You Sin, You Die

You Sin, You Die

Gangs Everywhere

When out driving on the streets of Tegucigalpa you see newspapers posted everywhere. And you will almost always see an article relating to gang violence: “Gang Kills 17 in Shoemaking Workshop,” “Drug Gang Kills 9 in Honduras,” “Gunmen Slay Footballers in Honduran Gang Attack.” As you can see by the titles of these articles, gang activity is very prevalent, and a huge problem in Honduras.

A Price to Pay 

This is a current gang member who gave his life to the Lord at our church one evening. The last we heard was that he had a "meeting" with the gang to discuss his leaving. We haven't seen him since and are praying that he is okay.

Gang members, oddly enough, have a high respect for God and anyone that chooses to follow Him. And if you want to leave the gang to become a Christian, they will let you, but at a high price. One way to get in and out of a gang is “blood in, blood out.” This means the gang members will beat you, and beat you, and beat you until you bleed profusely, pretty much until you are just about dead, yet still alive. This is how you get in a gang, and how you get out. Yet getting out does not end there. If you have confessed to the gang that you want to follow Jesus, and have received your beating, they will literally follow you everywhere you go for one year. And you better not be caught sinning. You sin, you die. If they catch you in the act of fornication, see a beer in your hand, a joint in your mouth, or even without your Bible, they will kill you.

FORGIVEN

Wow! Can you imagine being followed for a year? Being carefully watched for each and every sin you commit? I don’t know about you, but I think most of us would be dead! Because truth be told, we are all sinful beings. And because of our sinful nature we deserve death. BUT, and I am glad there is a BUT, God sent his Son to take our place. Jesus took on all the sins of the world so that we wouldn’t have to pay for them. We are FORGIVEN. I am reminded of, and thankful for, the verse in Acts 13:38, “Therefore my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”

They’re Forgiven TOO

With all that said, another major part of our ministry is witnessing to these gang members, many of whom we find in the boys juvenile detention center. And our church is full of ex gang members who have decided to leave their old life of drugs, crime, etc. and follow Jesus. These men, and sometimes women, have a past that many of us cannot even fathom, many having murdered several people. But there sins are no greater than yours or mine in the eyes of Jesus, and they too have been forgiven. They need to know this truth. They need to know they are forgiven. They need Jesus. And this is why we are here.

Some boys at the Juvenile Detention Center that have given their lives to the Lord. Here they are with their new Bibles!

Letting go is hard

And ministry is sometimes messy.

Yesterday was a sad day. One of our girls from the Eagle’s Nest choose to leave us.

Osny Isabel was part of our family for the past year. Alvin met her at Tiny Houses, which is the government run orphanage. She is a smart girl with a lot of potential. She had been sexually abused from a young age. A year and a half ago she was abducted and raped. All of these things fractured her mind and she had a nervous breakdown which ended her up in a mental hospital. Since coming to us she really started to flourish. A couple months ago she was baptized and has been an active participant in events at church.

Over the last month Osny has grown increasingly rebellious and disrespectful. She threatened to leave a number of times and even had her bags packed once. Usually after she has had some time to settle down and has received a little loving counseling she decides to stay. All of the girls at the Eagle’s Nest are there of their own free will. They are not prisoners. However, since they are minors they are wards of the Honduran government. So if they do choose to leave they return to the custody of the Child and Family Services. That fact alone is usually enough to change even the worst attitude. They never want to return to there.

For reasons we don’t understand, and maybe never will, Osny became very rebellious and disrespectful. There are rules in the home that the girls must adhere to and she broke them. She had a choice to start following the rules or she would have to return to Tiny Houses. She said she wanted to leave. Why she would choose this we will never know – and it breaks our heart.

This we know and we take comfort in: we serve a good God who knows all things and holds all things in his hands. Osny’s bad decisions are not a surprise to him. We have had other girls rebel and leave but because of the investment we made they knew the way back home when they were ready. They are now some of our most faithful church members today. We pray this is the case for Osny.

How Long Will You Be There?

How Long Will You Be There?

There are a number of things people ask us quite often about our life and ministry here in Honduras so we thought we would try to answer them in a series of blog posts we are calling “Common Questions.”

Common Question #1 – How long will you be there?

Common Question #1 - How long will you be there?It has come to our attention that we probably haven’t answered this question very well and so confused some people about our intentions. Our usual answer to this question is, “Well we didn’t know we would be moving to Honduras before a couple of years ago and so we have no idea when we will leave.” That answer is usually followed up by a second question, “Have you made any specific time commitments?” To which we answer, “No, we are just taking it year by year.” And what we mean is that God led us here and so until he leads us somewhere else, this is where we will be.

To those we have given that answer to, I am sorry we didn’t give you a better answer. In our mind it was perfectly clear but I see this left some people questioning what our commitment is. Allow me to clear up this answer.

When we left Lynden we quit our jobs, moved out of our house, and sold just about everything we own. We only have a few sentimental possessions left in storage. We left knowing we may never live in Lynden again. We may never live in the United States again. The reason we gave such a vague answer in the past is because God has not given us a specific time frame. I know many go into missions for a specific amount of time so I understand where the question comes from. However, for us, this is our life. We don’t have plans beyond Honduras. It is kind of like when you accept a job, you don’t tell your new boss you are only going to work in this job for the next five years and then you will be looking for something else. We accepted a job and we will be here until we feel God leads us elsewhere.

I know that still isn’t specific and for the analytical among us you are still asking, “How long?” We committed to living in Honduras for at least the next five years but honestly feel it will be longer than that. We have big plans here and there is so much work to do. And our work is based on building relationships so we will be here for the long-term to pour into the lives of those we love and are caring for.

So what are the big plans that will keep us here for so long? We’ll be sharing more about these plans in the near future but here is a brief synopsis: we have 3 areas of ministry that God has really laid on our hearts. One is the Eagle’s Nest. We want to see this ministry grow and flourish. The second is the Boy’s Farm where we will take young men who have given their lives to the Lord in the juvenile detention center and give them a safe place to continue education and discipleship. The third is an orphanage. We don’t know when, where, or how but even before we left for Honduras we believed some day we would build an orphanage where we will be a father to the fatherless and a mother to the motherless. Because no child deserves to grow up without someone to love them.

Motherly Love

Motherly Love

Not only is she a great mom, but a great Nana too!

I Love My Mom

As Mother’s Day approaches, or as we call it here Dia de Madre, I find myself being so thankful for my mother. I had the wonderful privilege of being raised by a loving and caring mom. For as long as I can remember, my mom has always been there for me and has been one of my biggest fans. I cannot imagine my life without a mom, especially the mom God gave me.

A World Without Mothers

I was recently doing some research on Latin America orphan statistics, since that is where Honduras is located. It made me both sick and sad to discover that 10.2 million of all children in Latin America are orphans. Included in that number, 1.2 million were orphaned in 2010 alone. And that is just Latin America! Many of these children are orphaned or abandoned as a result of poverty, conflict, or natural disaster (Worldwide Orphan Statistics). One year while here on a mission trip, Alvin told us that if each member of our team (there were 8 of us) were to come and open an orphanage in Honduras, with 500 kids each, they would all be full in a year. Anyone want to open an orphanage here? :)

This baby boy had been abandoned by his mother when she left the hospital without him, and never came back.

No Hugs & Kisses

Everyday I see children or teenagers who have no mother. You have read in previous blog entries about our experiences at Tiny Houses, which is the only government run orphanage in the city. This place is full of kids who have been orphaned and abandoned. Some have mothers and fathers, but most do not. This means that they don’t get hugged everyday, if at all. They don’t get their tears wiped away or their boo boos kissed. They don’t get the discipline that they so badly need, and even crave. The girls are not told how beautiful they are. And the boys are not told how strong they are. It’s not right and it’s not fair.

Why?

I have said before that I struggle with going to Tiny Houses. The first place I always go to is the infant house, which is usually housed with 7 or 8 babies. And I always want to take them all home. Every time I leave there, I wonder why I was blessed with a mother and they were not. Why did I and do I get to experience motherly love and they do not? I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I am reminded of a verse that my sister-in-law, Allison shared with me while they visited a couple weeks ago.

From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:26-27

My Prayer

I pray that these children are not forever orphaned and that they will be welcomed into a home with a loving mother, and father. And if it isn’t so, then I pray that they will at least have someone in their life who gives them the love they deserve. But most of all, I pray that they would seek HIM, reach out for HIM, and find HIM…because HE is really not far from each one of them.

This is Reyna. Reyna has been an orphan her whole life, but is now married and a mother to her son Joshua. She is an active member in our church and is seeking, reaching, and finding HIM.