The mission of Faith In Practice is to improve the physical, spiritual, and economic conditions of the poor in Guatemala through short-term surgical, medical and dental mission trips and health-related educational programs. Our mission is based on an ecumenical understanding that as people of God we are called to demonstrate the love and compassion that is an outward sign of God's presence among us. Faith In Practice's life-changing medical mission is to minister to the poor, while providing a spiritually enriching experience for our volunteers.
Faith In Practice was born out of a response to God's calling to serve the poor.
In 1991, Rev. Todd Collier was traveling in Guatemala and identified significant needs at the Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, a 500 year old Franciscan hospital and home for incapacitated and abandoned children and adults located in Antigua, Guatemala. The Franciscan friars who ran the facility had few resources to help their residents or the injured and sick of Guatemala who came daily for help. Friar Guillermo Bonilla, Director, asked Todd to please return with help. In response to God's calling and to Jesus' admonition in Matthew 25 to minister to the least of these, Todd returned to Houston and organized the first surgical team to Antigua in 1993. Joe and Vera Wiatt and others assisted Todd in this effort. Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church and Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX, provided early support. When Padre José Contran became Director of Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro in 1994, he welcomed the partnership with Faith In Practice and continues to inspire volunteers.
Faith In Practice was incorporated as a non-profit in 1994 and sent two volunteer teams to the Obras that year. Rev. Todd Collier served as the first Executive Director and was instrumental in developing teams from the churches in which he served. Vera Wiatt served as Executive Director from 1997 - 2007. She was followed by President and Chief Executive Officer Rev. Linda McCarty. Under Vera's leadership, the surgery program was expanded to accommodate the growing number of Faith In Practice surgical teams and to encourage cooperative efforts among volunteer surgical teams from throughout the US and around the world. The Faith In Practice guesthouse, Casa de Fe, opened in 2003 and currently provides approximately 23,500 bed nights and more than48,500 meals annually for patients and family members. The Casa is a safe haven for patients and family as they await and recover from surgery in Antigua. In 2005, Faith In Practice constructed five state of the art operating rooms , making Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro the premier center for surgery in Guatemala and enabling multinational teams to provide 6,000 surgeries a year. Four smaller rural hospitals in Guatemala were also developed with Faith In Practice support.
Over the years, Faith In Practice has expanded to provide continuity of medical care to the poorest of Guatemala. Joe Wiatt served as Program Director from 1997 - 2010, providing leadership in logistics, construction projects and volunteer safety, always focusing on the established Spiritual Values of Faith In Practice. He developed the Village Program in which teams from across the US travel to the most remote and poorest parts of Guatemala, setting up temporary medical and dental clinics in rural villages.
Vera and Joe established strong relationships with the Board of Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, corporate executives, US donors and the patients served which laid the foundation for cross-cultural understanding and mutual growth. They both continue to serve on the Faith In Practice Board of Directors.
Faith In Practice public health initiatives include the development of the VIA/Cryo Cervical Cancer Screening Program designed to train Guatemalans to identify and treat pre-cancerous cervical cells. Faith In Practice has also developed and implemented a Preventative and Restorative Dental Program, a Hearing Program and a Pediatric Orthopedic Program. Combined with the surgical/medical/dental programs, 35 teams involving over 1,100 US and nearly 700 Guatemalan dedicated volunteers serve more than 22,300 patients annually.
The years have witnessed great changes in Faith In Practice, both in size and scope of outreach. The devotion to the cause of providing care to those in need has been unwavering. Two things never change: Faith In Practice's commitment to listen for God's calling in all things and the belief that through God people can make a difference.
Faith In Practice is governed by the Board of Directors, Corporate Officers and Rev. Linda McCarty, President and Chief Executive Officer. Rev. McCarty has served as President and Chief Executive Officer since 2007 and has provided a bridge from the founding stages of the organization to the current operation with its focus on multi-disciplinary, integrated health care for the poor of Guatemala.