Tag Archives: Forgotten Children Ministries

Divine Appointments: Gratitude, Pride and Deliverance in Honduras

There is so much one cannot learn about a nation in a brief span of six days. And yet, so much that is known because of a shared Creator.

Two thoughts linger from my week serving with a mission team in Honduras:

  • Gratitude and pride can co-exist
  • Things are not always as they seem

Of gratitude and pride

As we offered food, supplies and prayers to families in and around Monte Redondo, I felt strongly that the receivers of our gifts should not be made to feel inferior because of their need. They may live in one dirt-floored room next to a dump, their clothes may be soiled and their hands rough from picking trash, but they are created in the image of God. They have families who love and need them. And, much of the time, their impoverished living conditions are not of their choosing, but the product of circumstance, and of a corrupt government system that provides only minimal support for poor citizens.

I feared their shame when they saw us approaching. I received their gratitude and joy.

Again and again, we were greeted with a warm smile and a stream of Spanish words that welcomed us into their homes. If a seat was available, it was offered to one of us. Our translators conveyed our message. Questions were asked.

Si, four children. Three families live here. I am out of work. My wife is sick. Please pray for our country…..

And, then…

Gracias. You came all the way from America? I hoped you would come. How can I pray for you? God is good…..

A family with so little showing gratitude? And moments of pride? Humble pride in their beautiful children, the well-kept kitchen, in flowers cultivated by the side of their homes.

We saw a range of living situations, from the dump-side shanties to the bright turquoise stucco homes clustered in a mountainside village. Some were cleaner than others, most were incredibly small.

But they were “home” to the families living there. When I asked our translator, after an extended conversation, why the father in a particular family has not considered another way to live, she said “It’s what he knows, what he likes. For him, there is no other way.”

Of misconceptions

The same gentleman told us he reads his Bible and understands and believes what it says, but he still hasn’t accepted Jesus into his heart. He does not know why, but he can’t take that step. Fear? Doubt?

I asked the translator whether she sees a mix of Catholicism and black magic among Hondurans who are not Christian, as I had encountered in Nicaragua. She said, yes, such confusion does exist.

Then this sweet young woman proceeded to tell me her own story.

She began practicing “witchcraft” at age four and was part of a cult as a teenage. In fact, had she not made the choice to turn her back on the occult at age 18, she feels she would be dead today. It grieves her to see people resist salvation when it is so close at hand. She is just 22, but wise beyond her years, and filled with the joy of her new life in Jesus.

Such encounters and conversations will continue to unravel in my brain and make their way into my heart in the coming weeks as I pray for my brothers and sisters in Honduras.

Aza Rivera was one of the boys rescued from the streets of Honduras nearly 15 years ago. He now works in the ministry and is a worship leader in his church. He is a blessing, both to the children of Forgotten Children Ministries and to the missionaries who serve.

Irene Zavala, Seydy Martinez and Marissa Ponce watched over us, made sense of our crazy Spanglish and, in general, made our week in Honduras fun and memorable. Irene shared her story of deliverance from witchcraft while we walked a steep pathway on our home visits. It’s a story I will never forget.

*****

Today is the last of my posts about our mission trip to Honduras. I’ll be taking a break from this blog for the remainder of the summer as I respond to nudges from the Lord to follow Him in a new direction. I hope you’ll rejoin me sometime around the end of the summer to see what God has up His proverbial sleeve and just how He wants to use me in the future.

Always be listening to His still, small voice. His words are the best.

 

 

Divine Appointments: A Story of Redemption in Honduras

There are many borders between northeast Indiana and Monte Redondo, Honduras. State borders, continental borders, national borders. We crossed them all in our journey to and from Honduras last week.

But manmade barriers prove ineffective when hearts come together to share stories of adversity and faith, and to celebrate divine appointments.

Meet Rossel Urbina.

Rossel Urbina

Rossel is familiar to those of us who have ministered through Forgotten Children Ministries many times, or who have heard stories about the children rescued from the streets of Tegucigalpa in the years following Hurricane Mitch. (An estimated 7,000 people lost their lives in the storm that hit Honduras in October, 1998.)

Rossel was one of 10 boys gathered off the streets of Tegucigalpa by FCM founder Stan Nowell over 15 years ago. A group of missionaries from my hometown were with him as he took them out to the farm that week. There, the boys received food, shelter and the message that God loves them.

Sadly, the boys had to be taken back to the city and to the streets at the end of the week. But in 2002, Stan returned to establish a permanent orphanage for street children. Rossel was one of the boys who came to live at Finca Grace farm.

Last week, through a translator, Rossel shared the story of his divine appointment.

He was 10 years old when his mother died. His father was an alcoholic, so he was left to wander the streets.

“But, God gave me what every child needs — a family and brothers.”

Rossel stayed at FCM through high school. He married and had a son, and though he had been rescued from the streets a decade earlier, Rossel found the world outside FCM still had a pull on his life.

The burdens of providing for his wife and child became too great.

“I strayed from the Lord,” said Rossel. “I hit rock bottom. My heart and mind were destroyed. I didn’t care anymore. I began doing things that damaged my marriage, that damaged my body.”

Rossel spent time in jail. After he was released, he sought help in a men’s ministry at Teen Challenge.  Through the program, he worked to regain his self-worth and restore his marriage. He also encountered “a man sent by God.”

An art teacher at Teen Challenge told Rossel he wanted to give him something — the gift of art instruction. For three months, Rossel apprenticed under the man and gained a years’ worth of art instruction.

As a result, Rossel is working full-time creating art. He is able to care for his young son at home while his wife works as a nurse. Each week, Rossel visits FCM to share his story and to sell his original pieces to mission teams. They are tangible evidence of the redemptive grace of God, meted out through the hands of FCM and Teen Challenge.

Samples of Rossel’s art (including the wall hanging featured at the start of this post).

Listening to this young man share his life story last week, I was struck by the truth that no man is immune from trial, whatever his language, nationality or family history. There are no barriers that promise life will be without struggle. All are faced with the same choices; some will make mistakes that alter their lives forever. Others will turn back to what they know is the better path, even when it’s hard.

Rossel’s message is this: “Everything that happens in life has a purpose.” He would not have chosen to lose his mother and father, to live on the streets, to turn from God or test his marriage. But Rossel’s testimony gives purpose to those realities and proof of God’s grace and mercy, and His divine appointments.

*****

Tomorrow — Irene’s story and Aza’s gift to FCM.

Feet on the Ground, Ministry in our Hearts

Today, the real mission work begins.

At least, that’s what one might assume. When we load our bus with bags of supplies for families living in the surrounding communities here in eastern Honduras, we’ll know our week of missionary work has begun.

Actually, the ministry that’s called our group of 12 women and one brave 18-year-old boy to Tegucigalpa began Saturday night when we shared dinner with the boys at Finca Grace.

And it continued Sunday at a church service and a day spent with the girls in the city. A pair of flipflops, an awkward conversation in two very different languages, games played on oil-cloth covered tables with rain pounding on the roof, hugs and giggles.

Such is the stuff of foreign missions.

We’ve traveled 1,800 miles from Indiana to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. For the next four days, we’ll share food, Jesus, hugs and handshakes with people in mountain communities, city streets and orphanages. Children who formerly lived on the street or in too-small homes with no running water will know that a group of Americans carry them in their hearts.

Later this week, as I gather with women from Monte Redondo for a Bible study on prayer, I’ll also encourage them to claim their inheritance in Christ, to know that they are co-heirs and remind them of how much they are loved.

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” I Samuel 12:23

What’s Brewing? The Coffee in Your Cup Helps Bring Children ‘Home’

What's Brewing- Blog badge. (2)She drew people to her, young and old alike. She just lit up the room. Was it her smile? Her naturally friendly manner? The curly red hair and sparkling giggle certainly caught your attention.

But beyond all that, what illuminated the face of my friend Chris was love — the love of Jesus that she spread all over those in her path.

Before Chris died far too young and with so much more love to give, she “adopted” a passel of street children in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Chris made many trips from LaGrange to Honduras to bring love and hope to boys and girls who had found a home through the efforts of Forgotten Children Ministries. An orphanage established by her home church, LaGrange First Church of God, welcomes missionaries to this dangerous Central American city every year and Chris made the trip often. Her husband and children understood her passion for the ministry and willingly shared her with the street children, traveling to Honduras with her when they could.

Brad shares a message with those waiting for rice and beans.

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A mother and her baby wait to receive rice and beans.

The year after brain cancer took her life, Chris’ family joined the mission team’s annual trip to Honduras. In her honor, they shared gifts Chris had collected for them, including a large bag of marbles for the little boys she loved so much.

Joining the missionaries that year was Paul Smith, a cousin to Chris’ husband and co-owner of Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee. Paul saw the life-giving work of FCM firsthand and understood the passion Chris held for the ministry. Shortly after this trip, Paul and his brother, Jared, found a way to contribute to the work that meant so much to Chris.

photo (15)My favorite coffee roasted by Great Lakes is Chris’ Blend. It’s a rich mixture of African and Honduran coffee that I brew up at home every day and at our church on Sunday mornings. For every bag of Chris’ Blend that’s purchased from Great Lakes, $1 is sent to Forgotten Children Ministries in honor of Chris.

The next time you stop by Great Lakes and see Chris’ Blend on the menu for the day, order a cup. Better yet, take home a bag. As you sip, appreciate that because of my friend Chris and the guys at Great Lakes, the coffee in your cup helps bring forgotten children “home”.

For more about Forgotten Children Ministries, read my blog series about the ministry here.

 

How ‘Forgotten Children’ Changed My Life

At a writing conference in Michigan last spring, I met a tall young woman with a captivating smile and a beautiful accent. We ran into each other over and over again during the conference (including in various restrooms) and decided we could be “cyber friends”. Though we live half a continent apart, I’ve enjoyed getting acquainted with Bronwyn Lea over the past several months via her blog and other writings. At her request, I’m honored to share these words that have had an impact on my life.

Many conversations over the years have given me pause, turned me on my heels, changed my view of things, but few have had the impact of two words spoken from the altar by a woman in the church we began attending six years ago:

“Forgotten children.”

To read more of my post about these words that impacted my life, visit Bronwyn’s blog here…..

Gringos playing soccer with boys at the Honduran orphanage run by Forgotten Children Ministries.

Gringos playing soccer with boys at the Honduran orphanage run by Forgotten Children Ministries.

 

To read about more about our 2013 mission trip to Honduras, click on “missions” on my blog.