ROACH -- Churchnet (the Baptist General Convention of Missouri) celebrated a longstanding partnership with believers in Guatemala at a mission banquet April 1 at Windermere Baptist Conference Center and raised nearly $10,000 to continue the ministry.
Part of Churchnet's Share Hope Summit annual meeting, the banquet featured Carol Bercian, who served for many years as the Guatemala Baptist Convention's director of children's ministries and coordinator of international partnerships.
While she continues as Churchnet's partnership liaison, she ministers primarily through Tabitha Ministry in Guatemala City. Bercian founded the ministry four years ago at the edge of the city dump after she discovered that many marginalized individuals -- especially women and children -- live near or in the dump and scavenge for food to eat or items to sell for food.
The ministry provides a safe place for children while their mothers search the dump. Currently, about 75 children receive two meals and a snack each day and early childhood education to prepare them for school.
Tabitha Ministry also reaches out to the women, many of whom have been abused or involved in prostitution. Some have been rescued from human trafficking. Many women have come to Christ and participate in discipleship training the ministry offers. They also are offered job skills training, such as sewing, carving and jewelry-making.
"While we may not be able to get rid of poverty, we are able to give them what they need -- the love of Christ," Bercian said through Gary Snowden, who translated for her.
Churchnet has concentrated its efforts in western Guatemala, primarily through leadership training with pastors and in helping churches minister to their neighborhoods.
Annual meeting participants responded to the challenge to raise $10,000 for continuing ministry in Guatemala. By Saturday morning, they had given or pledged $9,520. Funds donated above the goal in the weeks ahead will be earmarked for the Tabitha Ministry.
Bercian also raised money by offering the Guatemalan women's craft items at the convention meeting.