My first title choice for this post was ‘The Peace Child’ but as soon as I put that to paper I remembered that years ago I read a book with the same title written by Don Richardson. Out of respect for him and that amazing story I did not want to mislead, misdirect, or appear in the slightest way to draw an exaggerated comparison to my story so I chose a slightly different title. Nonetheless I am very excited to tell you a personal story involving a very special child we met recently.
Jean and I moved down to Honduras at the end of May last year, and through the end of the summer we worked with several mission teams that had been planned by a close missionary friend of ours. During that time we also had to work really hard to get our house finished, move in, and then adjust to our new lives in a different land.
The settling in process continues although it gets a little easier every day as we get more used to everything here. But settled in or not, last fall we knew we had to get started making plans for ministry in 2016. So we started meeting with the local pastors we know in and around La Campa. We asked them if there are any communities where you have been working that are ready for a church, and if there are any unreached communities that need a church.
During these meetings we learned about two communities not terribly far from us named Mezcalillo and Arcamón. Neither of these communities has an evangelical church, and at that time there was not any active outreach activities taking place. Since our primary ministry is church planting we were very excited to hear about these places.
Arcamón is about an hour beyond and above a place called Caiquin. Pastor Jorge is a friend of ours who lives in Caiquin and pastors the church there. In the past he and others from his church had done some outreach in Arcamón but with little success. For various reasons they did not continue the work so no progress had been made.
Pastor Jorge was very open and transparent about this during our meetings and said he would like for us to start visiting Arcamón with him. We agreed that it would be a good place to go and minister so we made plans for a team from Atlanta to visit Arcamón early in 2016. We got to Caiquin a little early so we were standing in the dusty streets waiting for Pastor Jorge. He and two others came and met us so we got started making our plans for the day.
While we were talking a couple more people joined us, and then another and another until there was almost 20 people standing around. We thought most of these were people just curious to see what was happening since it is not normal for a bunch of white people to be standing around in Caiquin. But then Pastor Jorge told us that these were all people from his church who wanted to be a part of sharing the gospel in Arcamón. Needless to say we were amazed at how God was already working and we had just barely gotten started.
We bounced along for nearly an hour up the mountain to Arcamón. It was so windy up there that we were afraid our very young, and very skinny, interpreter was going to get blown off the mountain! He didn’t of course and we got started going house to house greeting people, sharing the gospel, and praying for them. We were well received by many, some were a little apathetic, but no one was hostile toward us. While there was no visible breakthrough we know that many seeds were planted. The most exciting thing is that the church in Caiquin is now fired up about reaching Arcamón and we will get to go back with them.
The other community we visited is Mezcalillo. It is not far from Mataras where we got to help Pastor Samuel plant a new church in 2013. Prior to 2013 he was walking four hours each way to attend church in La Campa where he could hear the Word preached. He had a vision to preach the Bible in Mataras so that lives would be transformed with the truth and God has been doing just that. Pastor Samuel was unable to go with us because he had to travel to a conference that day but we made plans for Juan, his assistant pastor, and another young man to go with us.
We should have known from the beginning that God had something big in store for us that day because the first thing that happened was a disappointment. We met at the church in Mataras and started driving to Mezcalillo. Suddenly the young man asked me to stop on the side of the road. We found out that he decided to go pick coffee so he was not going with us. So Juan then got into our vehicle since we were the lead truck and I wasn’t exactly sure where we were going. Apparently it was a surprise and a disappointment for Juan too. He then proceeded to explain to us that he too had a lot of work to do picking coffee but that it was more important to go with us to share the gospel that day than to pick coffee.
A little while later we got to Mezcalillo and started going house to house. To help you get the picture, going house to house is much different here; we don’t park at the entrance of the subdivision and walk on nice level sidewalks where there are hundreds of houses, each just a few feet from the next. In Mezcalillo we hiked up and down narrow trails with lots of rocks, loose dirt, mud, and other “stuff”.
As we were walking past one house the daughter came running out and asked us to stop. Earlier we had talked to her father at a different house and the daughter and mother wanted us to stop there so they could give us some bananas. We are continually amazed by the generosity of people who have so little to give in the first place.
It was getting close to the end of our time there but Juan wanted us to visit two more houses at the edge of the community so we did. We stopped at the first house and approached it respectfully just as we always approach stranger’s homes. We have yet to be turned away and we have yet to be afraid of approaching a home but we always do so respectfully.
While Juan was asking permission for us to enter a little boy about one year old looked around the corner of the doorway. I was just a few feet away from the door so when I saw him I knelt down and said “Hola niño” once or twice like I almost always do when I meet a little boy. Normally they will smile a little, or go back into the house, only to peek out again, sometimes while hiding behind their mom’s legs. But this time was different. As soon as I spoke to him he came straight to me with open arms. Not only did he come to me immediately and without reservation, but he did not leave my side, or actually my lap, the whole time we were there.
Shortly into the conversation we learned that the mother, Gloria Marina, has seven children including a set of triplets. Most of the children were there but some were off picking coffee with their father. But more importantly we learned that this is a family of evangelical believers and they are suffering a certain amount of persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
In Christian missions there is a phrase, or more accurately a principle, that when trying to reach an unreached community we should be looking for “the man of peace”. God always goes ahead of us to prepare the way so there is always a man who God has called out to be the Christian leader in that community before even that man realizes it. So my main prayer that morning was that God would reveal this man to us.
Shortly after we left Gloria Marina’s home I reflected on what had happened and God revealed to me that He did indeed answer my prayer. God spoke to me through the open arms of a trusting little boy, our child of peace, to reveal to us the family of peace, which we believe will become the foundation for the church that will one day boldly reveal Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to the people of Mezcalillo.