Tag Archives: Missions

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

Prayers for the Forgotten Children of Honduras

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Houses clustered on the hillside outside of Tegucigalpa.

A cloud sits on the mountain directly before me, hiding it from view. I’ve watched those clouds and mist hover and lift each morning this week as I’ve taken time to be with the Lord and to share with you reflections on this journey.

Soon, the clouds will lift and at the very top of the mountain I’ll spy one lone tree, standing separate from the others. I count on that tree to be there, proof that with determination and the right growing conditions, even one lone tree can flourish.

It’s like that with these boys and girls sheltered by Forgotten Children Ministries. As we learn snippets of their stories, it tears at the heart to know what they’ve experienced, where they’ve been, what they’ve seen. Most were alone, on the streets, doing whatever it took to survive. Some were in families too large to care for them, so they had to find a way to make it on their own.

But here, at FCM, they are learning to stand. Not just to survive, but to grow.

Last night, our final time of singing with the boys, they presented a skit about the Good Samaritan. Without words, but with exaggerated gestures and smiles on their faces, they acted out the parable from Luke 10. They are learning these stories, and others like them, but more. They are taught how to live like Jesus in the midst of poverty and chaos. They are learning to stand strong and reach for heaven.

As their bedtime drew close, the boys joined Stan in singing “Say My Name”. It is a song Stan composed after hearing a little boy beseech a team member over and over, asking that man to just say his name. The boy eventually chose to leave the shelter and is back on the street today, running with a gang. Stan shares that recently the young man found himself seated on a bus next to one of the older mission boys. He had a pistol in his pocket and gang orders to rob everyone on the bus. The wayward young one apparently remembered the love and shelter he had received at the mission, and chose not to rob his “friend”.

Developing hands on, loving relationships with these forgotten children, and with the families struggling to survive — that is the mission of Forgotten Children Ministries. The work will not end, and there will be fruit. There will continue to be boys and girls who grow into men and women who stand strong and reach for heaven.

The mist is lifting. The tree is still there, reaching, surviving.

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The girls at Grace Home, offering up a dance of praise.

Finding the Forgotten Children in Honduras: Part Five

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

God has His hands all over this mission to Honduras, and no truer evidence of His sovereignty could be seen than in the corrections He made in our plans on Wednesday evening.

After a long day of ministering to families on the hillsides, disabled children in the city and the boys at the farm, our team was looking forward to worshiping in the church at Monte Redondo last evening. Stan Nowell, founder of this ministry, returned from the U.S. to Tegucigalpa earlier in the afternoon and he was to deliver the message. Pastor Rudolpho would lead us in lively worship. We were excited.

Just a mile or so out of the city, our bus began making funny noises. Don’t ask me what happened; I just know it didn’t sound good. Our very capable bus driver, Marco Tulio, was dressed in his best white shirt for the church service, but he was out of the bus and under the chassis before anyone could suggest a change of clothes. Marco owns this bus and he is very responsible about keeping it in good running order, but too many runs on too many winding hillsides are taking their toll.

Strangers passing by offered help and suggestions, with one woman going off to find a friend who is a mechanic. In the meantime, the family of two of our interpreters provided a bus from their fleet and within half an hour, we were back on the road, too late for church and returning to the mission in the city.

Tegucigalpa is not a safe city, especially at night. By God’s providence, our bus broke down within yards of a city police station and we stopped in front of a slaughterhouse. While it was a bit disconcerting to be stuck along a busy highway, not to mention missing our evening of worship, we were grateful for the outcome. And it was interesting to notice how the famous Honduran “machismo” played out in an emergency. The young Honduran men from the mission who were riding to the church with us immediately stepped from the bus to see what they could do. And when we left the bus to board the next one, there was a line of strong young men keeping us safe in the transition.

Back at the mission, God’s plan for our evening played out in a sweet time of worshiping with and getting to know Stan. He is legendary at FCM and his story is compelling. The man has truly submitted his life to God and to this work in Honduras. Stan led the first mission to the street children of Tegucigalpa with a team from our church. The 13 boys Stan and our team picked up from the streets and bused to the farm were the beginning of Forgotten Children Ministries.

We may never know what was avoided or what impact was made by the detour God ordained for us last night, but I’ve learned to be excited and expectant when He steps in. Knowing He is in control makes it possible to rest in the knowledge that His plan is the GOOD one.

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The bulk of our work is behind us, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we have more opportunities to be His hands and feet today as we travel to Valley of the Angels for shopping and dinner. Later in the day, we’ll have one last visit with the girls at Grace Shelter, and I’ll be able to hug little Nayeli and recite the names of body parts that she is teaching me in Spanish. Before we leave for the day, I want to share a photo of a young man who surprised all of us with a moving testimony last Sunday in Monte Redondo. John is on his second mission to Honduras and his story of growth from the “typical American teenager” to the committed, God-fearing young man he is today had an impact on all of us.

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Team member John McKinney sharing his testimony with the help of our interpreter, Rigo.

Finding the Forgotten Children in Honduras: Part Three

Today’s reflection comes from the heart of Madonna Snyder, a pastor at our church and a dear friend. This is her first mission trip to Honduras:

Again today we made our way to the school soccer field to set up and cook for hundreds of people.  I thought the crowd was much bigger than yesterday, but yesterday I was helping serve the drink so my head had been down most of the time.  I purposely chose a different job today in order to see the faces and make eye contact and be able to give a smile to those going through for the food we gladly give away.

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Pastor Madonna Snyder and her team praying with one of the families living near the dump.

Most of the faces were strangers to me but there were two women who seemed like old friends, Maria Elena and Candida.  I met these two neighbors only yesterday when the group I was in made our way to each of their homes to invite them to yesterday’s meal.  We were welcomed in with great hospitality and warmth and there was a genuine joy they showed us for having taken the time to stop by and see them.  We were able to visit and take our time to hear a little of their stories and then share prayer together.  This simple unplanned visit seemed to join our hearts and today when they joined us at the soccer field again we hugged tightly, happy to see one another.

Before the meal is served each day there is first a worship service so that we can not only feed their stomachs but also give them the gospel to feed their souls.  As I stood among the crowd with all those I didn’t know, listening to singing in a language I mostly don’t understand, I am surprised by how much my soul still is able to worship.  Then watching Maria Elena worship with her eyes closed and hands outstretched brings tears to my eyes as she pours her heart into her singing, unphased by the fact that others are watching her.  And my mind begins to wonder about the others in the crowd.

Pastor Rudolpho is leading worship and there are those close up who are fully engaged the way Maria Elena is, there are those just behind this front group, who are there but not fully participating but being respectful. Then there are those who are sitting back, not part of the crowd,who seem totally unengaged waiting for the meal we will serve; not much interested in worshiping except to stare in curiosity at the worshipers.

I cannot help but think of the Parable of the Sower, found in Matthew 13.  Long ago Jesus told us that there would be those who’d hear the Word and it would take root in their lives and some would hear the Word and it would not.  A farmer may know well what type of soil he has to work with but when it comes to the heart of our fellow human beings we are not privileged with that information.  God knows the condition of the heart but we are still required to sow the seed.  We are not called to pass judgment on who is ready to have the Word take root, we are called to spread the gospel far and wide and to do so with generosity and love.  And so again today that is what we did, fully trusting God to work in the lives of the beautiful Hondurans.

And we are also trusting God with our new friends. In the world I live in it’s so easy to stay in touch that it’s a little difficult for me to think I may never see Maria Elena or Candida again, but I know that God will be here with them in Honduras.  I know that, not simply because His Word says He will never leave us, but because I have seen Him here.  God has been working. God is working and He will continue to work, and I’m feeling blessed that He allows us to join Him in that work.

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Today is our last day to work in the neighborhoods surrounding Tegucigalpa. It will be a hard one for all of us. We talked in our “team time” last night about the fact there is so much need, and so little that we can offer. But we were reminded that every contact, every prayer, each bag of beans and rice leave an impact. And we have to trust God to do the work, to grow the seeds we are planting.

Before we left Honduras last year, one of the missionaries living here told us to consider that the Lord put us where we are, in our daily lives back in the States, for a reason. He said that while, for some of us, our tender hearts may cause us to reject the blessings He has given us, we need to understand that it is because of those blessings that we can do this work we are engaged in right now. And he called us to pray for others the Lord HAS placed in Honduras to do long-term work.

It was a blessing to hear from one of our interpreters, Seun, that Hondurans have great appreciation for the sacrifices we make in our lives so that we can come to her country and minister to the poor. She says that the Honduran government fails to provide for the very basic needs of its people, and that they believe God has sent us as His ambassadors.

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A Honduran woman shares her prayer needs.

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One of our interpreters, Seun, with Allison (right) and Rossel, a young man who has grown up in the ministry and works with the younger boys.

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Nayeli and Natalie, little girls from the orphanage, concentrate on their creating their prayer journals during our visit with them.

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Our leader, Cindy, is serenaded by Juan Azael and Carlos in celebration of her birthday on a porch at Finca Grace.

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An ice cream vendor walked through the crowd during meal time, ringing his bell and providing “dessert”.

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Two of our team administer first aid to a woman who works in the dump. Those in the background are joined in worship led by Pastor Rudolpho.

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Colorful flowers lend beauty to the humble dwellings.

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School girls take the path from a “pulperia” — a roadside snack stand — back to school.

A final word: There was plenty of excitement at the shelter last night as the Honduras and US soccer teams faced off in tournament play — and not a few sad Hondurans when the US won 1-0. Go Team USA!