The Center for Transforming Mission – CTM – Guatemala has its roots in an initiative called “The Philadelphia Youth Ministry Project,” that was developed in 1996 and continued until 2000. In 2003, Joel Van Dyke was invited to move from Philadelphia to Guatemala by “Youth Leadership” to lead a youth training initiative. This training was a translation and adaptation of the “Street Psalms” material, which was used in Philadelphia.

There were two key events that gave life to what is known today as CTM Guatemala: the first occurred in 2004 when Joel decided to travel by land after a consultation in Costa Rica. This return trip allowed him to visit each Central American capital and speak with urban leaders and see their cities through their eyes. This planted the seed to form “Strategy of Transformation” in all of Central American and the Caribbean.

The other event was the “Street Psalms Consultation on Gang Members” in 2005. For this event, necessitated by the growth of violence in the streets of Guatemala City and other regional capitals, Joel and the CTM network decided to develop a consultation about gang members in order to discuss with the gangs, survivors of violence, and all the leaders interested in the theme. Seventy-five leaders from seven countries attended this event.

Following the consultation, the Director of the Penitentiary System invited us to create a chaplaincy initiative with gang members in prison and offered to provide the facilities to advance the project. This grew into monthly training cohorts with gang chaplains and other leaders based in Guatemala City, during which we walked through the Street Psalms intensives. These trainings converted into the leadership base that CTM Guatemala serves.

For several years, we functioned as Strategy of Transformation (a name that still is used by the extended network in Central American and the Caribbean), until 2013 when we were incorporated in Guatemala as The Association Center for Transforming Mission. In February of the next year, Teddy Torres was named the new Executive Director.

During the beginning of 2014, Joel and Teddy passed through a leadership transition process, envisioning the next steps that CTM Guatemala should take. Today, Joel serves in helping to develop the association board and carries out specific work as a Christian Reformed World Mission missionary in alliance with CTM: he provides coaching, consulting, and encouragement for the work that other Guatemalans are doing to lead CTM in the next years. Teddy, together with a gifted work team, has been developing new strategies for sustainability, creating internal policies that focus on daily work, opening opportunities for new incarnational initiatives, and seeking other partnerships to continue contributing to the social and spiritual renewal of Guatemala.

More recently, the work that the team is being focused in consists in building CTM´s capacity towards a vibrant and sustainable organization that connects local leaders through setting tables up for a diversity of Guatemalan leaders. By these connections, meetings after meetings, and dreaming together, these local leaders are finding a way to trust one another and are envisioning opportunities for collaboration. In the meantime, the relationships that have been built over the years are beginning to help us focus on particular communities to walk alongside the local leaders in order to listen and to learn how to find what already exists. This way we can serve nurture new, and most important, “local” initiatives, into the empowerment of these leaders who are desperate to find ways of urban transformation.

Do you want to know more of this story? You are already part of it! Because we see people and organization working together for cities whose wounds are converted into joy and hope