Monday, September 15, 2014

Honduras Visit - The Point of it all

While visiting Honduras last week, I had a flash back to when I had just moved there 10 years ago.  I remembered meeting Yulisa, a 8 year old girl, in the village of Los Pinos, a 20 minute drive, or an hour and a half hike up the mountain from the main highway.  Her town was a picturesque cluster of houses and farms high in the cloud forest.  Project Global Village (PAG), the organization I worked with for the 2.5 years I lived in Honduras, was working on building a school in Los Pinos.  PAG focuses on holistic development.  The idea of holistic development is that if a school is built, kids like Yulisa will learn best if they are healthy. This means health projects are necessary; latrines to prevent dysentery, water projects to access running water, and a community pharmacy (a small medicine cabinet with a few trained volunteers to locally distribute medicines, take blood pressure, etc). Health also depends on food– hence the agriculture and small animal projects.  In Los Pinos this means a few man made fish ponds, and some chickens and goats for milk, eggs and meat.  Besides working on the school construction, health care, and food security, the education project also includes teacher trainings and a program called Diakonos that provides pastoral training. Honduras also has a pretty unstable economy that doesn't provide enough jobs for the population so PAG also runs a large micro-credit program to help small businesses provide incomes for families.  And the list of programs goes on and on...

As I left the village, I wondered, where should the development stop?  What is the goal? Is it that the Honduran villagers live like we do in the USA? No, that would just cause a whole new crop of problems.  I realized that the goal was to help people like Yulisa and her family have access to education and a healthy standard of living. I also realized that at the end of the day, what really matters, more than all these projects, is love- God’s love.  There’s nothing more important and worthwhile.  There is no point in any of the development without the true HOPE of a better eternal future for the children of Los Pinos.  

The same thoughts crept up on our trip to Honduras last week while we were visiting a few different projects and children’s homes. At the Micah Project, a home for street boys addicted to yellow glue, the boys were memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 – the chapter about Love; ”If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrifice my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Only God is true Love, and only with him, can we really love/help people that need it. That is the real reason behind the projects we do- but we can't forget that detail and get buried in the social justice aspect of projects or we will forget to point people to the source of eternal hope.

Another ministry that does an excellent job at actively loving others is Jericho Ministries, an amazing ministry that works with prostitutes on the streets of Tegucigalpa.  Jericho first started with the goal of sharing the good news of HOPE with the prostitutes on the streets and several responded to this message of hope!  This lead to the women needing employment off the streets and so Jericho began a sewing program and eventually opened a shop to sell the women's crafts. Soon they realized they needed to reach out to the women's children as well and now there is a school and rehab center/children’s home. Hearing the testimonies of the children at Jericho Ministries and seeing the countless ways that God has/is providing just what they need was refreshing to Andy and I. It was truly a blessing to visit them.

It is a miracle when you see where these kids have come from- addicted to sniffing yellow glue on the streets or children of prostitutes that have grown up being abused, and compare that to where they are today as healthy, thriving children, receiving an education. There is only one explanation for how these children are able to overcome their pasts and find joy, love and a everlasting life (heaven). 

Romans 6:23, 15:13
We just can't forget to remember that our hope is in God, not our projects or ourselves.  

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Two pictures speak volumes about God's saving power: the first, Noé and Edward on the streets consuming yellow glue; the second: the same boys at Pedro's wedding this weekend!

1 comment:

Dayna said...

Beautiful and poignant, sis. Can love be the strongest force ever available? The definition of love embodied in JESUS.