, & is hub for 8 Q’eqchi’ presbyteries. Next up, a sorely-needed indigenous training center & guest house.
Diplomas were awarded in Cobán by Guatemala´s Presbyterian Seminary on Nov. 10 to 42 mostly Q’eqchi’ graduates. While the program has focused so far on pastors, next year will include new courses for lay leaders. While coordinating this, Philip also taught classes on church history, pastoral leadership, & New Testament.
Guatemala/USA partnerships have been a rich means of grace this year. For example: scholarship programs by Williamsburg PC in Chajul, Middle TN in the Peten, & Trinity PC; building efforts by Cincinnati’s Sycamore PC amongst the Q’anjob’al; neighborhood bhy Kingsport FPC; a Cobán water system by Denver Presbytery; & exchanges between women & youth.
As for our family, Bacilia just finished a 2nd year of nursing studies, with 1½ to go. School let out in Oct. for our kids. In Jan., Matthew starts 9th grade, Manny 6th, & Stefi 4th. Their live are also filled with soccer tournaments, ballet classes & music rehearsals.
The Antioch Partners: We’re so glad to serve with this Presbyterian missionary-sending agency, as well as the Outreach Foundation & other Presbyterian partners. It was great to visit some of you in the States earlier this year, and we hope for more visits in 2017. Paul wrote, “we are co-workers in God’s service” (1 Cor. 3:9). God calls us all to combine our talents & resources, & to uphold one another in Christ’s mission. Our work in Guatemala relies upon a network of “co-workers” for which we’re deeply grateful. We pray every blessing upon you as we honor Jesus’ birth, & look forward to the New Year as partners in Christ.
Written by Philip and Bacilia Beisswenger