QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala (BP) -- Because the ancient 5,125-year Mayan calendar will end on Dec. 21, 2012, global interest in Mayans has skyrocketed in recent years.
IMB photo by Warren Johnson
Some New Age philosophers predict the beginning of a new era of enlightenment for mankind. Others say it's a countdown to the end of the world. Although many scholars dismiss these claims, tourists from around the globe are flocking to Mayan ruins in Latin America. The calendar itself has been the subject of many books, movies, news specials and college lectures.
But most Mayans aren't concerned about the ancient calendar, according to International Mission Board missionaries who work among Mayan people groups. In fact, the real Mayan story isn't about the calendar at all, they say. It's about the Mayan people.
Jeronimo, for example, is one of nearly 5 million Mayan descendants living throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. He was an alcoholic before IMB workers with Guatemala's Tajumulco Mam people group came with a message that changed his life.
Jeronimo accepted Christ as his Savior, and soon his wife and children did the same. Later he started the first evangelical church in his community. Then he began sharing Christ and planting churches in other villages. He also translated parts of the Bible and other Bible storying materials into the local language so others could hear the Gospel.
Despite success stories like Jeronimo's, many Mayans remain trapped in a spiritual darkness drawn from old traditions, said Gary Stone, IMB missionary among the Tajumulco Mam.
"The Tajumulco Mam have always been known as a fierce and warlike people," Stone said. "Villages feud between each other and land wars are never ending. The culture is broken, and there is much darkness in daily life. Incest, stealing, lying, alcoholism, multiple partners, greed and other sins keep the Mam people in darkness." Read More