Friday, April 26, 2013

Honduran Tenacity

from Bruce, in Honduras, Week 3


One word I would use to describe the Hondurans of the Christian church here is “tenacious”.

 In spite of living in an environment where the odds are stacked against them (no help from the government, oppression from the gangs, 60% unemployment), they appear to face each day with an attitude of commitment that says “Today will be a good day”.

 We attended worship at Pastor Juan’s church last Monday night. This little building is perched high on a mountain side and has a sweeping view of Tegucigalpa  When we arrived, there was a small group of young men and boys playing soccer in the street on the only semi-level piece of land in the neighborhood. 

There is no parking lot here that fills up with vehicles easing in and families spilling out. Here people arrive in small clusters, walking down and up the steep uneven mountainside to spend time in worship of the God that sustains them. Eventually 50 or so were present, standing or sitting on benches around the outside of this simple one-room church building. Two of them are a grandmother in her 80’s with a handicapped granddaughter in her 20’s. Worship begins at 4 so that no one will need to walk home in the dark. This hillside is under the oppression of the MS-13 gang and walking home in the dark is just asking for trouble.

 The worship started with singing lead by Brother Juan playing amplified acoustic guitar and singing by his stout wife whose sincerity shown brightly through the language barrier. Everyone joined in and the singing was loud and strong with praise and thanksgiving. The singing leads to movement and movement leads to dancing and the raising of hands. The Spirit in that time of worship was thick. Because the people here have few options for coping with their situation. Join a gang perhaps, pay the taxes the gangs enforce, suicide. Or, run to the One who promises that even in the presence or our enemies he will restore us and provide his protection.

 I have attached some pictures that, to me, represent the level of tenacity that I have witnessed here. It was on the third day of hand digging the footing trench for the church addition that it was decided to tackle this big 6-man boulder that had been dug around and ignored previously.

 The ground here is a funky mix of dark gray clay mixed randomly with rocks of various sizes. It digs hard and you are constantly slowed down by the rocks along the way. And it’s hot, averaging 90 degrees. 

Personally, I would have just left that boulder in place and poured concrete over it but the men here would not compromise. They took turns digging around its edges with a pick and bar  until it was lying completely exposed in the ditch and I am pondering, now what ? 

There was no backhoe or other easy way of lifting this boulder out of the ditch. So again, as a team, they took turns slamming this boulder with an 8-pound sledge hammer. It took some time and advice from the older men about how and where to strike. Eventually chunk after chunk was broken away until this obstacle to our work success was small enough for two men to lift from the ditch and eventually used as fill beneath a new slab floor in the room we are building.

 This whole rock busting episode I see as and analogy to the Christian Hondurans level of tenacity. Their obstacles to success are bigger than any one person, so they are succeeding by working together and incorporating God’s Wisdom in the course of facing their everyday challenges. And compromise is not what they are interested in.

 It’s a privilege and great pleasure to personally experience this kind of living.
 Thank-you for your support,


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