GC3 has a long history of association with many mission partners. During the past 118 years, support has been provided to many Kiwis who have given the best years of their lives to present the ‘Good News of Jesus’ in cross-cultural settings around the globe.
Responding to the call of God on their hearts, the ingenuity these people have contributed in tandem with the Holy Spirit has meant their ministry has had significant impact for building God’s kingdom here on earth.
One remarkable statistic of such dedication is from an analysis of the entries in our Daily Prayer Guide. An exercise tabling the length of active service of all adults currently listed there produces a grand total in excess of 3,200 years! We think that is a phenomenal record.
In past issues of GC3 Connect, we have captured the fascinating stories of some who have contributed many years of missionary service. And to mark a special occasion for Graham and Betty, We have asked them to write of their reflections and experiences of their past fifty years in Guatemala. Here’s their interesting tribute to the faithfulness of God in their lives and experience.
GC3 Operations Director
50 YEARS OF SERVICE
We want to thank and praise our wonderful Heavenly Father, who for fifty years has faithfully given us the privilege of serving Him in Guatemala. As a young couple with two small children, Rhonda 3 and Harvey 2 years old, we left New Zealand by boat for the States, from where we flew to Guatemala.
t was a new country, a new language, new people and customs. Everything was new. It was a step into the unknown, with concern for our children’s safety probably being one of the biggest factors to face. It was so wonderful to have Ben and Helen Goatley there to help us through that first year. Graham had attended school in Owaka with Ben, many years before. Our families, to this day, are still very close. We moved into Ben and Helen’s rented home next to the “Sala” (Hall) while they took more convenient lodgings for their family.
There have been many wonderful moments when we have seen the Lord working to bring people into His Kingdom. Many others where we have seen people grow in the Lord. After 18 months Graham was able to take over the printing press that Gray Russell had maintained, and began editing the magazine, “Contendor Por La Fe“, which went to all Spanish speaking countries. Gray and Win sold us their home and the printing press, moving to live and work in Antigua. Graham very quickly learned to set type, proof-read in Spanish and run things. Later much of the time was spent in constructing the camp 45 minutes out of the city while continuing to teach and preach.
Graham often said, “Our safety does not consist in the absence of danger but in the protection of the Lord”. We have seen the Lord so wonderfully protect us in many instances of danger, like being held up at gun-point on occasions, having the property being broken into while we slept, with thousands of dollars worth of goods stolen, being caught up in shoot-outs and riots, civil war, and more. He has helped and given wisdom where there were very serious problems. The Lord gave us words of comfort, encouragement and very real discernment through His Word when it was something far beyond us to deal with, naturally speaking.
Together we have employed innumerable hours counseling and guiding couples as they sought marriage and others in the context of a troubled marriage and have seen the far-reaching results of this time well spent. Graham is one of very few, apart from lawyers and elected officials, to have the authorisation to conduct the legal aspect of weddings.
Betty has been involved in teaching (which is her passion), with Bible studies for women, children, supervising and superintending Sunday School and preparing lots of holiday programs for children as well as retreats for spiritual growth.
Hospitality has figured prominently in the implementation of the commission to make disciples and is an aspect of service in which we have sought to give an example, as very few employ it in this culture except for family members.
We can only humbly thank the Lord for all He has done. We thank Him for a wonderful family, Rhonda, Harvey, Andrew and Martin, who faced many of these things with us; for parents and family who willingly encouraged us to leave them at cost to themselves, as well as our home church in Putaruru which has been there for us in every way so faithfully all these years. Many other churches and people have prayed and given to the Lord so that His Work could continue also.
We acknowledge our wonderful Christian family in many parts of Guatemala who so warmly welcome us, pray for us and encourage us. We love every one of them so dearly. The Lord has been so good to let us see so many grow in His paths. But, without a doubt, there is a lot we have not seen as the Lord of the Harvest does His sovereign work in hearts that have allowed His Word to enter.
On the 22nd of November, 50 years to the day of when we arrived in Guatemala, we had a service of thanksgiving to the Lord where we invited neighbours, friends and Christians, as a witness for what the Lord has done and as a means of outreach to those who do not yet know the Lord.
Graham & Betty
Day 19, GC3 Daily Prayer Guide