Dublin Villager

Church's giving nets an SUV for Guatemalan city

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A day of generosity at Encounter Church has yielded four wheels that will help the leader of a mission center in Guatemala.

The Dublin church has been working with a center that helps poor children in the small Guatemalan town of Cruz Blanca since it started holding services at Eli Pinney Elementary School four years ago and the latest assistance has given the director a way to transport people and needed supplies.

The Rev. Sean Spoelstra was a pastor at Grace Church in Powell for 10 years before he was sent to Dublin four years ago to start a new church.

Shortly after the new church was established, an organization called Vision Trust started work in Guatemala.

"When we started the church, a friend of mine who works for Vision Trust ... started work in Guatemala," Spoelstra said. "I said, 'Why don't we work together?' "

With Vision Trust, members of the church have visited twice to do mission work and have sponsored 60 children, providing them with meals, school supplies and other help.

"My wife and I have two children we sponsor (through Vision Trust)," Spoelstra said.

"We met Alex twice and it's kind of cool to sponsor a kid and meet him."

"They get them proper nutrition, school supplies and education," Spoelstra's wife, Melissa, said of Vision Trust. "They get a better lease on life than the culture they are in."

On each visit to Guatemala, church members saw a need for Rut, the woman who runs the mission center: a car.

Her SUV was in poor shape and shortly after their last visit in 2012, the vehicle stopped working.

The church used its annual Day of Generosity to gather funds to purchase a Honda Pilot for Rut.

It was the best vehicle that could haul people and supplies while dealing with the rough roads in the area, Mr. Spoelstra said.

Committing to purchase the expensive vehicle was a risk, Sean said. But it paid off.

"We usually bring in $4,000 to $4,500 weekly," Mrs. Spoelstra said.

"This time $20,000 came in," she said. "We have about 150 people. We're a little church."

The Day of Generosity usually yields a larger collection, Sean said, because it goes to a designated project for the church.

This year's Day of Generosity yielded more than ever before, though.

"That's more than triple what last year's offering was," Mr. Spoelstra said.

"This is people believing in and doing something for someone that can't do anything for you in return ... I believe generosity is like a muscle. The more you work it out, the stronger it gets. That's the vision I want to cast for our people."

The Day of Generosity gathered enough funds to purchase a 2010 Honda Pilot, with the help of Steve Lindsay of Lindsay Honda.

Spoelstra said he was referred by a church member to the dealership owner who helped locate the vehicle, get it shipped to Dublin and fixed up for service in Guatemala.

"He didn't make any money on this purchase," he said.

Although a few church members were willing make the 2,800-mile trip, the vehicle is set to be delivered via truck to Guatemala City where Rut can pick it up this month.

"At a church service we Skyped with Rut and she just bawled when we told her," Melissa said.

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