THIRTEEN YEARS AGO in mid-October, Michael Gutierrez sat in the back of an ambulance in Dallas, Texas. It was 2 a.m. His job as a paramedic was to help save lives. But facing a difficult time in his own life, he felt he needed saving. That night, another EMT on his shift was a Rhema graduate and Guatemalan missionary. He ministered God’s Word to Michael and gave him one of Kenneth E. Hagin’s books. That encounter eventually led Michael to save lives in a different way.
Michael consumed more books by the Hagins, and in 2012 the Lord directed him and his brother, Edgar, to attend Rhema USA. Enriched and empowered by what they learned during their first year, the brothers and other Rhema students traveled to Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Peru during their summer break to preach the Gospel.
While visiting churches in Guatemala, they met Viena Guillén, a Guatemalan native and pastor’s kid. Impressed by the students’ zeal for God and the miracles she saw happening firsthand, Viena was led to enroll at Rhema USA that fall.
Michael and his brother headed back to Oklahoma to prepare for their second year at Rhema. But they couldn’t shake the pull Guatemala had on them.
“Guatemalans are some of the most humble people you will ever meet,” says Michael. “They are very receptive to the Gospel. We just need more laborers to go—into the rural areas especially—to reach out to them. But they are very humble and hungry.”
To Michael, Viena, and Edgar, it was obviously God’s will to have a Rhema campus in Guatemala. They met with Rhema USA’s dean to discuss that possibility. In the meantime, they and their friends gathered every Friday for a year to pray out the details of what the school would need to operate successfully.
GOD ANSWERS A HEART’S CRY
As graduation day crept closer, the trio knew in their hearts they were going back to Guatemala. However, they still had no final word on whether an RBTC campus would be opened in that third-world nation.
“I remember singing in the [Rhema Bible Church] choir on International Rhema Day,” shares Viena. “The big globe came down, and I saw the lights representing countries with an RBTC campus. I looked, and there was no light in Guatemala. I started crying and said, ‘Lord, I want Rhema in my country! My people need this.’ ”
Shortly after, they received a call from the dean. “The process happened really fast,” says Viena. “We heard how other Rhema campuses had been opened, and I think for us it was as if the Holy Spirit had everything ready.”
With diplomas and one-way tickets in hand, the young team left for Guatemala. Meanwhile, plans for a new Rhema campus weren’t the only thing that had developed. During their time at Rhema USA, Michael and Viena saw their friendship blossom. They married in 2016, the same year Rhema
Guatemala was established.
CULTIVATING LABORERS FOR THE HARVEST
Michael and Viena were officially named Rhema Guatemala’s national directors in 2021. The Gutierrezes admit starting the school was very challenging. They had no staff, no permanent building, and no credibility. Now they have their own facility. And thanks to the school’s 145 graduates and counting, they’ve assembled a homegrown team of staff, volunteers, and instructors—with more students in training to be instructors.
As for credibility, that’s growing. Seven years ago, most people in Guatemala City had never heard of Rhema or Kenneth Hagin. But that’s changing through word of mouth. The school has donated 4,000 copies of The Believer’s Authority and other Faith Library Publications books to Guatemalan church leaders. And most importantly, graduates are sharing what God has done in their lives.
One graduate—a pastor—applied what she learned in the school’s church pioneering course and planted a Rhema work in the city of Chimaltenango. The congregation is having a major impact locally, but also internationally thanks to social media.
“Rhema Guatemala graduates are the future. They are going to be the attractors,” says Michael. “As with any international Bible school, the goal is to produce laborers from the same culture, because the missionaries can’t do it all.”
KNOCKING DOWN RELIGIOUS WALLS
Michael and Viena are excited to have a part in training Guatemalans to break religious mindsets with the transforming power of God’s Word. They are doing that in a country rife with bad doctrine.
As students learn about faith and their authority in Christ, there has been an explosion of miracles. One student gave Kenneth E. Hagin’s Bible Healing Study Course book to her dad, a pastor. He had diseased kidneys and needed surgery. He was completely healed just by reading the book!
Many Guatemalan churches teach that healing isn’t for everyone. As a result, most students came to Rhema Guatemala not sure if God was willing to heal them. “That’s one of the greatest walls we’ve had knocked down,” says Viena. “We not only teach the Word, but we demonstrate it. And when people see that it works—when they see miracles and healings—they know it’s real.”
TRUTH TRIUMPHS OVER TRAGEDY
Michael and Viena agree that the word of faith message has transformed their own lives. The couple welcomed a daughter in 2018. But they credit Rhema’s message and the comfort of the Holy Spirit for helping them through the devastating loss of their second baby in 2021.
“Being over Rhema [Guatemala] and teaching about miracles and healing—and then that happened,” shares Viena. “The devil wanted to bring shame to our ministry, but he did the opposite. It was the Word deposited in us from Rhema that helped us have a different perspective than others who experienced a similar loss. We’re stronger than ever and more determined to preach the Gospel and teach people faith.”
Expansion plans are underway, starting with a second RBTC campus launching this year in Guatemala City’s business district. Revival is breaking out among the graduates. Rhema is changing many lives in Guatemala. And the Guiterrezes are expecting another baby in May! They are thankful for God’s faithfulness.
Viena shares, “When we started, we were young, barely graduated, and had no experience. Yet the Lord had us start Rhema Guatemala and share what we learned in two years. It feels like the Lord has us moving fast because He needs to do something in this generation. It’s humbling. If you’re willing, He doesn’t see your age or experience. He’s just looking for a willing heart to go and do the work of the Lord.”
Rhema Guatemala Student Testimony
Beverly recently graduated from her second year at Rhema Guatemala. She says, “After going through the ‘Christ the Healer’ course, I was encouraged to bring the healing truths embodied in the Bible to a man named Pablo who was diagnosed with cancer. The miracle happened through a virtual meeting. That’s right—we didn’t physically lay hands on him! The miracle occurred by declaring the powerful truths of God’s Word which Pablo believed and confessed to himself. Pablo is now cancer free—completely healed! God is good!”
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