Author: James Howard-Smith, 27 July 2023
Bible mission workers in Guatemala have an amazing heart for the vulnerable, sharing God’s word with young offenders, children with special needs and teenage mothers.
Annelisse Palma leads this work, and with your help she’s extending it to include a Guatemalan take on Open the Book. She and her team will use interactive Bible storytelling to reach struggling and traumatised young people with the life-changing power of Scripture.
A quarter of Guatemalans are illiterate, and only a third come through the education system. Save the Children has said it’s the toughest place to grow up in Latin America. In this context, girls become pregnant very young, often in abusive relationships. Annelisse and her team bring these girls together and introduce them to the Bible as a source of healing.
‘We must remember that they are children having children,’ Annelisse says. ‘These girls are suffering the loss of their own childhood. We can provide education and food and clothes for the baby, but only the word of God can heal. Knowing Jesus is a new start.’
‘Bible Society came in my most difficult moments and helped me feel God’s love.
‘When I was 14 years old, I got pregnant by a man older than me who had a family. He found out about the baby and disappeared. When I was 17 years old, I started a new relationship with another person, but he lost his life in gang violence, leaving me with a second baby. I currently live with my mom who suffers from a complicated health condition.
‘Bible Society showed me that God has a purpose for my life and that the cycles of violence must be broken. Their workshops are helping me support my children and my mom.
‘Thank you for guiding me on the path of forgiveness and helping me to see what is precious inside me. Today I can say that my heart is being healed.’
Annelisse and her team are forming Bible storytelling groups, in addition to their long-running Bible healing groups, to address the spiritual, emotional and psychological wounds of girls like Bianca. They’re working with churches and other organisations to provide training and build support networks.
It can be difficult for girls who have suffered so much, so young to form a relationship with God and to properly love children they weren’t ready to have. Annelisse says: ‘They need to learn through the word of God that suffering is not what God intended for them. He is there with them, ready to bring healing and the knowledge of a true and lasting love, and to help them become loving mothers of their children.’
You can help Annelisse and her team give hope to desperate girls by bringing Open the Book to Guatemala. Your donation will introduce a girl like Bianca to the Bible as the foundation for a transformed life.