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Edgar, Artisan of Hand-Carved Nativities and More

His shop is in the Artisan Plaza, a popular destination for both locals and tourists in Antigua, Guatemala. Edgar is known throughout the región for his beautifully detailed, hand-carved and painted ítems.

“A priest came into my store one day looking for a Christ with traditional Guatemalan clothing. There was nothing like that to be found—and so I offered to make one for him. That led to designing nativities and angels, also adored with traditional clothing.”

Edgar’s childhood dream wasn’t that of being an artisan. Rather, he studied to become engineer. But a series of difficult life events—and a newfound faith in Jesus—moved Edgar to consider painting as more than a hobby. He now provides job opportunities for men in the área, working with them as they carve and paint the unique ítems his shop has become known for—and the custom designs now offered by Orphan Outreach Marketplace.

“It takes a day or more of focused carving to create the nativities we make for Orphan Outreach Marketplace. And then it takes more days for me to hand-paint each one. A nativity takes three days to complete.”

Edgar’s desire to provide support and care for men reaches beyond his vocation. It has become his ministry.

“God’s Word had a big impact on my life, and when my priest asked what I might want to do to serve others, I told him, ‘I want to care for men in our prison system. I have done things in my past that should have put me in jail—I know how difficult it can be for those men.’”

Edgar now has a regular ministry at one of the worst prisons in Guatemala, located in a coastal town. Known as “Tiny Hell” because of the horrific conditions, there are many who would rather see all of the prisoners dead. “But what I see is that it can happen to anyone, because in there I have seen friends and people I used to know—people who have had very painful experiences and that could have happened to me. If God has spared me, then I have to help those who are in that situation.”

Often called “lawyer” by the men he serves, Edgar offers wise counsel and Biblical wisdom. His commitment to learning about each case and advocating for the men so inspired his priest that an organization was formed to provide Edgar the assistance he needed. Prison Fellowship of Guatemala now offers opportunity for Catholic and Protestant churches to work together. And Edgar is still setting the example of servant leadership.

His hope for the men he works with is for them to embrace the love of God. “Jesus said we can fulfill the law in two commandments: to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I talk to them about who our neighbor is, and how to love well. If their hearts can change while they are still in prison, things will be different once they are released. I know it is not easy for them. My dream for them is to have a project where they can work after they get out. I would like to have a farm so they can work the land.”

When asked what he would want people in the United States to know about the items they purchase for their homes, Edgar says, “I would tell them to keep in mind that these are handmade pieces. To appreciate all the work behind them, because in many cases entire families are involved, beginning with the selection of the wood to the carving and painting—until the item comes to their hands. Many people’s livelihood depends on these nativities. This is a very personal piece you are buying because not many hands have been involved. You are not buying from a third party but directly from the artisans who have created it. What you hold is very personal and unique. No two are the same.”

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