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Snapshot of Guatemala

12%

of people live below the poverty line

36%

of people lack access to proper sanitation

22%

of people can’t read and write

Poverty is rising in Guatemala, with indigenous people and rural communities most affected. As crops fail in ongoing drought, many families are gripped by famine. Almost half of the nation’s children are chronically malnourished—one of the highest rates in the world.

After almost four decades of civil war ended in 1996, Guatemala made significant ground in the fight against poverty. Despite its economy being the largest in Central America, the nation is still racked by some of the worst poverty, malnutrition and maternal-child mortality rates in the region—and the gap between rich and poor is growing.

There are many underlying issues: crop failure caused by drought and a changing climate; political corruption and cronyism; a lack of protections for workers leading to rampant wage exploitation; rising violence at the hands of drug cartels and gangs. Their combined destruction has seen a record wave of Guatemalans flee the country in recent years, most headed for Mexico and onward to the United States border.

President Morales took office in 2016 on a promise to end corruption and bring a new culture of transparency. But shortly afterward, he was investigated for campaign finance mismanagement and faced three impeachment votes in his term in office. This month, the people head to the polls for a new Presidential runoff election, with former first lady Sandra Torres the frontrunner to take power.

In all of this, it is the poorest families that suffer most. Many are entirely dependent on remittances sent back by family members who have emigrated to the US—and more and more of those who haven’t gone yet will go soon, unless these underlying issues are addressed.

Local churches across the nation are stepping up to protect their people from extortion and violence, to offer shelter and food where they can, to meet basic needs and provide children with an environment of safety and security, where they can learn, grow and play without fear.

Jose Carlso Prem

Letter from Compassion Guatemala Director, José Carlos Prem

Dear Sponsor, My name is José Carlos Prem, and I have been the Country Director of Compassion Guatemala for nine years. I am a chemical engineer and I also graduated from the Central American Theological Seminary. Compassion started working in Guatemala due to a terrible earthquake in 1976 and it was officially registered in 1989. We currently have 218 local church partners that are helping us release more than 57,700 children from poverty in Jesus’ name. I want to express how very grateful I am for your thoughtful sensitivity in ministering to the children of Guatemala.

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Lorenzo’s Radio Show

When Lorenzo’s older brother got tired of reading him Bible stories every night, he decided to teach him to read, so five-year-old Lorenzo could enjoy the stories whenever he wanted to. For months, the two boys sat together, sounding out words.

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Prayer requests for Guatemala

  • Pray for Zulmy Carbajal. Her mother has constant medical checkups because her health has been deteriorating. We pray for the Lord to work miracles in Zulmy’s life and the life of her mother. Please pray that God will protect her mother against any disease that is affecting her health and for a speedy recovery.

  • Pray for Kimberly. Her family is breaking apart. May God help them during this trying time. We pray that the Lord provides her parents with wisdom to make the best decisions and help them overcome this difficult situation. Please pray for Kimberly’s wellbeing during this time.

  • Pray for Iglesia De Dios Evangelio Complete Child Development Centre (GU0420) to grow. The centre has a burning desire to support every child in their community; please pray that the Lord will provide the resources they need to keep bringing His hope. Pray for His guidance and wisdom as they seek to do His work.

  • Pray for Iglesia Lluvias De Gracia Child Development Centre (GU0909) as many of the children here suffer violence at home. Local staff are working through the child protection process. May God protect their hearts and give wisdom to the team—please pray that His peace will flood homes in this neighbourhood.

  • Pray for Pastor Ramiro Perez from the Asamblea de Dios Alfa y omega Church (GU0523). He is recovering from face paralysis and lung disease. May God keep healing his body.

  • Please pray for God to break the drought that grips so much of the nation; pray that rains would come at a time that will bless farmers and their crops and help parents to feed their children. Pray that aid and government services would reach the children and families who need them most.

  • Please pray for safety and God’s protection over church partners, children and families in communities where violence is a real threat. Pray that families would have the freedom to go about their lives; pray for the lifting of oppression and fear in those communities. Pray that God’s Spirit would move to change hearts and that local churches would minister wisely and boldly to those in need.