A Church Torn Apart

Date posted: Tuesday 12 January 2016

On December 21st, what were you doing? Were you preparing for warm family gatherings and lovely church services? Were you trying to maintain traditions as the birth of Jesus approached?


On December 21st, Pastor Karen Castillo, ILAG President, sent out an urgent email requesting help for the ILAG church in Santa Amelia. This church, Cristo, Luz del Mundo (Christ, the Light of the World), was about to be torn apart - literally.


One of the founding members of this church, a man who had more to give than others and gave a good deal, was angry. He had been angry with other church members for some time and had left. And now he was back, back to reclaim what he had given ten years ago. What he wanted most was denied him by the city council - the land on which the church building sat. So he sent the church a letter to alert them that he was coming the next day to take everything else he had given: the wooden planks for a good portion of the church building, the wooden planks that encompassed the large outdoor kitchen, the fence surrounding the entire lot, the cables to hook up to city electricity, the kitchen cooking pots, the altar cloths, and even the front door. He generated panic and fear in the church members, just days before the holy celebration of Christmas.


He showed up the next day with hired men to pull away the planks, tear down the fence, pull out the electric cables, take off the door, pile up the pots and altar cloths and haul everything away.


Como Park Lutheran (St. Paul) and Lutheran Church of the Resurrection (Roseville) are partners with Cristo, Luz del Mundo. They had recently sent an offering to upgrade the kitchen. Pr. Karen asked if this offering could be redirected to replace the fencing and the front door. If not secured, anything left would certainly be stolen.


Permission was given, and people got to work. Friends outside of the church came to help build a new door, to install a new fence, to reconnect the electricity. Many community members supported them in these days before Christmas. Two new families have since joined the church.


Pastor Karen wrote, "I think something really good came up after this challenge: unity, friendship, brotherhood, faith. And the fear vanished."


Christmas Eve services were held. Families gathered. Traditions were kept. And fear vanished in a small Guatemala church named Christ, the Light of the World.


Janet Metcalfe
Chair, Guatemala Task Force