Genuine Faith: The Heart Bible for the Garifuna People in Guatemala

Miguel and Laura are faithful missionaries and trainers in the Heart Bible. They were sent from their church in Guatemala to a town called Livingston in eastern Guatemala. Livingston is made up of many different ethnic groups, including the Garifuna people who came from Africa over 200 years ago. They are an oral culture, and tell stories about their history and life through song and word of mouth. The Garifunas have suffered a lot in Guatemala. Miguel and Laura felt called to serve them because of the suffering they endured, and because there wasn’t a church that spoke their language and celebrated their culture in Livingston. They planned to be trained in Livingston as a stepping-stone to work in Sudan, but God had other plans, and they stayed to serve in Livingston.

During Laura and Miguel’s first month in Livingston, Equipping Evangelist (an HBN missionary) came to teach the Heart Bible to them and the church congregants. They were impressed with the method of learning Bible stories with the purpose of memorizing God’s Word in order to share it with others and internalize it in their own hearts. Miguel explained that there are many evangelicals in Guatemala, but so many of them have heard distorted versions of Bible stories through what they hear on the t.v. and radio. So when they heard the real stories from the Bible, they were amazed and thankful that they were no longer confused by the false messages they had heard. 

For four years Laura and Miguel taught the Bible in Livingston. When they first arrived, the people were wary of them out of concern that they were just tourists and would be leaving shortly. But once they saw that they were there to stay and the love they had for them, relationships started to thrive. They began by meeting in people’s homes to study the Bible and have a meal together. As Laura and Miguel taught the Bible stories, the people had so many questions. That’s when they realized that the Bible had become alive to them. The Garifuna began learning the stories on their own, they were full of love for God’s Word. Soon, they stopped serving meals at the Bible studies, and still people would come, because they were hungry for the Scriptures and their faith was genuine. 

Miguel taught the Heart Bible method every week on Sunday mornings, and they immediately saw the impact it had on their church. Those who were there from the beginning are now the ones teaching the Bible to the congregation. Hearing the truth of Scripture was transformative in the Garifuna’s lives, and their faith was made genuine by actively learning the Scriptures and engaging with the stories.  

The Heart Bible was also being taught in the children’s Sunday School, and it was amazing how quickly the kids learned the stories. Laura described how beautiful it was to see the children learn these stories and their faith grow as they internalized and memorized the Word of God. Now, many of these children are leaders in the church, and teaching others about God’s Word. One girl in particular was shown a Bible story cloth made by the International Mission Board. The story cloth is a visual that has 42 illustrated stories, each in a separate box on the cloth. Through hearing those stories, she accepted Jesus as her Savior. She is now one of those children who grew up to teach others the Bible, using the Heart Bible method and the story cloth together.

Miguel and Laura are still actively teaching the Heart Bible and they are seeing the amazing transformation the spoken Word of God is having on the lives of people all over the world. Genuine faith is being produced in people who are taking God’s Word to heart and loving the truth of God’s stories!