FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The Guatemalan government honored Edgar Cajas, associate professor of church music education at Southwestern Seminary, with the Ambassador of Peace Award, Oct. 15.
“This is just a great tribute to Edgar’s dedication to and passion for training up music leaders,” Stephen Johnson, dean of the School of Church Music at Southwestern, said. Cajas said he was shocked and grateful for the award.
In 1996, Guatemala ended a 36-year civil war, and since that time, the government has granted the award to individuals and organizations who contribute to the peace and welfare of Guatemala. Cajas was nominated for the award by students of the Escuela Alfredo Colom in Guatemala City.
After receiving two master’s degrees from Southwestern Seminary, Cajas and his wife, Athena, returned to Guatemala City in 1995 and founded the Escuela Alfredo Colom, a Christian school for music teachers and the only private school in Guatemala City authorized to give music education degrees. Since most churches in the nation could not afford to pay music ministers, Cajas desired to teach people how to make a living through music while also serving as ministers of music in churches. The school is now operated by the Baptist convention in Guatemala.
In October, Cajas traveled to Guatemala to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Escuela Alfredo Colom and to teach a class on the theology of worship at the Guatemala Baptist Seminary. Although the Ambassador of Peace Award is usually presented at the Guatemala’s national palace, the government presented Cajas with his award at a recital in a local church celebrating the school’s anniversary. During the recital, one of Cajas’ former students, Pedro, led a performance by an accomplished children’s choir.
“When he came to the school, he didn’t know anything about music,” Cajas said. “But he got a vision in our school to start something for poor children.” Today, Pedro’s choir sings difficult compositions from memory, such as Handel’s “Messiah.”