To bring the word of salvation through Jesus Christ to those in impoverished and oppressed underdeveloped countries (Matthew 28:19-20). Our focus is serving the poor primarily through the education of children and their families, assisting in the construction of schools and churches, and supporting the administration of schools, orphanages, and the local economy through work-related earning opportunities (Deuteronomy 15:10-11). At present, Proyecto Fe primarily serves the poor in Guatemala by providing support in the areas of education, local job opportunities, medical needs, and basic services to serve the children, families, and people of San Pedro, La Laguna, Guatemala.
The Birth of Proyecto Fe
What is now Proyecto Fe had its beginnings back in January 1996, when Joe LoMonaco of Anchorage, Alaska went to Guatemala to visit the poorest of schools and orphanages partnered by Compassion International, and children he sponsored through Compassion. One of Compassion’s projects was a small Christian school in San Pedro La Laguna, on the western shore of Lake Atilan.
There he met Emilio and Ester Battz. Emilio was the son of a businessman (Emilio, Sr.) who was also an evangelist, and who founded many churches in the mountains west of San Pedro. Emilio and Ester saw the need for Christian education in this village and founded a school, Colegio Bethel. When Joe arrived with Sol de Lehnhoff, of Compassion’s Guatemala office, they discovered that Colegio Bethel had lost the building they were renting for the school, and was teaching in the basement of Emilio’s church. Emilio explained that the school could only remain there for approximately one year when the church would be completed. By then they would need to relocate.
Even though Emilio had no outside sponsorship, he used his personal funds to lay the foundation for a school that he felt would be large enough to meet the needs of Christian education in San Pedro La Laguna (population of 10,000 people). As he received or had a few extra dollars to spare he would buy a few blocks and lay them on the foundation. It was this foundation that he showed Joe, as he shared with him his vision. Joe questioned Emilio regarding available money, help, and the estimated cost of the construction, to which Emilio responded, “I don’t know these details for certain, but I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord will build this school!”
Joe returned to Alaska, but could not get over this man and his faith. For months, Joe prayed about what his part was to be in this work, if any. He became very frustrated, as he searched for answers, but none were forthcoming. Joe gave up more than once, but the Lord kept bringing back the memory of Emilio and Ester’s incredible faith. Finally, in August 1996, Joe was given the name of Forward Edge International, a short-term missions ministry in Washington State. With the help of Don Kassebaum of Forward Edge, Joe organized a team of men and women from Anchorage, Alaska, who went in December 1996, to help with the construction of the school. These team members also caught the vision of the work. On their return, they shared it with other people, who began contributing funds for the continuing construction effort.
In May 1997, they brought Emilio and Ester to the United States to visit supporters and share their vision with several churches in Alaska. This resulted in many groups traveling to Guatemala. Their efforts and contributions have resulted in a 3-story school building, which now serves over 400 students. The Battz home, still occupied by Ester and Emilio and their family, also serves as the administration office. It is our hope that they will soon be able to build a new home in another location and that their current home will be used for the ongoing, increasing efforts of managing the school.
The work of Proyecto Fe was never limited to just the school project. Each team that went down to Guatemala also visited some of the mountain churches begun by Emilio, Sr. and which now are overseen by Emilio. Pastors and church members from churches too far away for the teams to visit often walked for days to come and see the Christians from North America who had come to help in the work. Team members caught the vision of this need also and sought a means of helping these churches grow.
We look forward to what God is going to do in the coming years through Proyecto Fe. Everything that has been done up to now has been only through His grace and providence. We know that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6