GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemalan voters have chosen a comedian with studies in theology as their new president.
Jimmy Morales was initially considered an outsider but surprised the nation by leading the first round of elections, easily qualifying for the runoff.
Morales ran on a platform of conservative values, opposing gay marriage, abortion, and the legalization of marijuana.
"According to my belief, my ideology, I would have to veto such laws," the president-elect told CBN News. "I think in Guatemala we will not have this because of conservative thinking. In case Congress approves such laws, my position would be against them."
Morales presented himself as a champion against corruption, with the slogan "neither corrupt nor a thief."
The election followed months of political crisis, including the resignation of outgoing President Otto Perez Molina and his arrest on fraud and corruption charges. With a jailed president, the country teetered on the verge of social and political chaos.
The Guatemalan church played an important role through the crisis, holding prayer meetings like one held every Saturday morning at the Central Park.
The "Guatemala Prays" movement mobilized more than 700 churches for prayer vigils and fasting. For 40 days they prayed for a peaceful solution to the crisis.
"God put His hand in Guatemala, it's a miracle what happened," prayer participant Marco Antonio Ruiz said. "We came together as Church and cried out with one voice. The effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much. God heard the voice of all those who joined us in prayer."
"The role of the Christian Church is to be the bride of the Lamb, a role of service and devotion," Morales told CBN News. "Also to evangelize, train and improve the talents of people. So, it's a fairly large role."
The church's active participation was also reflected in a debate held days before the election. The event, organized by the country's main evangelical organizations, was broadcast on national television and by satellite on the Christian network Enlace.
Both Christians and non-believers agree that the peaceful solution to Guatemala's crisis and the entire electoral process offers a lesson to other nations.
Christians in this election have affirmed that Guatemala begins its road to recovery as a direct answer to prayer.