The United States wasn’t the only country to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this week. Just days after Trump administration officials and American pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee attended the historic—and contentious—opening in the holy city, Guatemala did the same.
“We have had an excellent relationship with the people of Israel since the foundation of the State of Israel,” President Jimmy Morales told CBN on Wednesday.
His Central American country, now the most heavily evangelical nation in Latin America, was an early supporter of Israel’s independence in 1948 and the first to establish an embassy in Jerusalem in the late 1950s. (It was later 1 of 13 nations that withdrew their embassies from the disputed city due to a 1980 United Nations resolution.)
“We’ve had excellent relations, and we have to strengthen that relationship,” he said. “And I believe we’ll be receiving a blessing for both peoples by doing the right thing.”
Citing prayer and prophesy as their motivation, Morales and Vice President Jafeth Cabrera officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year and pledged to return Guatemala’s embassy there.
“People in Guatemala pray for the peace in this region, pray for Jerusalem, and they are excited,” said Sarah Angelina Solis, Guatemala’s ambassador to Israel, in an interview with CBN. “I feel this is a gift from God. I know that a lot of blessings will come after this decision. This is a promise in the Bible, in Genesis, and I don’t think, I’m sure many blessings will come for Guatemala.”
Its pale blue and white flag once again alongside Israel’s in the Jewish state’s largest city—a symbol, and some say a harbinger, of broader Zionist sentiments swelling in Latin America.
As once Catholic-dominated nations in Central and South America see the rise of evangélicos, particularly from Pentecostal and charismatic traditions, they’ve also grown more supportive of Israel as a political state and a holy land, keen to the Lord’s words to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3 NIV).
Guatemala and Honduras—which have undergone the most dramatic declines in Catholic identity (down nearly 50 percent in 45 years, according to the Pew Research Center)—were among just a handful of countries to side with the US when the UN voted to condemn its decision to recognize Jerusalem again.
In a speech at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, Morales, an evangelical entertainer with a Baptist seminary degree, thanked President Donald Trump and said his “courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right.”
Guatemala’s third evangelical president, Morales has prioritized Israel since his election in 2015, making the country his first official visit outside of the Americas.
Due to his decision to officially recognize Jerusalem, Morales was given an award by prominent Christian Zionist Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem, and visited by dozens of leaders involved with the Latino Coalition for Israel.
“It is our desire to see other Latin American nations follow the bold decision and leadership of President Trump and President Morales,” said Lourdes Aguirre, director of the coalition, which met in Guatemala in January.
Pro-Israel evangelical leaders from the US joined the event, including Trump faith advisers such as Michele Bachmann and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
“In the face of strong international opposition and even some resistance within the US State Department, Guatemala has remained a true friend of Israel by publicly proclaiming the biblical and historical fact that Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal capital of Israel,” Perkins said in a statement, going on to praise Morales’s pro-life and pro-family policies.
Israeli politician Michael Oren, former ambassador to the US, predicts that more of Guatemala’s neighboring countries will be following Morales’s lead, telling CBN News that “some Latin American countries” have also indicated interest in moving their embassies to Jerusalem. Commentators speculate the nations might also be trying to curry favor with the US.
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Source: Christianity Today