by Barb Rice, Deep Run East
Ken Burkholder, pastor of Deep Run East congregation (Perkasie, Pa.), joined the 27th MAMA Project Team that Deep Run East has sent to Honduras since 2001. Over the years, Pastor Ken had heard from teams reporting on their experiences and had met some of the MAMA Project partners on their visits to the US, but on March 15-22, he joined the team in Honduras.
On March 16, one day after arrival in San Pedro Sula, the team arrived at Iglesia Central Menonita (the largest Mennonite Church in the city) for an inspired and holy time of worship. Wow… talk about a worship team and praise music! Pastor Ken was invited to preach and his sermon followed worship, focusing on II Cor. 5: 17-21, “In Christ—New Creation.” In the context of violence and poverty in Honduras, the call to reconciliation and being ambassadors and coworkers with Christ was powerful to all who were listening.
After the worship service it was good to play a little “Mennonite game,” meeting Honduran young persons who had been part of the Mennonite Central Committee IVEP program and also discovering that the worship band leader had attended Eastern Mennonite University’s Peace Institute. What a blessing to fellowship with other believers around the world; Pastor Ken and another team member were visiting so long that the rest of the group left them behind!
Pastor Adalid Romero, president of the Honduran Mennonite Church, met with our team and explained how life in Honduras was lived in the midst of organized crime and corruption, with much illegal immigration to the US, Mexico, and Spain. He shared that “the situation here would be that much worse than it already is, if it wasn’t for the presence of the churches in Honduras!” The Honduran Mennonite Church works to teach peacemaking in schools where guns and knives show up routinely, introducing students to a different way of problem solving without violence.
That Sunday evening, the team headed to Iglesia Evangelica del Principe de Paz, a church in a poor community at the edge of the city. The church is located in the middle of drug traffic and gang tensions, but the community loves our teams and helps to ensure we are protected. Deep Run East and Swamp congregation (Quakertown, Pa.) have partnered with the pastor of this church, Juan Angel Ramirez, to work in this community. A new church has been built over the last two years and, as we arrived, everyone was waiting outside for the “big reveal.” The dedication service included ribbon cutting, with eight children dressed in rented wedding clothes holding the ribbons. Pastor Ken, as the honored guest, was given the scissors. The new building is an amazing testament of God’s desire for the church to be a beacon of hope, sitting up on the hill for all in the community to see.
That week we traveled to a remote community each day, setting up a clinic to give parasite medicine and vitamins and do medical consults. In addition, a work project was planned in each community. Our team organizer, Irma Dinora Molina, an involved member in the Honduran Mennonite Church, suggested working in some of the poor struggling Mennonite communities around San Pedro Sula. This plan was a perfect fit for a team with a Mennonite pastor. It was a highlight to see Ken connect, pray, and worship with the pastors in these communities. These are some of Ken’s comments after our trip:
- The Church is the Hope of the World – In the midst of the poverty, suffering, and brokenness that we encountered in Honduras, we witnessed how the church is a beacon of light and hope. I greatly enjoyed interacting with the pastors. They love the Lord, they love their communities, they believe in the power of prayer, and some of them are literally risking their lives to be pastors!
- Power of Prayer – The people of Honduras pray often and fervently! We prayed together before beginning our work for the day, we laid hands on and prayed for a vehicle that wasn’t running well, and we experienced answered prayers from our Deep Run East and Honduran friends in various ways throughout the week.
- Spontaneous Worship/Prayer Experience – Words simply cannot capture the one experience I had of spontaneous worship and prayer among a group of Hondurans as we were finishing a painting job. I clearly witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit and I would describe this as a “modern-day Pentecost experience.”
If worship experiences like these seem intriguing, think about joining even more powerful worship services at Mennonite World Conference in Harrisburg, PA, July 2015. Our friends in Honduras are anxious to come too…please pray for the visa process.