Last night our Guatemala team visited a small remote village located literally on the edge of a mountain. Arriving to greet these people was no easy task. The final ten miles required over an hour of driving on a road that receives little attention. No road I’ve driven in the states compared to this road. One mission trip participant was overheard making the proclamation that he’ll “never complain about Michigan potholes again”. Not for the faint of heart indeed, yet we all arrived intact with no one turning green.
Much could be written about the primitive nature of these remote mountain people groups, yet that is not my focus today. An earlier survey, prior to our arrival, revealed that there were approximately 75 families in this village, and their spirituality consisted of 10% Christian, 10% Catholic, and 80% Mayan Paganism. This village had never encountered a group of thirty-four gringo’s, yet we were greeted warmly. Despite a language barrier, warm smiles go a long way to break the ice and initiate a connection. Children are always the first to risk, and this village was no exception. Upon producing a few coloring books and a ball or two out of a well-worn suitcase, the distance between us and them faded and soon many children were sitting on the laps of our team members, connecting in ways that words mostly likely could not.
As the night progressed, the PBM Guatemalan team set up a makeshift screen and DVD player, and soon the “Jesus” film was projecting. Many villagers were riveted to the screen, and it was not difficult to conclude that many had never seen a movie. I was intrigued by the attentiveness displayed, but as I looked upon their faces, I was gripped with something much deeper than the outward appearance of a people group I would only encounter for one brief moment in my life.
The group Kutless sings a song entitled “Sea of Faces”. As I looked out over this crowd, the Spirit of God moved me as I was struck by a sea of faces, all representing a people group made in the image of God, living primitive lives, yet perhaps never hearing the story of the Gospel. Kutless describes, in the first verse of their song, “ten million people all with their problems, why should anyone care”. Back home, it seems we often live our lives this way. We are millions with problems, many self-imposed, all focused on our own little lives, not having the eyes to see beyond our selves. Here I was witnessing a sea of faces, living simplistic, having no clue as to happenings in the outside world, yet simply seeking to work hard, provide for their family, and survive another day.
“Sometimes my life seems so trivial”, sings Kutless. Can you identify – I certainly can. We are, as they sing, “immersed in the greatness of space”, easily lost and consumed in many things that have little to no lasting value. Looking into those faces last night was not trivial. In many ways, I bore witness to the image of God vividly outlined in each face. The “greatness of space” no longer mattered, only that moment, that opportunity, to give testimony to the unfailing love of our God.
Later that evening, Pablo, one of PBM’s Guatemalan pastors gave a heartfelt, compelling presentation of the Gospel, one in which the Spirit of God was moving. His heart truly connected with the hearts of this people group, and when it came time for an invitation, an immediate response occurred. At that moment, the seventy-five or so villagers were no longer just a “sea of faces”, they became brothers and sisters with us, part of our eternity group who will enjoy our God forever.