Sherry Varughese visited Guatemala to meet the community where her church has partnered.
Lighthouse Community Church in Commack, New York, was engaging with other cultures long before they began to partner with Food for the Hungry (FH). As an ethnically inclusive community in the multicultural context of Long Island, they knew that the way to share Christ with their community was by focusing on engaging the community and pursuing social justice.
“My church is already about engaging with people,” Sherry said. “We are already doing that here in New York on Long Island. We incorporate different cultures, such as worshiping in a different language or genre.”
Sherry asked the church’s engagement minister to host a Hunger Sunday with FH, and he embraced the opportunity.
Sharing Child Sponsorship
Last spring, the church hosted Hunger Sunday, a nationwide day in partnership with FH to spread awareness about child sponsorship.
Tweet This: Your church can host Hunger Sunday, a nationwide day to help the world’s most vulnerable children. https://goo.gl/HuLrcF
“We got 16 child sponsorships out of 75 people in the church!” Sherry reported.
One of those children, Ezequiel, age 5, was sponsored by Sherry and her sons. Shortly after committing to sponsor Ezequiel, Sherry had the opportunity to visit his community in Guatemala.
Trek to Guatemala
Sherry felt a special connection with her sponsored child’s mother. “When we said goodbye, she just held me and cried on my shoulder,” she said.
Sherry’s trip to Guatemala included a stop in her church’s partner community, Mamachaj, Guatemala.
“It was a really amazing experience because they were just so full of love,” she said. “You can tell God is very near that community. In the introduction, when we first met them, they were telling us that they wanted us to feel loved. I thought, ‘We came here so you would feel loved!’ That was really special.”
Tweet This: Sherry went to Guatemala to help people feel loved but got the surprise of her life instead. Read more >> https://goo.gl/5BBjGG
To meet her sponsored child, Sherry and her team hiked for 45 minutes down the side of a steep mountain. She marveled at the hardship Ezequiel’s family faced just to stay connected to their community. “For the family to get anywhere, they have to walk that far,” she commented. “It was a bit of a walk to get to any of the homes. It’s challenging for this family.”
Ezequiel is a quiet boy, but he and his mother connected immediately with Sherry. “He connected right away,” she said. “After that, every time he saw me in the community he wanted to come up and be with me again.”
Ezequiel’s mother made a particular impact on Sherry. “She’s young, and she has two kids,” Sherry said. “When I think about her and her kids living out there, my heart goes out in a more connected way. When we said goodbye, she just held me and cried on my shoulder.”
Lighthouse Community Church is built on Connect Groups, which are small groups of people committed to connecting with God, with each other and with their communities. The church envisions having Connect Groups leading teams to Mamachaj on a regular basis. They are also raising money toward projects in Mamachaj, and they will continue to share child sponsorship with their church.
Tweet This: Child sponsorship matters to vulnerable children! “Even though my family is far away, we’re connected with him.” >>https://goo.gl/5BBjGG
For Sherry and her sons, Ezequiel and his family remain close to them through prayer and letter writing. “When I went to Guatemala, I got to tell Ezequiel about my boys,” she said. “They didn’t get to go meet him, but I got to tell him about my two boys and how they’re eager to be his friends. Even though they’re far away, they’re connected with him.”