Nationwide event in Guatemala gathers delegates for prayer and inspiration.
Published on: 10-26-2023
They came in droves of buses from all over Guatemala and even from neighboring Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize. More than 5,000 women left their homes and families to gather in Guatemala City, to take part in a countrywide women’s ministries event to hear the Word of God, pray, connect, and learn from one another. They also shared how they have been making a difference in their communities. The event was the largest women’s ministries congress in Guatemala, and it was held at the Majadas Zona 11 Forum Center on September 30.
A Historic Women’s Ministries Event
“This has been a historic event never before seen in our Guatemala Union,” Leticia de Hernández, women’s ministries director of the Guatemala Union, said. The congress superseded the previous one held in 2016, where 3,000 women attended, she added. “We have a large army of women who invest completely in the evangelistic efforts of the local churches and work together as head elders, small group leaders, lay evangelists, and much more, to impact their neighborhoods with the gifts and talents God has granted them.”
The women’s ministries congress sought to praise God for the evangelistic efforts of women, with more than 3,000 joining the church on average every year directly from their ministry. It also sought to motivate women to move forward in preparing others for Jesus’ return, Hernández said.
The large group of women who participated in the congress is only a fraction of the more than 125,000 active women throughout the church in Guatemala, Hernández said.
Guatemala’s Minister of Faith and Education, Claudia Ruiz Casasola, and Edna Portales, her vice minister, praised the work of the thousands of Adventist women in Guatemala and their impact on the lives of so many citizens across their communities.
Fulfilling the Mission
General Conference women’s ministries director Heather Dawn-Small encouraged women to make a real difference where they can have the most influence — in their families and places of work. “If we are going to be different women from the rest, we must let the Lord revive our hearts, reenergize us, renew us, restore us, and transform us,” Dawn-Small said. “We must feel our need of God, have faith, and grow.”
Everyone has problems and challenges, she added. “But despite those, God instructs us to go and fulfill the mission.” Dawn-Small reminded the thousands of women that God sees each of them as individuals, knows their struggles and their sadness, but loves each one. “Wherever we go, we must share the love of Jesus so people can see His love reflected in us and our actions,” she said.
Edith Ruiz, women’s ministries director of the Inter-American Division (IAD), encouraged those gathered to face any feelings of inadequacy that may limit them to grow in love and acceptance in the Lord. “We must see ourselves as God sees us and not follow the world’s standards of beauty, worth, or acceptance,” Ruiz said. “Never underestimate the power of spending time alone with God because it will for sure change your life and transform you and help you make a difference wherever you are.”
Being Transformed in Jesus
Ruiz reminded the large group of women that they can make a huge difference for mission where they are. “You don’t need an academic degree, or [to] speak many languages, or live in a city to make a difference,” Ruiz said. “You can make a difference simply by your actions, through a transformed life in Jesus every day.”
Women from each of the eight conferences took time to report the different evangelism activities and initiatives they have been following this year in their communities.
“It was really impressive to see so many women wearing their colorful dresses and sharing in their own dialects the ways in which they are fulfilling the mission of the church,” Ruiz said. “Mission is not just for a particular group like men, or women, or young people or children,” she said. “All of us must be used as tools to fulfill God’s purposes.” Seeing the unity and support the women had for one another was impressive, she added.
A Rescuing Mission
Women are following the Inter-American Division women’s ministries focus this year, which highlights the need to be involved in a rescuing mission. “Women rescuing or taking back the mission, rescuing lives through evangelism, rescuing the community with outreach initiatives, rescuing families, and more, working from the heart to make that difference for Jesus,” Ruiz said. “Listening [to] how they have been using Bible studies prepared specifically for them to use and seeing how they have contextualized them in their initiatives and activities across Guatemala has been a blessing.”
The congress was part of a larger plan led by the Adventist Church in Guatemala to engage its members in active involvement in evangelistic and discipleship programs, Gustavo Menéndez, personal ministries director for the Guatemala Union, said. “Thousands of women across our churches and congregations are actively contributing to growing the church in Guatemala.”
The Guatemala Union has more than 195,900 Seventh-day Adventists worshipping in 1,370 churches and congregations across the country. The church operates five conferences and three missions, 30 primary and secondary schools, as well as two radio stations that reach 80 percent of the country.