“How I Solved the Catholic Problem” — Confessions of a Protestant missionary to Guatemala

Guatemala is at a turning point. Historically it’s been a 100% Catholic country — but that’s changing — rapidly. Demographers predict that early in this century Guatemala will become the first mostly-Protestant Latin American country. This story shows a different side of that trend: How two Evangelical Protestant missionaries went there to convert Catholics and discovered something amazing and life-changing.

By Kristine L. Franklin
The jet made a careful descent between the three volcanoes that ring the sprawl of Guatemala City. It was April 19th, 1992. My husband, Marty, and I had reached the end of eight years of preparation to be Evangelical Protestant missionaries.

We were finally here, excited and eager to settle in Guatemala. We knew our faith would be challenged and stretched, but we were more than ready for it because above all else, we desired to serve God with everything we could offer. Our new life as missionaries had just begun.

I didn’t feel even a twinge of regret over what we’d left behind in the States: family, friends, a familiar language and culture, and amenities like clean water and good roads we Americans so often take for granted. In spite of the unknowns ahead, I knew we were being obedient, regardless of the cost. We were living smack in the middle of God’s will, and it gave us a great feeling of security. We had given ourselves fully to bringing Christ’s light to the darkness of this impoverished, Catholic country.

As the jet touched down onto the bumpy runway, tears welled in my eyes. “Thank you, Jesus,” I whispered as I reached over to squeeze my husband’s hand. Marty and I had come to the end of a long journey, but we were also beginning a new one. “Some day, Lord,” I prayed silently, “I hope this foreign place will feel like home.”

I was elated as we walked down the exit ramp from the plane and began the long-awaited adventure of being Protestant missionaries – missionaries sent to “rescue” Catholics from the darkness of their religion’s superstition and man-made traditions and bring them into the light of Protestantism.

There’s no way I could have known that three years later, almost to the day, my husband and my two children and I would stand holding hands again, elated again, waiting to be received into the Catholic Church. Let me explain what happened that led me, a staunch Evangelical, to become Catholic. . . . (continue reading)


  1. Elizabeth

    Wow, thank you for sharing this! I had no idea this was happening in Guatemala! It's great to read this from her perspective!

  2. Alejandro L.

    Great article! I still feel very worried about the situation of Catholicism in Latin America though. If the trend continues Catholicism will no longer be a majority religion in many countries. In my home country of Puerto Rico the situation is quite dire. From a solid Catholic majority forty or fifty years ago, today some estimates say that about %50 of Puerto Ricans are Protestant. They also tend to be more active and vocal while Catholics practice less. The frenzy for Ecumenism and "openness" in the Church has been fatal for Latin American Catholicism. We are attacked constantly as idolaters and have even had the name "Christian" taken from us. We need a miracle. -Alex

  3. Charlie

    This was an interesting read, definitely. In practice, however, I wonder how similar Hispanic Catholicism really is to the clean, theologically manicured version we're familiar with in the United States.Culturally, superstition is a major part of Catholic practice in the developing world. The Church has historically allowed the laity to "do their own thing" in regard to questionable piety, tacitly allowing practices that neoconservative American Catholics and the new wave of Protestant converts would shy away from in embarrassment. Syncretism and folk piety will always be with us. An article you may find interesting: http://arturovasquez.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/on-the-margins-of-theology-v/#more-4951

  4. Therese


  5. Carl

    This seems familiar. Was this story presented in "Surprised by Joy"?

  6. Julia

    Do Evangelicals take on missions to Lutheran and Episcopalian majority countries? If they think that Lutherans and Episcopalians aren't really Christians, why don't they treat them as mission countries?

  7. Terry Fenwick

    The thrill of this story is that I read it and loved it – not knowing the author. Kristine Franklin. I may have read it in one of your books? Not certain. I sent the material to a friend, Tami Pallidino, who later was my sponsor when we came into Full Communion in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. She told me that she had met Kristine Franklin on Keating's Catholic site and Tami had asked Kristine to pray for us to come into the Church. She did and we did! Imagine how much I love Kristine Franklin!

  8. JP

    You know…almost 30 years ago, a friend of mine invited me to join her as she became a missionary to Guatemala. I think she was trying to convert me (a Catholic) too! She eventually married a Guatemalan fellow and is still down there, presumably converting Catholics.And although I personally managed to resist 'conversion', I never even gave a thought for many years as to just what my friend was doing.I am ashamed.

  9. Erika

    I really enjoy reading about stories like this. 🙂

  10. CrownLeaf

    Heard this before – with myself. I, too, was a former, Bible-thumpin', turn-and-burn, can-you-give-me-an-Amen, Evangelical Fundamentalist. Now I'm a Bible-thumpin', turn-and-burn, can-you-give-me-an-Amen, CATHOLIC Fundamentalist. Ha, ha – just kidding. The only Catholic I knew growing up as a young boy in the Piney Woods of East Texas was a cute Catholic girl at the public swimming pool. I thought, "What a shame. So pretty, yet so damned." No joke – I thought this. When in 2004 at the age of 39 (I had spent months reading the Catechism, early Church Fathers, etc.), I announced that I was converting to Catholicism (and folks, the Catholic Church prior to this time of searching was absolutely the LAST thing on my radar screen – since, of course, most if not all Catholics were going to Hell) my father made a special 4-hour trip by car to my place of residence to try and "save me". I could tell you story and story. Anyway, as Catholics we have the Magisterium (unity) and the EUCHARIST! (again, unity – One Body, One Blood). Remember Peter telling Christ, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Well, I told my father, "Dad, where else do you want me to go? The Catholic Church has the Eucharist – JESUS! In real time!". Blank stare. I am the black sheep in the family now – probably because the fires of hell are lapping at my feet with my conversion to the whore of Babylon (yes, I believed that nonsense about the Catholic Church at one time, too). I still read my Bible daily (one good habit from Evangelicalism), but now I get to the see and worship the Word up close and personal at my parish's 24/7 Adoration Chapel with the Blessed Sacrament. And of course I receive HIM at Mass on Sundays. Yep, good to be Catholic. Thanks be to God.

  11. William a sinner. Most unlearned. The Least of all the faithful…

    False Modernistic Quasi Christianity will lead people farther and farther away from the True God of the Universe!!! Catholics must start to speak and tell the truth of Catholicism where the Fullness of Christianity is only found. Only in the Catholic Church does almighty God dwell with man, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity till the end of the age…

  12. Oscar

    Wow- Great article. I can relate to this for I'm from "El Salvador", and I too have seen many missionaries trying to convert Catholics. Some of my family members sadly have left the Catholic church. Again, thanks.

  13. mach10pilot

    A very good read. I have forwarded to many. Now I need to forwarded it to my protestant brothers and sisters and evangelize the one, holy, catholic, and apolostolic church. As Steve Ray once said, when Jesus died, he didn't give us a Bible, he gave us a Church.I'm currently sponsoring someone in RCIA who was an Evangelical and its basically the same all around. Once someone starts reading the Apostolic Father's writings – its game over and its time to come home.Welcome home everyone! Jesus loves you and so do I! Pray for the conversions of many within and without – Amen!

  14. JVIERE

    Kudos to Protestants getting around to missionary works. While the percentages may be turning from Catholic to Protestant, it's crucial to point out what some of the shorted-sighted factors are for this; its the end of 2010. Look at what has recently happened within the Catholic Church-lots of scandals are showing up. If these are to be viewed as one of those deciding factors in these impoverished countries, there really is a greater issue at hand: the Catholics that believe that the Church as an institution is afflicting them pain, they may as well be Protestant. There's clearly a definition that the Church as a Body is headed by the Magisterium, and if the teaching authority is to be blamed, that does not include the missionary part of the Body (the hand or the arm.) I think that misusing missionary work that is needed in countries like Guatemala is a poor example of why Catholics are converting to Protestantism.

  15. Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    You know I hate pointing this out because people hate having to deal with it specially if they have their minds made up about it. However it would be irresponsible for us to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room, that being a well known event that happened oddly enough 40 to 50 years ago right around the time when the tide began to turn for all Catholic countries, I am of course speaking of the Vatican II. Once again this will make people angry, they will deny it up and down, and of course there will the usual words being thrown out there of "hijacked" or "implementation" or "real intention" or "abuses." In my personal opinion either the documents of the council need to be revised and rewritten to erase ambiguities or large of it must be suppressed. Because this is one cancer that is killing the Church from the inside at an alarming rate.

  16. Jackie

    I like reading these catholic conversion stories too. That was very good to hear. Thank you Mr. Madrid for being catholic in leading the way . I am just another catholic with a blog myself no big whoop lol formally known as 'The Way of the upright' I am inviting all catholics to join inCatholicism 101 .Thank you God Bless

  17. Er

    Thank you for sharing brother Patrick…God bless

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: