By Chad Mattingly, outgoing President, and Carrie Saathoff, incoming President of the CEDEPCA USA Board.
So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 5:18)
The above scripture passage was the focus of our final devotion at the CEDEPCA USA Board meeting yesterday. This past week, Board members flew in from all corners of the US to hold their annual meeting, strategize ways to increase support for CEDEPCA, travel together, and witness the incredible, and often unseen, work that CEDEPCA is doing to transform lives and realities here in Guatemala…and beyond.
CEDEPCA (the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America) is an educational institution that transforms lives by providing training and accompaniment, and by offering spaces for reflection to women and men from diverse Christian traditions, communities and contexts. They confront social issues through theological education. They are committed to building a more just world and promoting life in abundance.
Many of the projects we are most familiar with are seen – cows, chickens, fuel-efficient stoves, newly-planted trees, family gardens. Clearly, all of these are critical to improving day-to-day living and are a necessary first building block. But what is seen is temporary. When you look closely and listen carefully, you will witness the subtle but dramatic shift toward a new world filled with God’s love and promise. What is unseen is eternal.
From the beginning of the scriptures, God sought leaders and a people with eyes to see beneath the external to the internal, the heart. It is in the heart, the unseen, that deeper, lasting transformation takes place.
This week, we saw this internal transformation in women who found self-confidence and their voice after attending CEDEPCA’s biblical and theology classes. We saw it in those who survived the armed conflict and, with CEDEPCA’s support, now own a thriving weaving business and are providing for their families. We saw it in women who were once battered and told that they were worthless, learning they are precious in the eyes of God and becoming empowered to teach and preach. We saw it in the hopes and dreams of the youth who started their own bakery, under the guidance of CEDEPCA. They can now envision a brighter future for themselves. And we saw it in ourselves, as we were drawn closer to our partners and to this work.
At one point, a CEDEPCA staff member said, “CEDEPCA was born in the heart of God.” We firmly believe that CEDEPCA is indeed a ministry of God’s heart. It is an organization that pursues God’s intentions for all of us, by loving what God loves and valuing what God values. We feel truly blessed to be a part of this work and hope that you do as well.
Chad Mattingly is Lead Pastor at Kingwood Christian Church (Kingwood, Texas) and has served on the CEDEPCA USA Board for four years. Carrie Saathoff is the Co-Chair of the Guatemala Partnership of New Castle Presbytery and has served on the CEDEPCA USA Board for three years.
This is our final post for this trip. We hope you have enjoyed following along! To keep up-to-date with what this partnership is doing throughout the year, sign up here to receive our bi-monthly email updates. Thank you for joining us on this journey.