In 1982 we were new missionaries in Guatemala. I had a pastor friend, Luis, with whom I would go out visiting once or twice a week. We went to a section of the city called Zone 5 in a neighborhood called La Chácara and realized there was not one evangelical church in the whole community. We stopped at a corner and said to each other, “This would be a perfect location to gather people.” However, there was nothing available; still, we stood out in front of an ice cream shop and lifted up this prayer: “God, if you want us here would you open a way for us?”
We prayed for months every time we met and also individually. We had a burden for that community. About three or four months later Luis called me and asked me to come over. When I showed up he told me, “A guy just called me and told me that he had attended a Friends Church as a child but wandered away from God as an adult. He just recommitted his life to the Lord and said he wanted to give us a building to thank the Friends for first pointing him to Jesus.”
“Do you know him?” I asked. “No clue who he is,” Luis responded, “but he gave me this address.” So we jumped in my van and drove over to the area—it was in La Chácara! As we drew closer to the street address we realized that we were nearing the intersection where we had prayed. The building had formerly housed the ice cream shop!!!
We stood in front of the building with our mouths agape when Antonio pulled up. “Do you want it?” he asked. “Absolutely!” we told him. “Well, something else came up after I spoke with Luis yesterday. This building next door is mine too and the tenant called and said he was moving out, so if you want you can have this one too.” (WHAT????????).
A month later we began planting Zone 5 Friends Church (by using Bible Dialogues…but that’s another story :-D). God taught me a huge lesson that day: all significant works birth from prayer. Every time we considered planting somewhere the first step was to prayer walk the community; walking and praying grew from there—and we continue to believe in its value today.