Guatemala is the northernmost country in Central America. Its 42,000 square miles are made up of high mountains, volcanoes, jungles, coastal plains and tropical forests. Guatemala has a population of 15.5 million people; 59% are of European and mixed Amerindian-Spanish heritage and 41% are from the twenty-three different indigenous people groups that inhabit rural Guatemala. These groups each have their own languages, and some have as many as ten different dialects. This diversity has led to cultural, social and economic isolation resulting in a high level of poverty and illiteracy within the indigenous populations.
The indigenous people suffered greatly during the 36 years of civil war that ended in 1996. Many children lost parents, witnessed atrocities and grew up in an atmosphere of fear and apprehension. The country's internal conflict drained its resources to the point that rural medical services and educational facilities are inadequate or nonexistent.
Impact Ministries is working in and around the municipality of Tactic (pronounced 'tahk-teek' with the emphasis on the second syllable), and is focused on bringing help, and the hope of Jesus Christ, to the Q'eqchí and Poqomchí people groups of Guatemala. In the rural areas around Tactic, more than 80 percent of the adults are illiterate, leaving them isolated and disenfranchised.
The people of Tactic are very poor. The average man earns a wage of 40 Quetzals (approximately $5.00) for an 8-hour day of heavy farm labour, dairy work, or cutting and selling firewood. Many families have 5 to 7 children, 40% of them living in a home with only one parent. Many parents don’t understand the value of education and prefer to put their children to work, to help earn money to sustain the family. Often these children have never held a pencil or crayon in their hand.
Guatemala has seen a revival that has brought more than 35% of the people into evangelical Christianity. Tactic, on the other hand, has been dominated by local religions that combine Mayan traditions, witchcraft and some Roman Catholic traditions. This has resulted in an oppressive religious spirit that keeps the people in fear, bondage and ignorance. Impact Ministries is committed to loving, serving and discipling the people of Tactic.