Two Honduran Pastors
While the rest of our team went to Armenia Bonito to do some construction and assist at the medical clinic I was taken by two of the long-term MTW missionaries to meet with two local Honduran pastors. The two missionaries I went with were Seth McLaughlin (see his blog here) and Mike Troxell (see his blog here). Seth and Mike are both working with the local Honduran pastors to provide fellowship, encouragement, training and resources. They hope to unite churches in the U.S. with the pastors and congregations in Honduras to form long-term relationships.
The first pastor I got to meet with was Pastor Vincente in Colonias Trejo, a small neighborhood in La Ceiba. When I met Pastor Vincente I was struck at how small this man was compared to my hulking North American frame. But what struck me even more was how big his heart is. He is an energetic man who longs to have his church and community changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we sat down to talk I was able to lay out before him our vision of equipping everyone who comes through our doors to engage others with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to do this locally and globally.
I told him that the purpose of sending teams to Honduras and other countries is three-fold: 1) to show local indigenous people the love of Jesus Christ and to further His kingdom in their land by assisting them in any way possible; 2) to assist and encourage long-term missionaries in their efforts at expanding the kingdom of God; and 3) to produce in our hearts a deeper sense of how blessed we are and how we can use the resources God has given us to bless others. We hope that some of those we send on short-term mission trips end up serving in long-term capacties later in life because they were inspired and called by God to do so through these trips.
Pastor Vincente enjoyed hearing our vision for our church and for missions. He shared much of the same vision for his church. They want to see the hearts of people in his church and his community changed by the gospel so that they are propelled in to kingdom service. Pastor Vincente shared what he sees as his congregation's two greatest needs: 1) Instruction - they could really benefit from good biblical instruction from trained pastors, they need ESL classes, they need specific teaching for their youth, and they need instruction in better health practices; 2) Construction - Pastor Vincente's congregation is being forced to move by their landlord. They are considering purchasing a lot on the main road into their community but they would require much help to purchase the property and to build a facility on the property.
Like most, if not all, Honduran pastors, Pastor Vincente has to be bi-vocational. He cannot live on what his congregation is able to give. Pastor Vincente hopes to be able to build a facility on the new property that would enable them to run a small business selling inexpensive breakfast and lunches to locals on their way to work.
After a couple of hours discussing these things, we shared prayer requests and prayed for each other.
Mike, Seth and I then went to visit another pastor, Pastor Donaldo. In Honduras and most Latin American countries the pastor's wife is also called pastor. This makes sense as she always plays a vital role in the pastor's life and in the work of the church. So Pastor Donaldo's wife, Pastora Rita, also sat in on our conversation. Pastor Donaldo and his wife live in a neighborhood called Eden. Their church meets on a 20 X 30 foot porch that was built on their front of their house by an MTW team. Because they have hosted medical clinics at their house/church many people from the community hold them in high esteem. Many will come and drop in at their home for marriage counseling and pastoral guidance. Most ofthese people don't attend their church. They have a great outreach to their community.
Most churches in Honduras do not have a good reputation in the community as most are very insular and serve only the needs of a few known people. Because Pastor Donaldo and Pastora Rita host medical clinics and offer counsel to those who need it, they stand out as a bright light in a dark place. This couple has ten children all of whom live in their home! They are so loving and giving. Caleb formed a fast friendship with their youngest boy, Ezekiel Elias.
Pastor Donaldo said his greatest needs are more training in counseling. He would also benefit from not having the church meet at his house. The space is getting overwhelmed and some do not come because it is at his home. They are hoping to purchase a small lot on the main road that can host the church and a small bakery. Donaldo lived in the U.S. for five years and he is an excellent baker. He makes a special coconut bread that they have already been able to sell in small markets and on the street. He is hoping that their new church building--if it ever materializes--can include a small bakery so he can mass produce his bread and sell it in larger quantities.
Both of these pastors realize that they have benefited greatly from the partnership with the MTW missionaries. They are both looking for more long-term partnerships with churches in the U.S. that can provide follow-up instruction in theology, health and nutrition, ESL and counseling. We need to pray that their desires will be met!
My time with the pastors last Thursday was the best day of the mission trip for me. God used it to encourage both the Honduran pastors, Mike and Seth, and this Tucsonan pastor.