My friend Hewitt and I flew out on time (6am) Saturday morning, Nov. 19th. We landed in Houston on time and made our connecting flight. We boarded the plane, and then about 5 minutes after boarding the airlines removed us from that plane and put us on another one for maintenance reasons. All in all, however, we only arrived in Tegucigalpa 30 minutes late. (Landing in Teguc is quite the ride. Check it out here.)
My good Friend, Luis Carrion (pictured between Hewitt and me) met us at the airport and informed me that he had scheduled for me to preach at a youth service that night. The name of the church where the service would be was Harvest of Jesus Ministry, pastored by Kevin Vargas and his wife, Nancy. The church is located in a community filled with gang violence. Before leaving for the youth service we enjoyed a spaghetti supper at Pinares Academy, a private Christian school that many of the missionaries’ kids attend. At the youth service I spoke from 1 Tim. 4:12 and gave some of my own personal testimony. It was a great time. Pastor Vargas has a wonderful church and beautiful family. He and Nancy have a special needs child. The child was only supposed to live for 3 months, but is now 6 years old. To them the child is a great blessing. When we left, Pastor Kevin and 2 of the men in his church rode in the back of Luis’s truck until we got out of the community to make sure nothing happened to us.
Sunday morning we went to Shalom Missionary Christian Community Church. The pastor, Venancio Villalobos and his wife Magaly have 8 beautiful children who all help in the ministry. Two years ago our summer missionary team did a brigade at this church. The Pastor’s then 15-year-old son befriended me and eloquently told me the vision of the church. I was impressed with him and specifically asked Luis if I could return to that church to preach. We had a great time of worship. Hewitt shared, I preached, and then we prayed over several of the church members. One young girl heard that a “gringo” was going to be speaking and came out of curiosity. It was the first time she had ever been in church. She committed her life to Jesus.
Sunday afternoon we went to The Way to Emmaus Lutheran Church. The service was beautifully liturgical. I preached again, and then Hewitt and I led the communion service. The pastor was a sweet lady named Berta Ramirez. (picture)
Sunday evening we attended an English service at CCI (Central Christian International), a large church that most of the missionaries attend. The service at CCI was a communion service followed by a Thanksgiving fellowship meal.
It was a full and blessed day, and it would only get better the next day!
The Pastors’ Conference was all day Monday (Nov. 21st). It began with a time of worship. Having 100 pastors and their spouses, workers, and missionaries in the same room was powerful. God’s Spirit was palatable. It was a holy moment. I knew my job would be easy because God was there. I taught on “Moral Leadership.”
Moral Leadership is relationship centered leadership that concentrates on the three main relationships pastors must constantly be exercising. The first relationship is with ourselves. This is the inward relationship and is summarized by the word DISCIPLINE. Second is our relationship with other people. This is the outward relationship and is summarized by the word INTEGRITY. Third is our relationship with absolute truth, values, and principles. Ultimately, this is our relationship with God; our upward relationship, and is summarized by the word HONOR. Thus, Moral Leadership is characterized by discipline, integrity, and honor.
I was humbled by the response I received from the pastors. I was overwhelmed by the grace and Spirit of God that I felt moving through me. I am forever changed by what I experienced. I pray each pastor is forever changed as well.
1. I am taller (and bigger) than all the Hondurans. They call me Gringo Grande. Which, from what I can tell, is better than being called Gringo Gordo.
2. If the last will be first and the first will be last, then I had the privilege of speaking to the most important people in the Kingdom of God. Those pastors are truly my heroes.
3. God is as real today as He has ever been.
4. The local church (in Honduras and in the states and everywhere in the world) truly is the only hope the world has.
5. I am more excited now about ministry then I have ever been in my life.
6. God’s power is more clearly seen in poverty, not prosperity.
Tuesday morning, Hewitt and I returned to the States. After a few delays we arrived safely to our homes around midnight.