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people of praise

Honduras trip a lesson in faith

Halstead

I challenged the Community CRC church family during a Sunday morning worship service in the summer of 2011:

“We are partnering locally with Latter Rain Ministries (pastored by Bishop Reginald Blackmon) to share the gospel in Fort Wayne. Why don’t we partner with a church in El Potrero, Honduras, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ globally?”

The church agreed to share the gospel globally by adopting a CRC church in Honduras through World Renew, and they scheduled their first mission trip to Honduras in April 2012.

We adopted a CRC sister church in the town called El Potrero, in rural Olancho, Honduras. In English, potrero means “pasture.” The name came because before houses were built, the whole area served as pasture for cows.

Agriculture is the main source of income in El Potrero, and 65 percent of the population lives in poverty. The community has no electricity or running water, and the main water source was from the nearby river. The only source of income and sustenance in their community is farming or livestock (cattle, pigs, chickens), and their annual income was $600 to $800.

The main objective of our first mission team in 2012 was to form a relationship with the El Potrero CRC church and to equip each other to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Lord decided to unite our bond of friendship quickly by having the El Potrero church building blow down during a severe storm a month before our scheduled visit. The El Potrero church family had no church building, just an empty lot where an adobe brick building used to stand.

When we arrived in El Potrero in April 2012, we worshipped together on the empty church lot that the local church had excavated.

The two church families slowly began to get to know each other and enjoyed worshipping together, but the need in the community was literally right before us. The El Potrero community had used the church building not only for their church service but also for their community meetings. The small community of 40 families had no community building, and they had many additional community needs.

A CRC missionary came later in the week and told us that it would cost $11,000 to build a cement block building on the site. He committed $1,000 to help them start on the foundation, and he challenged us to commit $5,000.

I began to share why we would not be able to meet those needs: “We are a small church, we are not making the budget to begin with, and besides that, how would they get the other $5,000 needed to complete the church?”

The missionary gently took me aside and shared a simple spiritual truth, “Jim, you are looking at the mountain to be climbed and not to the one who says, ‘every animal of the forest is mine and the cattle on a thousand hills’ (Psalm 50:10).

“God brought you to this community one month after their church collapsed so you could see what he was going to do through your faith in him to encourage this community. Don’t limit what God wants to do in and through this community because of your lack of faith.”

I told the missionary that Community CRC would commit to raise $5,000 and we would commit to come back the following year to see what God has done.

A team of three people from Community CRC returned for their second trip to El Potrero, Honduras, in April. God was able to do far more than all they asked or imagined. The Lord raised more than $5,500 from not only Community CRC but also from others in Fort Wayne to help rebuild the El Potrero church building.

Community CRC and others from Fort Wayne were also able to help them raise funds to complete the painting of their new church building ($1,200), provide a medical cabinet and medical training ($500), provide pilas (outdoor sinks) for four families in the village ($1,000), provide school and church supplies ($500), and participate in the dedication service of their new church building.

At the dedication service, we were challenged in significant ways. El Potero CRC Pastor Livil shared how they were able to raise the funds for their new church building. They thanked the CRC missionary and Community CRC for their generous gift.

Then he shared how many people in the community sacrificially gave to complete their building. They began to read the names of people in the El Potrero community and neighboring community who donated their cattle, goats and chickens to provide the additional $5,000 funds to rebuild the church.

Yes, the Lord does own the cattle of thousands of hills to raise the funds to rebuild his church.

Jim Halstead is pastor of Fort Wayne Community CRC. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Please include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.

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