By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
HENDERSONVILLE — The Tennessee Baptist Convention’s partnership with the Guatemala Baptist Convention is off to a strong start. And Garry Eudy, the ministry’s field coordinator, believes it will only get stronger in the years ahead.
“We can’t see this partnership ending in the foreseeable future because of the way it is growing,” Eudy said while taking a short break from the booth he was manning during The Summit at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, in mid-November. “We are very grateful for all those who have gone, and we’re looking for more Tennessee Baptists to go.”
During the partnership, Tennessee Baptists have been sending volunteers to Guatemala to serve in a variety of ministry roles. Kim Margrave, volunteer missions specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, noted that the list of roles has included “leadership training, pastors conferences, ladies conferences, teaching at the seminary, medical, Bible clubs in local schools, food box distribution, sport clinics and construction projects in homes, churches and schools.”
Also, this past summer, a group of students from Tennessee spent roughly a month in Guatemala, working as interns.
And the most important element of all these services? “Every activity includes evangelism,” said Margrave.
The work being done by the Tennessee Baptists has enabled Eudy and his teams to develop numerous key relationships with influential individuals in Guatemala.
“Because of how it is going, it has gained the attention of the highest levels of government, all the way to the president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales and his wife (Hilda Patricia Morales),” Eudy said. “They learned of some of the things that Tennessee Baptists and other Baptists are doing in these communities, and they’ve ask us to do more.”
Eudy said he has been excited to see Patricia Morales open many doors for the Tennessee Baptists.
“The office of the First Lady has given us a list of 10 places that they’d like for us to do special projects in the public schools in Guatemala,” said Eudy. “This year, in 2017, we’ve been able to start and/or complete three of those projects.”
Eudy has had a heart for missions in Central America for much of his adult life.
“I pastored out of seminary as a young man, and then God called my wife, Kathy, and I into missions with the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board),” he said.
“We were assigned to the country of Panama and we served there for 10 years. Then we went to Guatemala to serve as the associate area director for seven countries.”
After nearly 20 years in that role, Eudy returned to the States in the late 1990s, and served as a pastor for roughly 15 years until his retirement in 2011. Then the Lord opened a new chapter in his life.
“What I felt led to do was to combine the two major ministries of my life — pastoring in the states and being a missionary in Central America,” he said. “I felt like I could help pastors here, stateside, connect to, and partner with, pastors in Guatemala, Panama and Coasta Rica, and perhaps some other countries.
“We started in Guatemala, which was the first place that I took some pastors and their churches to,” he said. “That was so productive, and we had so many more requests for teams to come, that we just stayed in Guatemala. And that’s where we’ve been since 2011.”
Eudy’s ministry began with four U.S. churches partnering with four Guatemalan churches. That number has now swelled to 32 churches, thanks in a large part to Tennessee Baptists, he said. “Of those 32 churches, 22 are Tennessee Baptist churches,” said Eudy, noting the other 10 churches were from Alabama and Georgia. “So, the vast majority are from Tennessee and are connected to the partnership.”
Eudy said the partnership has been effective and impactful.
“Volunteer missions is going great guns,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of good evangelism being done with great responsiveness from the Guatemalan people. We’re seeing church leadership trained and seeing people saved.”
Margrave, the TBMB volunteer missions specialist, said she is excited to see the continued support being given to the partnership.
“Our churches have responded with great enthusiasm and love for the people of Guatemala,” she said. “(We) are thrilled with how God is using this partnership.”