Our Story

Rudi Pineda started a school 20 years ago in Santo Tomås Milpas Altas, Guatemala. His mission—bring impoverished children out and place them into active learning. He had no textbooks, no manual, and no mentor—just a Bible and the Spirit.

The story begins in 1993. Rudi had purchased land on an agreement with a few men that he would personally work off the debt by doing manual farm labor. The check they were given to buy the land didn’t clear and Rudi was left with the debt. The people who committed to following him and help launch the school grew worried and abandoned him for “safer” government jobs. Rudi was left alone with debt on the land, a building that needed to be built, and students ready to start classes.

Rudi

Thinking back on that trying time Rudi said, “If I didn’t believe God was behind this ministry I would have given up a long time ago, but He has promised his provision, and we will be faithful no matter how long it takes to see the promise fulfilled.”

Instead of giving up, Rudi’s faith grew stronger and his heart softer. He trusted God to do many great works. Today, God has blessed Saber y Gracia with more than 250 students and a dedicated staff of 20 teachers. There is still great work to be done, and many hands are needed to do so.

When Rudi was asked, “What has been one of the best moments you have had as an educator?”, he said, “One of my first students just graduated law school, and she is a woman.” Guatemala is a beautiful country but sadly there has been a great lack of development due to years of violence, poverty, and lack of education. Because of the oppressed behavior in Guatemala, having women graduate any level of school is a victory, let alone law school!

“It has always been on my heart to have a scholarship program for special cases such as families living in extreme poverty and families with multiple children. The last 26 years have been a financial struggle.” – Rudi Pineda

Rudi has never taken a paycheck in 26 years in his teaching career. He farms land in the evenings to earn a living. I will say that part again. He has never taken a paycheck from the school, of which he started. Wow!

Like you, I have had the good fortune of meeting many interesting unique people… some powerful, athletic, smart, rich, poor, and so on… but never have I met a man like Rudi.

Quinn Shepherd, Justin Steill, Craig Hixon and Chris Young, the founders of Wisdom and Grace Ministries, had the pleasure of meeting Rudi Pineda in September 2013.

We traveled to GUATEMALA in September, 2013 with a small group of intrepid leaders to embark on a Vision trip by World Next Door. Our mission was to see and learn firsthand what God was doing through Saber y Gracia, Rudi’s Christ-centered K-12 school that reaches students in a community wracked by poverty.

During this adventure, our team heard stories of hope from teachers, and students and their families. We enjoyed worshiping with local churches and will got a taste of the rich culture in this vibrant community.

As part of our experience, we had the opportunity to visit and pray for several families of Saber y Gracia’s students, lead simple English classes at the school, spend one night living with local families and participate in the colorful celebration of Guatemala’s Independence Day.

Our trip was not the normal mission trip of hammers, nails, and medicine. It went much deeper. How do we help these people so that they will be a community that does not have to rely on others? We will provide ways for them to grow and survive on their own. We will teach them from our own experiences, business knowledge, and help them strategize for their own future success.

We saw something special with Rudi and his teachers. That is why we created a non profit to help raise money to sponsor kids and help build a new school. Through Wisdom and Grace Ministries we will sponsor kids so they can go to school, learn and grow. We also have started a fund called "Imagine 1000" that will eventually help build a school for 1000 children. Rudi already has the prints and believes God will build the school very soon. Believe!