By Dan King
Instead of a luxury cruise to some tropical paradise this year, consider an “Anabaptist Church Tour” in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras this fall. Charles Geiser will be leading this tour Oct. 19-30, and it will highlight what Anabaptist churches in the region are doing.
Experience firsthand and up close how God’s Spirit is working among Anabaptist believers in Central America. If you are worried about lacking fluency in Spanish, don’t let that be a barrier to taking part in this tour. Translation is provided, so participants do not need to know Spanish.
I was blessed and challenged by this tour in April of 2017, learning about the work of SEMILLA — Latin American Anabaptist Seminary. The seminary, located in Guatemala City, Guatemala, began in 1984. SEMILLA offers biblical, theological and pastoral training, serving more than 700 students from the region. Many of these students live far from Guatemala City, but they can participate in classes in learning centers throughout Central America.
In addition to providing theological training, SEMILLA provides language study, service opportunities and cultural immersion programs for more than 250 North Americans each year through CASAS, the Central America Study and Service Program.
SEMILLA also operates Casa Emaús, a guesthouse which hosts as many as 9,000 visitors and service group participants each year.
During my tour in April 2017, I was deeply moved while learning about the devastating 36-year civil war that claimed thousands of lives, mostly those of indigenous Mayan background. In spite of such traumatic suffering, God’s people are rebuilding their lives and communities. SEMILLA is a key part of that restoration, training hundreds of bi-vocational national pastors, mostly in rural areas.
After so many years of devastating war, God is indeed doing a new thing in Guatemala and in much of Latin America. God is using the local, indigenous people. It is not a paternalistic, colonialist type of church growth movement.
This trip was also a significant connection to my present work with Hispanic students at Dover High School, 95 percent of whom are Guatemalan. They were delighted with my reports about my time in their country.
To whet your appetite for this learning tour, see the documentary film Seeds of Peace, which is on YouTube at http://bit.ly/SEMILLASeedsofPeace. I would also be glad to come to your church with a 30-minute presentation about SEMILLA. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a presentation.
And, of course, if you cannot make the tour this fall, consider giving financially to this important work. You can donate online at http://bit.ly/SEMILLADonation or mail your check to SEMILLA Latin American Seminary, 1104 S. Seventh St., Goshen, IN 46526.
Dan King is a retired Ohio Conference pastor living in Dover, Ohio. He serves as a member of the Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team.