Guatemala is a country filled with great beauty, hope, joy…and much need. More than 60% of the population lives in poverty; 20% lives on less than $1 per day. Half of the population is illiterate, and one out of every two children, under age five, is chronically malnourished. Scars from a brutal 36-year armed conflict run deep, and violence and corruption are still very prevalent.

New Castle Presbytery and its member churches have faithfully responded to the widespread, critical needs of Guatemalans since the late-1990s. Working directly with the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development (Association) in the Western Highlands and with the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA) in Guatemala City, we have supported sustainable development initiatives for indigenous women and their families for many years.

This partnership—first and foremost—is about relationships. We are not “doing for” but rather “being with” our sisters and brothers in Guatemala. Our priorities are praying for each other, hanging out, enjoying fellowship, working side-by-side, and walking hand-in-hand as we journey together through our lives as God intended. For us, this partnership is personal. It reaches beyond education and revolving funds. It runs deeper than clean water and latrines. It transcends walls and borders, cultures and languages, fears and falsehoods.

We truly know our partners. We visit them several times annually, communicate with them weekly, and pray for them daily. Together, we dream, take risks, celebrate successes, and learn from each other. Through this ongoing partnership, we will continue to grow together—as equals—surrounded by God’s love.

Photo by Gary Bryde