Our Home in Guatemala

Our Home in Guatemala

Following a massive earthquake in Guatemala, we worked on a Salvation Army multinational reconstruction project.  At first I joked about the inconveniences of the makeshift accommodations, but after six months, the novelty waned. Pressures mounted to complete the project before the rainy season arrived, but the national emergency had depleted building supplies and slowed progress.

The spiritual strength that had carried me through other difficult times seemed diminished. I longed to attend worship services in my English-speaking homeland. It seemed that if I could hear hymns, and prayers, and sermons in my own language that I would be strong and patient and more loving.

One day, while leafing through my Bible, I found encouragement in an unlikely place – the prophecies of Ezekiel. The Israelites, living in Babylon, felt that they could not truly worship unless they were at the temple in Jerusalem. God, though, reminded the Israelites that the temple with its familiar rituals and language is not the sanctuary.  God told Ezekiel,“I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone,” (Ezekiel 11:16 NIV)

Many of us have been separated from friends, home church, neighborhood, family and even homeland. Furthermore, those who are older find themselves distanced from what was familiar in their young and middle years. In spite of our best efforts to adjust to necessary changes we often find ourselves thinking, “If I could just go back to my home church, or hear the worship music that is familiar to me, or hear a sermon by …I would find spiritual renewal.”  We will not find God and his strength in a past location or era. God’s love and compassion are new every morning—right where we are today.


 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  Psalm 139:9-10

Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you. Hebrews 13:5b

Martha Hawn VanCise©2014




3 thoughts on “Sanctuary

  1. Arlene

    Martha, since we retired from our traditional church we returned to our former home church. In the ten years we’ve been gone they have gone from traditional to contemporary, no Sunday Evening services and no Sunday school. What a culture shock! Even after one year and a half we are still trying to adjust!
    Singing the hymns in corporate worship is so meaningful….or was. Now every Sunday we are learning another new chorus. All the beautiful harmonious parts are gone and we sing a chorus that goes into another that seems like one long chorus.
    The hymns have theology, right relationship, honoring Jesus, His blood and decisions to live rightly. All of this is turned on its head!
    I look around our church and the older people are not engaged in worship because the music is continually changing. Then when we sing hymns the younger people are bored! This is a huge problem!
    We have older people who don’t come in until the music is over. Many sit in the back as far as possible. But there are many of us who are just trying to worship The Lord in the music as best we can.
    I believe offering a traditional service when their are two services would go a long way. Or perhaps a truly blended worship.
    If there was an evening service you could regain your hymns at that time, but now there is none. A lot of Baptist churches are still singing hymns, having evening services and even Sunday school. So now your choice is to find another church and denomination.
    Martha, I hear what you are saying and you are right. But these changes are changing all of us and I’m not convinced it’s for the better. We are struggling and praying to understand what’s happening, but we are suffering loss of our beloved gifts that helped us grow spiritually throughout our lives.
    Maybe in time my husband and I will come to a better understanding of it all, we are prayerfully trying.
    Your article is food for thought and it was written out of a tender heart. Thank you Martha.

  2. Cheri

    Our God is enough!!! He alone is sufficient!!! ONLY our Lord Jesus supplies our true needs and fills us with His peace in every circumstance!!!

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