Sustainable Housing Project

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

Without including additional information surrounding the background of this picture it would be difficult to describe it in any great detail. For those who are not familiar with the specific location, history, and culture surrounding the photo, it would be unlikely that a writer could come up with any where close to a thousand words to write about it. Even if it is known that the picture was taken in southern Honduras, there are similar scenes of small churches all across the country. Small congregations of Christians diligently collect whatever construction materials are available in the community and put them together to form a shelter that will protect them from the rain and sun during worship services. If there is electricity available in the community, the shelter would typically have a low wattage light bulb or two strung overhead. The people always look forward to someday erecting a more substantial building that they can use to worship God.

Visitors who have come to Choluteca to give us a helping hand with construction projects or those who have come with medical brigades probably recognize the scene of the photo from the "Las Cuchillas" church. From their experience, those who have been to "Las Cuchillas" could probably even add a few more details than the photo provides. They could certainly remember the ride from Choluteca in the Shalom Church's bus. After turning off the blacktop road a few miles out of the city, there was a bumpy ride over dirt roads weaving through the isolated countryside that led back to the small village. Once the visitors arrived at the church, it would not be unusual to find various species of animals wander into the shelter only to be quickly chased away by one of the church members. In their minds, those who have visited “Las Cuchillas” would likely vividly remember the people of the congregation joyously singing the Spanish choruses to familiar tunes from their childhood. The church service would also include some indigenous choruses that would never be sung twice the same way. Those who have been to "La Cuchilla" would also certainly remember swatting at the annoying insects that were attracted to the building's light that was like a beacon standing out in the dark surroundings. The 100+ degree heat without benefit of any fans can be overwhelming. Guests are always the center of attention and children would be intrigued by any visitors who stop by for a service.

To Shalom Church members, the photo brings to mind additional descriptive narratives of experiences from recent activities that had been held in the tiny building. The Shalom congregation is responsible for providing preaching and teaching support for the small rural congregation.

Mercedes is only one of Shalom’s 16 Bible Institute members who while presently serving in ministry is also preparing for expanded future ministry involvement with the regional church. These Bible Institute students are busy people who hold full-time jobs. As often is the case, some of our busiest church members are those who are willing to serve in additional areas of ministry.

Mercedes is a Registered Nurse who just finished her second Masters degree. She was recently given national recognition for her work with tuberculosis patients. Mercedes has two daughters and a son. Her two daughters are in medical school. Her husband had a kidney transplant four months ago. It would be easy for Mercedes to say that she is too busy to help out in village ministry but she is always willing to do her part in supporting the church's mission of carrying the "Good News" to all parts of the world.

The Shalom church has purchased a 12 passenger bus that is used to transport its members on the weekly preaching and teaching circuit that includes two additional villages besides the congregation of "Las Cuchillas". On Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons members from the Shalom church faithfully support the church's outreach ministries by taking turns with the preaching and teaching responsibilities.

Shalom Church members would also remember the annual VBS classes that had been held at the church. Every year the VBS program reaches 50-75 children for a week-long series of classes.

I can only wonder what the picture will look like in the near future as dedicated workers continue to invest their lives in the regional ministry surrounding Choluteca, Honduras.

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