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Going to Guatemala with the Gospel

 

Bryan Black

First Baptist Church, Douglasville members (starting at far end) Julia Rice, Sharon Koonce, and Steele Koonce present the Gospel to schoolchildren on a recent mission trip to Guatemala. Rice, a retired missionary mostly based in Honduras, was an interpreter on the trip.

DOUGLASVILLE — Under the leadership of Kevin Williams, First Baptist Church Douglasville’s student ministry is far more than fun and games. In fact, the middle school and high school students are called not only to commitment to Christ, but to an extreme surrender to Him.

The student ministry flies under the banner of Xtreme Life 1010. The 1010 part of the name is a reference to John 10:10 where Jesus promised not just life, but an abundant life to those who follow Him.

As many as 200 students come to FBC Douglasville on Sunday morning to study God’s Word; and Williams recently reported that 250 often come to the Wednesday evening worship service he plans for the students.

Many of Williams’ students are growing stronger in their faith and commitment to Christ and those who are willing are called upon to go to the next level of commitment, which is called Souled Out.

Over the years the Souled Out students have become involved in missions. They started with a mission trip to Savannah, then to Washington, then to Philadelphia for two summers and they have just returned from a mission trip to Guatemala.

There were 175 originally signed up for the Guatemala mission trip, but the requirements and cost of the trip eliminated about one-third of those who initially indicated an interest in participating in this summer’s mission to Central America. However, there were 120 people – mostly students – who set out with the mission team to Guatemala on June 3.

"The interpreter said,'These people live in a dangerous area. No one ever comes here. You have given their children medicine, beaded bracelets, and much love.'"

Kevin Williams, student minister
First Baptist Church, Douglasville

Those who qualified for the mission trip were required to meet every Sunday afternoon for three hours during the entire school year prior to the trip.

After the morning worship service the church ordered pizza for the students and they remained at the church for an hour of choir rehearsal under the direction of the church’s minister of music, Danny Koonce, who teamed with Williams to prepare for and coordinate the mission venture. Following the music rehearsal the students were engaged in an hour of Bible study with an emphasis on sharing the Gospel and then an hour to hone their skills in one of eight teams preparing for the mission trip.

Among the teams were a drama group, a musical ensemble, a sticks team (using long dowels), a puppet team, a food preparation team, Vacation Bible School teams, a medical team, witnessing teams, etc.

Prior to the mission trip to Guatemala, the Souled Out students were expected to engage in missions projects locally by assisting with such ministries as A Gift of Love Services, a benevolent ministry to the children of Douglasville. The Souled Out students of FBC were also urged to make a positive impact for Christ among their fellow students in the schools of Douglasville.

Bryan Black

Christian Bruno leads worship on guitar as Matthew Slater plays drums at a Guatemalan school.

The cost of the trip was $1,600 per missionary, so the financial expense and the time commitment was not for the faint of heart or for those not willing to make a significant commitment to the missions effort.

Based on what happened in Guatemala through the ministry of the Douglasville missions team, Williams commented, “It cost a lot, but the prize was worth the price.”

Garry Eudy, former pastor of Central Baptist Church in Douglasville, lived and served in Central American countries as an IMB missionary from 1978-1996. In 2009 Eudy sensed that God was calling him to mobilize volunteers to help fulfill the Great Commission. Since he knew the current needs and opportunities for volunteer missionary service in Guatemala, he helped coordinate the missions effort for the FBC Douglasville team.

Williams explained, “When Garry Eudy met us he said, ‘I hope you see these people the way God sees them and that you will feel about these people the way God feels about them.’

“By the end of the week our students were hugging them and they were hugging our kids. It was obvious that love ruled – that love always wins out.”

"It was awesome to see what God did through our students. He showed me that the Gospel is not limited by borders or languages."

Ansley Fowler, summer intern
First Baptist Church, Douglasville

Williams exclaimed, “We were engaged in ministering the three cities: Guatemala City, San Pedro, and Santiago. In Guatemala City we were in three different schools teaching character education and the students did their presentations in drama and puppetry. In one school with 700 students there were 200 professions of faith.

“After the school presentation we went to a very poor section of the city to a park for a ‘backyard’ Bible study. Children came from everywhere to the park. The numbers increased every day. We gave them hospital-like bracelets to identify themselves as members of the Bible club and when we arrived each day the children would come from every direction holding up their arms to show their bracelets and indicating their participation in the Bible study.

“The medical team set up a makeshift clinic and ultimately saw a thousand patients, many of whom had parasites. There were two physicians, two nurses, and two pharmacists operating the clinic. Hundreds of prescriptions and vitamins were disbursed for those in need.”

Bryan Black

A girl blows bubbles at a Guatemalan city park.

Zach Williams, summer intern at FBC and son of Kevin, ended up in the park with some of the Guatemalan students who were too old for the Vacation Bible School classes. He set up an Internet shop there and was able to share the Gospel via the translation options available on the Internet. He also won a young man to Christ who gave him a ride on a motorcycle.

Ansley Fowler, University of Georgia senior and summer student intern at FBC Douglasville, stated, “I knew there would be a language barrier in Guatemala. But I read in James 4:2-3 that so often that we have not because either we do not ask or we ask for selfish reasons. So, I prayed for God to break down those language barriers and that God would use me.

“The next thing I knew was that Garry Eudy was asking me if I would be willing to teach English in one of the schools in Guatemala. That was perfect, because they had to learn from me rather than me having to learn from them.

“It was awesome to see what God did through our students. He showed me that the Gospel is not limited by borders or languages.”

Williams added, “On the last day we met in the park and gave away everything we had. Guatemalan mothers were crying and I asked, ‘Why are they weeping?’

“The interpreter said, ‘These people live in a dangerous area. No one ever comes here. You have given their children medicine, beaded bracelets, and much love. They are aware of what you have done.’”

Fowler concluded, “Kevin’s first year here – 10 years ago – was my first year in the student ministry. This ministry is the best, not just because we have fun, but because this ministry has made a difference. The kids who have been in this ministry love the Lord and want to serve Him.

“The emphasis here will keep college students in church after college. The majority of my friends from this church are still involved in serving Christ.”

"By the end of the week our students were hugging them and they were hugging our kids. It was obvious that love ruled ..."

Kevin Williams, student minister
First Baptist Church, Douglasville

Bryan Black

First Baptist Douglasville Student Minister Kevin Williams holds the microphone for an interpreter as he presents the Gospel.

First Douglasville

Students at First Douglasville took part in outreach in Guatemala City, above, in addition to San Pedro and Santiago.

Bryan Black

A group of believers pray together. In ministering among three cities, missionaries presented the Gospel through such avenues as drama teams, music, and Vacation Bible School.

Bryan Black

Schoolchildren in Guatemala City watch as First Baptist Douglasville students present a concert. At one school, reported Student Pastor Kevin Williams, 200 children out of a student body of 700 made professions of faith.

Bryan Black

First Baptist Douglasville student leader Frank Bruno pinches his ear in making a point while speaking to schoolchildren.