Richard & Janet Conti

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Account 2243780

richardjconti@outlook.com Phone: N/A


Guatemala City has a population of 2 1/2 million people and has been plagued by a rising tide of drug addiction, alcoholism, street-gang violence and organized crime. Richard and Janet received their missionary appointment from the Division of Foreign Missions of the Assemblies of God in 1994. Richard is from New York and has been in Guatemala since 1980. From 1980 to 1984, as a MAPS worker, he taught missionarys' children, pastored a church, taught in several Bible schools and co-founded a ministry to university students. In 1985, with Don Wilkerson's help, Richard co-founded Desafio Juvenil (Teen Challenge) in Guatemala City and has served as Executive Director since that time. They have 4 full-time staff, 3 of whom are graduates of Desafio Juvenil and about 15 men in the program. The director, Alberto Bámaca, graduated the program about 14 years ago. Many lives are being changed and transformed by the power and love of God! Desafio Juvenil also works with local churches in street-evangelism. They have several evangelistic films they show all over the country. Many are accepting the Lord through this ministry and are being discipled and channeled into local churches. Richard is also co-founder and Executive Director of El Rancho de Dios (God's Ranch) formerly called El Rancho de los Niños (The Children's Ranch), founded in 1987 in San Andrés Sajcabajá, a mountain village 4 hours away from Guatemala City. The population is primarily made up of Mayan Indians. Less than 1% are Christians. The rest believe in a mixture of Roman Catholicism and Mayan paganism. Witchdoctors are very common here. This area has been an enemy stronghold for hundreds of years. The violent conflict between communist guerrillas and the army in recent years has left many poverty-stricken widows and orphans. The need here is great. In San Andrés Sajcabajá, they founded a home for Indian widows and children and started a church. Since October, 1998, a young Assemblies of God minister has been pastoring the church. The vision is to establish a strong church and school and serve as a missions base for teams from Guatemala City and other countries so that the surrounding Indian villages, that can only be reached by foot or horseback, can be evangelized. Janet is from Guatemala. She was supervisor of El Rancho de los Niños from 1987 to 1988 and then served as secretary at Desafio Juvenil. She is now assisting her husband in both ministries. Timothy is 10 years old and will be going into the fifth grade in August,2002. ****************************** The following is a personal update upon returning to Guatemala after our one-year furlough in the U.S.: Greetings from Guatemala! Janet and Timothy flew to Guatemala on August 11, 2001. Janet had to do a lot of unpacking and housecleaning. She was also without transportation for over 3 weeks. It was not easy but God's grace is sufficient. About 2 weeks after Janet and Timothy left, I drove to Guatemala with one of Janet's brothers. We arrived safely in Guatemala but it was a trip not without some difficulties. We had to wait about 5 or 6 hours bearing temperatures up to 107 degrees to get through Mexican Customs. The last night we stayed in Mexico, we stopped at a gas station diner to get something to eat. We spoke with 2 Salvadoran tractor trailer drivers we had met at the border. Then 2 police cars parked on either side of our Blazer. They walked around the car and looked at it. They probably wanted to hassle us. The truck drivers told us not to drive away because the police would follow us. About 4 Mexican police entered the diner and sat down. Just then a busload of teenagers from a Karate school in Mexico pulled into the diner. Taking advantage of the distraction, the truck drivers told me to park the Blazer between their trucks. My brother-in-law slept in the cabin with one of the truck drivers. I sat behind the wheel of the Blazer. It was very hot even at night. At midnight, one of the police cars shone its headlights in my direction. Then a man came sneaking around to look at the car. I was wide awake. As he peered around a cement column, his eyes met mine and he was startled. He left. We left at 3:00 in the morning and drove between the 2 trailers. We arrived at the Guatemalan border (with temperatures close to 100 degrees)after driving for 8 days. The Government in Guatemala had just made some drastic increases on import duties for vehicles. Thousands of cars were stranded because the people could not afford the increase, which was from 60% to 100% more, depending on the year of the car. After going through a customs agent, I paid about $3,000 in import duties and about $300 to the agent. I paid $4,500 for the car in New York. When we thought everything was OK there was a changing of the guard in Customs. They decided I had to pay over $500 more which I didn't have. When I asked for the money back I had paid they said it could not be returned. I was between a rock and a hard place. After several hours of speaking with the Customs officials, they said there was no solution. They would not accept a credit card. Finally, my brother-in-law offered to loan me the cash and we left there after dark. We made it to Guatemala City the following morning. It has not been easy to get back in the groove. We still have a lot of unpacking and re-arranging to do. Here they say, "con la ayuda de Dios" ("with God's help"). God bless. Rich Conti ****************************** MINISTRY NEED: About $10,000 more are needed to complete the construction of the third floor of the Teen Challenge Center. If you would like to help, you can send your offering to the MAPS Office at DFM and designate the offering for Project #7506. If you would like to bring a MAPS team for construction, evangelism, medical/dental clinics, etc., that would also be a great blessing!

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