By: Chris McNutt
According to a National Geographic study, three billion people around the world use open fire to cook. This type of cooking produces about 400 cigarettes’ worth of smoke an hour. With prolonged exposure, heart and lung disease, respiratory infections and cancer can occur. In rural Guatemala, most rural villages cook with open fire. There are several family members in our village whose health is suffering due to prolonged smoke inhalation. Additionally, families have to go way up into the mountains to collect firewood every couple of days.
Thankfully, God opened the door for Paula and I to find a company that made quality, cookstoves that consume very little fire wood and have chimneys to vent smoke outside the roofs of homes. We raised the money to buy every single family in the Hope of Life/Causelife Village a new cookstove! We have 53 families and had 53 stoves that were going to take at least three weeks to install.
There are several older boys in the village who we have known for many years, but sadly only from a distance. They like to keep to themselves and hang out as a group always in the background, always watching, rarely participating, but always there. God put it on my heart to approach these boys and offer to pay them to help me install these stoves. Thankfully, I listened. Within 5 full days we had every stove professionally installed.
I have to say, I have had the most incredible time working with these young men! We have formed a bond that will last a life time. It has been great to get to know each and every one of them. Only four of them have professed to be Christians. They are young boys who have their eyes on girls that walk past, and at times will joke and look at me and realize I understand what they were saying. It has helped them become more aware of their conversation and language. We have mutual respect for each other. Seeds have been planted in their hearts. I prayed with them each morning before work, sharing my testimony with them. As the week went on, they noticed that I could joke and laugh with them and still have a great time. Wednesday night, I took the guys to dinner to thank them for their hard work. At dinner, I asked them to come to church with me that Thursday night. I thought they might laugh it off and say “sure, Chris, sure”. But they didn’t. You see, they would often be outside of the church talking loud, disturbing those of us inside that are trying to listen to the message.
Thursday night came and there was a power outage in our town that night. I thought there is no way they are coming. But every single one of those guys were sitting outside of the church, waiting for me to arrive so we could all go in together.
The Holy Spirit gave Pastor Enrique a special message that night that spoke to the hearts of them. The message was in direct correlation with the stoves they worked hard to install that week, stoves that were designed to remove the harmful smoke that the families breath in each and every day. The message was about how smoke (sin) fills, and pollutes our lives, but the love, grace and forgiveness of our Lord and Savior can and will cleanse our lives of the smoke that can can harm and destroy us. The young men that helped install theses stoves have continued to join me in church! The families are very thankful, blessed and absolutely love their new stoves. Many thanks to our friends and families that sponsor our children and who have helped raise the necessary support to buy these stoves!