Exhausted Guatemalan workers receive refreshment during COVID-19

By Tianna Haas | OCLA in South America

Jason Brink with security guard during COVID-19 crisis in Guatemala.

Exhausted Guatamelan workers find refreshment and the eternal hope of Jesus during the COVID-19 crisis.

Jason and Marcy Brink, sent from West Michigan, USA, have served with SIM in Guatemala for three years and have seen first-hand the extraordinary impact of the pandemic on workers.

Many have been forced out of work, while those who have kept their jobs often endure shifts that span several days, leaving them tired and disheartened.

The Brinks minister among university students, women and children who have survived abuse, church leaders and security personnel.

Ministering among security workers

Security workers are now on duty for up to 72 hours at a time. Jason and Marcy recognised the immense strain they were under and stepped in with snacks, drinks and spiritual encouragement.  

Jason said: “Security workers in general are overlooked, underappreciated and often times underpaid. Presently, we want to offer simple acts of kindness to the security workers to let them know we appreciate their hard work and long hours.”

Most of the guards come to Guatemala City, where the Brinks serve, from rural areas, to support their families from afar. The capital offers more opportunities, especially in security, because the crime rate is high.

Jason said: “The men, for the majority, are somewhat accustomed to separation from their families for months on end. However, the interdepartmental travel ban now in effect essentially prohibits any possibility of them seeing their families for the foreseeable future.”

To connect with the workers and extend Christlike care, Jason asks the security workers where they’re from, how their family is managing the crisis and how he can pray for them.

Jason said: “The men are very appreciative, and it is common for them to share struggles and personal details from their lives.”

Supporting staff at El Refugio women’s shelter  

The staff at El Refugio, a women’s shelter where Marcy is a board member and volunteer, are also drained from working long days. The travel restrictions have prevented some workers from getting to the shelter, so those who are close by have agreed to take on 48-hour shifts temporarily.

Marcy said: “The women living in the shelter continue to need supervision, resources, and security.”

Marcy counsels women at the shelter and invites them to find safety and healing in Jesus. She also guides them in jewellery making, so they can develop skills and earn a living for their families.

As economies falter, El Refugio and its workers are an essential source of protection for the vulnerable as well as an embodiment of God’s provision. Fortunately, they have also recently welcomed a new director and social worker.

Student ministry thrives online

The Brinks have also been working diligently during the pandemic. Their student ministry at the University of San Carlos has been booming, although it’s moved online to WhatsApp and Zoom.

Jason said: “In some ways I am even more busy with these activities now, because students are generally more available to meet online than they were in person.”

Their English language ministry has had a significant impression and reach on the campus, and amidst a deluge of changes, they’ve been able to keep a consistent schedule for their online English conversation clubs.

Though internet-based English meetings have required adjustments, Jason has noticed several advantages in the digital environment. He said: “Technology has allowed us to incorporate more audio and video resources that help reinforce English concepts or even clarify Bible stories.

“For example, in one of our groups we are going through the story of Joseph as it is told in Genesis. We have used a couple of simple videos and cartoons to help students better understand the story. We also have students take turns reading from the Bible passage and asking questions.”

The virtual conversations, discipleship sessions and Bible studies have upsides, but Jason and Marcy look forward to spontaneous encounters and in-person community with the university students once the pandemic has subsided.

Despite COVID-19 constraints, Jason and Marcy have supported those with prolonged shifts and endless work while intently striving in their kingdom work. Their endeavours to replenish the fatigued echo God, the ultimate comforter they serve who has “words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Support SIM’s COVID-19 efforts

SIM mission workers around the world are seeking to use their skills and gifts to safely minister during the coronavirus crisis just like Jason and Marcy. To contribute to these relief efforts, lift up our workers in prayer or make a donation to our COVID-19 Immediate Response project (select the nearest office and use project number 99753). Read more about how this project helps medical ministries overwhelmed by the pandemic.  

Pray for:

spiritual and physical vitality for the Brinks as they pour out love to multiple groups. Pray that God supplies them with abundant stamina to continue sharing the good news through discipleship, charitable acts and counselling.

more workers, particularly Guatemalan Christians, who will join the missional outreach to security workers.

all those who are working extended hours and feel weary to receive rest and revitalization from the Lord. Pray that the spread of the coronavirus comes to a halt and many find relief.