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Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America. The large population has provided LHM with tremendous opportunities to share God's love throughout Guatemala since launching its ministry there in 1993.

LHM— Guatemala (known locally as Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones) recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, as well as the 30th anniversary of Director Rebeca de Franco, with a full weekend of activities. These included a special Project JOEL field program for youth on Friday; a music concert on Saturday; and a worship service on Sunday.

The Project JOEL event, with 425 junior high students as well as school officials and teachers in attendance, included a motivational speech by a former Project JOEL student who has now started his career as a sports journalist. In addition to hearing him share details about his personal journey to accomplish his professional dreams, attendees watched a drama written and directed by Guisselle Pena, the ministry center's Project JOEL coordinator, and performed by a group of volunteer actors. Following the presentations, each student received a Bible with the Small Catechism from Lutheran Heritage Foundation before enjoying light refreshments.

Rebeca was walking among the kids during the program when she noticed a sad girl looking down with her hair covering her face. Rebeca asked, "Are you okay?" The young girl replied, "No," with tears in her eyes and running down her cheeks. Rebeca said to her, "Whatever is happening in your life, I want you to know that you can talk to God and ask Him to help you. He will do it because He keeps His promises. He has done it for me, and He will do it for you, too."

Rebeca gave the girl her phone number and the next day the girl texted saying her name was Maria and asking if she could talk with Rebeca on the phone. During their call, Maria asked if she could introduce a friend that also would like to talk to her. The girls continue to have conversations with members of the LHM team and hear how God provides hope and comfort for their lives.

A large number of volunteers were engaged at different times throughout the weekend, including the concert performed by the "Schola Cantorum Cristo Rey" and the "Duo Yadá" at the Cristo Rey Lutheran Church, the worship service that was the official closing of the celebration, and a fellowship luncheon that followed the service. Local pastors were recognized for their support of the ministry and the pastor and several members from a Lutheran church in Zacapa traveled a long way to attend the festivities.

Ministry in Guatemala Today
As young people face complex moral and social challenges, Project JOEL continues to be the ministry center's flagship program by providing a safe space to discuss tough topics such as relationships, gangs, and drugs, all rooted in the love of God for them. Through partnerships with public schools, staff and volunteers offer Project JOEL events that engage and empower young people to make positive choices. The program has been widely successful and is even endorsed by the Guatemalan government's Ministry of Education. LHM-Guatemala currently works in four elementary schools, with 1,600 students, and at four junior and high schools, reaching 1,500 students. Besides reaching the students in class, the staff hosts four special meetings with parents each year, with presentations on different topics of interest.

In addition to Project JOEL, the ministry provides 30-minute children's television specials airing during Easter and Christmas (El Pastorcito and Botas Rojas) on a station that reaches the majority of the Guatemalan population; brings food and spiritual counseling to families dwelling in extreme poverty through its holistic program; sends daily devotionals with messages of encouragement, hope, and reflection based on the Christian faith through various channels like WhatsApp and email; and reaches people through digital platforms and virtual workshops that provide online resources and establish relationships with people who are looking for help and biblical answers for their lives.

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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