Xela Team History

InnerCHANGE started in Xela, Guatemala with a 40-day exploration in the summer of 2005. During this time, God revealed to us what he was doing among the poor and marginalized in Xela.  As a result, German & Karla Avila and Julio & Melanie Avila now minister among the city’s shoeshine boys and incarcerated women.  In each of these areas of ministry, InnerCHANGE walks alongside local leaders & volunteers offering spiritual, emotional and hands-on ministry support.

Shoeshine Boys
InnerCHANGE is responding to the plight of street children in Xela.  It starts with forming friendships on the streets where they work, hang out and live.  As we listen to their stories, trust is built and eventually they are able to begin to receive love; God's love and our love.  We also visit a dormitory, run by an elderly Guatemalan couple, where some of the kids sleep after a long day on the streets.  A group of kids have left the streets and are now studying - five are pursuing their high school diplomas and two are in a carpentry trade school.

Immigrant Youth
With the blessing of their families many young children and youth leave Guatemala to pursue a “better life” in the United States. Along the way, many of them are caught by police officials and sent to deportation centers to await their parent’s arrival. One of these centers is in the heart of Xela. Kids arrive by the busload disillusioned and scared. In the past, InnerCHANGE has visited this center several times a week to encourage, to listen to, and to share a biblical reflection with these youth. Currently, this ministry is "on hold" until our team grows.

Women's Jail
Additionally, InnerCHANGE and a group of local volunteers lead worship and a bible study weekly inside the womens jail. The women come to praise the Lord, and to learn more about his word. Afterwards, there is time to share and pray with one another. The team also accompanies women to their court hearings, offering them companionship and counsel.

2011 Guatemala Apprenticeship - 3 Year


19 September, 2011 - 19 September, 2014

Application Due Date: 
15 June, 2011

The InnerCHANGE team in Xela is starting a carpentry project, “Tallando Vidas” in 2011. Youth we work with on the streets will learn the basics in carpentry in a three year time period as apprentices.

The project also includes intense mentoring which includes teaching life skills, spiritual discipleship, financial coaching, etc. In 2012 we hope to launch a business alongside the workshop where the youth will be able to produce and sell furniture.


The Call to Love - Guatemala

The call to love looks different in different places. Xela, Guatemala is a city rich with history, beauty, education, and all the trimmings of a modern society. But there is an underbelly to Xela—a population of kids who live on the streets and get by shining shoes, washing cars, or working as assistants on the microbuses.

Mi Cajita de Dulces

(My Candy Box)
by Melanie Avila, Guatemala

I’ll sell you a lollipop for un quetzal –
my stomach is growling, a cup of atol*
would curb my hunger

Or perhaps a cookie for Q2.50 –
tonight I need to prepare supper for myself
and my 2 brothers

I also sell gum –
I save every quetzal to pay the rent for my room (Q400/mo = $50 USD)

Here’s a cigarette if you like –
I need to buy a new cajita de dulces;
the police took my brother’s and he has nothing to sell…it’s been a month

"God Cries For Us"

“Dios llora por nosotros (God cries for us)" was the phrase Jose used as he shared his testimony with the rest of the street youth. Jose is 38 years old and started working and living on the streets at age 9. He now sleeps in the dormitory at night and washes cars to earn a living. He goes to church on a regular basis and attends night school, working on his high school education. But Jose’s life was not always so clean...