The small town of Almolonga in the western highlands of Guatemala is on the map, at least in some charismatic circles. Calling it "Miracle City," proponents have convinced journalists for several national publications that the town is more than 90 percent evangelical, alcoholism is almost nonexistent, and the resulting prosperity is a model of what God can do when revival comes.
There is no question that Almolonga is prosperous by Guatemalan standards. The vegetable fields surrounding the Quiche-speaking community provide a lush harvest that is aggressively marketed. And there is no dearth of churches. Still, a closer look shows that the claims may be exaggerated.
"A realistic figure might be close to 65 percent evangelical," says Isaias Colop, a native Quiche trained at Dallas Theological Seminary. That is impressive in a historically Catholic country. But Colop says the change is often only skin deep.
"There's sensationalism, but a lack of maturity," Colop says. "There are former witch doctors who are now 'prophets,' but they're still doing much the same thing."
Guatemalan theologian Emilio Antonio Nunez says, "There's no doubt the gospel has transformed lives here." But other towns in Guatemala have been as significantly impacted by the gospel, but without the hype.1