What a blessing it was to host a team from Memorial Baptist Church from Temple, TX again this year. Joel and Wilna, the team leaders, brought 12 people from Texas, adding our interpreters Luis and Kenia, our friend and fellow servant from La Campa Antonio, and Jean and Greg we were a team of 19. For about half of the team it was their first visit to Honduras while the other half returned for their second visit. It was great to see people we had served with last year and to make new friends while serving together this year. This team was special in many ways but two in particular stood out. First, there were a lot of young people on this team. Second, there were two complete families represented within this team. Getting to see parents and their children experience short term missions together as a family is an extra blessing.
The team started off the week of ministry on Sunday in Jagua with Pastor Claudio and his church. This team served for a week in Jagua last year and it was an excellent time of ministry for the team and the people in that church. It was a blessing for the team to see people that they got to know last year and serve with them again. On our way to La Campa we stopped by La Casa De Rubén. Joel, the team leader had met Rubén once before but none of the rest of team had met him although they had heard a lot about him. They all got to meet Rubén’s younger sister Marlen and most of the FHD Honduras team, and see the house where the ministry is taking place.
Many people on our teams like to leave gently used goods here as a way to bless others. Sometimes people bring their own towels and leave them. Shortly after we opened La Casa De Rubén in April we realized we needed more towels so Jean asked our teams to participate in a program called “Bring a Towel Leave a Towel”. The idea was to accumulate a few more towels than we usually would that could be used at La Casa De Rubén. Little did we know that afternoon just how much the Memorial Baptist Church family got behind this program. We found out later that one full suitcase had nothing but towels and sheets, and everybody on the team also had more towels and sheets in their personal suitcases too! We don’t have a count yet but as you can tell by the picture there are a bunch, thank you all so much!!
After the visit at La Casa De Rubén we drove up to La Campa to unpack and settle in there for the week. For the next four days we went to the school in Coalaca to do a Backyard Bible Club/VBS program with the children. The teachers, Profe Hernan and Elida, are doing an excellent job with the children in that community and it is always a pleasure to go up there to serve with them. It is not an easy drive but it is worth every rock, rut and pothole! There was a lot of fun, songs and activities but more importantly every day the children heard how much Jesus loves them. They heard in a very age appropriate way who Jesus is, what He did for them, why He did it, and how they could receive His free gift. Keeping count isn’t our biggest priority because only God truly knows the hearts. Besides that it takes time for the evidence of one’s salvation to be worked out and evident. Saying a prayer or raising a hand isn’t a guarantee of anything. However, to the extent that we think we can know we believe that several children chose to receive Jesus’ free gift of love and forgiveness for the first time that week.
The daily schedule with this team is very full so before and after our time with the children we divided the team into three smaller groups and went door to door visiting families, praying with and for them, and sharing about Jesus. During these visits we learned something else special about this team. Everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, was prepared to share the gospel clearly and effectively. Not only were they prepared, but it was expected that they would do so. And every single person on the team did, from the youngest at only 8 years old to the oldest being…well, we don’t have to go into that much detail I don’t think 🙂
Many people chose to follow Jesus and trust Him as their Lord and Savior during these visits. We did keep count of these so that we and the local pastor can follow up with them. And as you might expect some people chose not to place their faith and trust in Jesus. While it is sad that some people aren’t interested in following Jesus everyone is free to make their own decision. In the Bible there is not one example of Jesus trying to force or pressure someone into following him, so, neither do we utilize such tactics. The Bible is clear that our responsibility as His followers is to share the Good News about Jesus with others as often as possible, as clearly as possible, and with love. If we do that then we have completed our mission. The stakes are high considering that we all will live eternally in one of two places depending on the choice we make about Jesus in this life, but what each person does with the information is up to them. God loves every person so much that He gave His Son for them. But He respects every person so much that He allows each one to make the choice. With the choice comes the benefits or consequences, but He allows us to choose nonetheless.
While there are much more difficult places in the world to travel to it is not always easy traveling in Honduras, especially the further up into the mountains one goes. Just a few days before this team was scheduled to arrive people began protesting in the streets, mostly in the larger cities. Depending on the location and intensity of the protests things can get very difficult, and sometimes dangerous in and near the protests. To be fair there were a lot of peaceful protests but even those can cause problems when you are trying to move a team in multiple vehicles cross country. So this year we had the added pressure of monitoring current events for the few days leading up to the team’s arrival in order to determine whether or not they should be here. And every day while they were here we had to keep our ears to the ground just in case it became necessary for us to have to get them out of the country ahead of schedule. That was a challenge in and of itself because all day long for four days we were in the remote mountains where there is not a cell signal. Fortunately nothing happened requiring us to change our plans although there were sporadic protests all week long while they were here. So in the end, despite the obstacles, we chose to trust God, He made the way and allowed us to have a great week of ministry during which we think He was glorified, and that is the ultimate goal.