An Update: Our entire focus as missionaries is placed on developing people to become effective disciples of Christ. Our individual gifts and talents largely define our specific ministry involvement in Honduras, but to some degree we are involved in each of the areas of evangelism, teaching, preaching, healing and mentoring of those we come in contact with.
Fortunately, the Shalom Church now consists of a group of maturing believers who are being prepared to participate in the process of developing the regional ministry. Leadership courses are being taught. Church members are enrolled in the Bible Institute. Spiritual gifts are being defined and people are being placed in suitable areas of ministry. Evangelism campaigns are being planned and carried out by the church. This allows me as a missionary to spend more time with a few of those men who desire to grow spiritually and want to serve God.
I have been blessed to invest quality time with three men in particular. Chacho, Armando and Heber have worked directly with me for the past several years. They helped build the clinic, have worked alongside work teams from the States, and continue to be involved where ever they are needed. These three men have done their jobs well. We have developed a relationship of mutual encouragement and support that goes beyond the time they spend on the job site. They have each matured spiritually and are very involved in the local church and its outreach ministry.
Chacho- Chacho is one church leader who has been involved in every aspect of the Choluteca regional ministry since we arrived as missionaries in September 2000. He was there to help us unpack and move into our house. He oriented us on the best places to make purchases. He introduced us to all the people in the community that we needed to know to get started in ministry. He helped us explore new communities for evangelism.
When we arrived in Choluteca after Hurricane Mitch to become involved in the new ministry, Chacho was making his living hauling sand and gravel with his oxen. Chacho is now in charge of coordinating maintenance and construction projects at the clinic, vocational school and churches in the region. Instead of working with oxen Chacho operates our church bus. He works closely with work teams and takes care of all of the purchasing of construction materials.
Chacho and his wife Pati have been instrumental in helping establish the ministry in the community “7 de Mayo”. They have directed a team of teachers from the Shalom Church who have used the Community Health Evangelism model to work with children, youth and women. An average of 60 children, 20 women and 20 tweens meet on every Saturday to hear Bible lessons.
We are ready for the next step, the discipleship of new believers and establishment of the church. Evangelistic services were recently held in the community and 11 people made public confessions of faith.
In the future we hope to be able to involve Chacho as an extension worker in Community Health Education.
Heber- Heber started working with us in 2005 after we purchased the clinic property and began remodeling the existing buildings and constructing new ones. Both Heber and Chacho have taken opportunities to continue studying so that they will be more effective in their jobs and in the ministry outreach of the church. They both took a computer course at the vocational school this year. Both Heber and Chacho are in their third and final year in the Bible Institute. Both are learning English so that they can work better with work teams.
Heber is already very actively involved in church ministry, but after graduation from the Bible Institute, he will likely become even more involved once he graduates. Heber has teaching and preaching gifts which are needed by the Shalom Church as new congregations are being established around the city. Heber has especially been active in the discipleship program.
Pray for Heber as he is seeking God’s will for future ministry. Also pray for Heber’s wife Irma who is struggling with health problems.
Armando- Armando is in his mid-60’s and says that these are the best days of his life. It has not always been that way with Armando. Before coming to the church several years ago Armando had given up on life.
Armando explained that he had come to the point several years ago where he gave up on medicines and doctors. He had lost all hope of ever getting better. He sold his meat-cutting business because he was no longer able to work. One day Armando got to the point where he felt that everything was hopeless. He got bathed and dressed and lay down on his bed waiting to die. He left the door open because he didn’t want anybody to break the door down.
A neighbor came by and convinced Armando to get up from bed and go to church with him. That night several years ago Armando accepted Christ. His physical condition immediately improved. His outlook on life changed drastically.
Now Armando helps out at the clinic during the daytime. Even though he is gradually losing his eye sight, Armando has his joy restored.
Armando and I share a common love for agriculture and a vision for having a regional retreat center someday. We want a place where church members and especially church leaders can have a place to get away for a time of rest and reflection.
Armando and I have an agreement. Armando will take care of the animals on the property and I will take care of the ornamental plants and the vegetables.
Future ministry– We are praying about a new direction in ministry. We are looking at using Chacho and Heber as extension agents of the vocational school and the church. Heber and Chacho have both been involved in learning the Community Health Education model of community transformation.
We want to focus on working on establishing additional ministries in a couple of new areas. We hope to go into selected areas with mobile vocational education programs. While the vocational school sets up satellite classes in different areas we hope to place Heber and Chacho in the same community teaching gardening, small animal production and working with new small businesses.
One of the exciting opportunities is collaborating with The Ohio State University in setting up model aquaponics projects. A small team from Ohio State plans to travel to Choluteca sometime in October to investigate the opportunities and to make plans. This Fall the university will be offering a “Capstone” project for senior students interested in the engineering, business and agricultural aspects of the project. We are happy that the initial stage of the program has been funded.