with thousands of twinkling lights sown into the mountains like candles on a birthday cake, tegucigalpa is a beautiful sight at night. but while driving back to our safe and comfortable mission house last week in central america, i knew why i loved the sight of those lights against the darkness of the city.
poverty is ugly.
poverty is more than cute little kids who just need a piece of bread and a hug. (though there are a lot of these) i really wanted that to be the entire reality. i think many of us do. but the call of Christ is not safe. thats why we have to take up our cross daily to spread His Gospel to the Least Of These, because with poverty comes murder and thievery. poverty breeds disease and death. it produces sexual assault and slavery. prostitution and drug abuse. poverty destroys hope and futures; its so much more than simply having no money.
that night, driving to the mission house, was beautiful to me because the darkness veiled the ugly in the city, leaving only a familiar glow of amber, flickering on the mountainsides.
i dont know a lot about Gods call on my life, but i know my heart aches for the children i met there. theres a village about an hour outside teguc, called el naranja. some friends of ours provide care for the children of this village through a program that gives out cookies containing all the vitamins and nutrients the children need in a day. they also provide small clinics and classes in hygiene and english for the kids.
i had the privilege of playing with these children. they all enthusiastically told me their names and how old they were. (because thats about all i was able to ask them) they loved the attention. we held hands as we walked up the dirt paths. Mario and Kayla told me that they were all provided with shoes, once a year, through the program, but as soon as they get home from school they are barefooted again. it sounded cute to me then, but Kayla then told me that because they dont wear shoes the children are much more susceptible to parasites. combine that with poor cleanliness all around... what she told me next ive been trying to forget ever since. last year they gave all the kids of the village worming medication to kill the parasites. about 100 children. she said the worms were fleeing out of the childrens mouths.
this village is also a home for drug traffickers and dealers that supply the the area with narcotics and violence.
but now let me tell you of the beauty there.
the Gospel is being spread in this country. mission teams and churches throughout the country are showing these people the love of Christ and the work is selfless and spirit-led.
there is a church in the city called, Iglesia Baptista Renecer. the pastor is a great man of God and his church is thriving. im overwhelmed by their worship and love. the church is active in the surrounding villages, bring funds, labor, and the Gospel to them on a regular basis.
Compassion International is a child sponsorship program that "Releases Children From Poverty In Jesus' Name". and thats not just a slogan. about three years ago i began sponsoring Olvin Ronaldo Rosa Benitez through the Compassion program. we write letters to each other and i donate the money needed to keep him in the program that provides health care, education, and most importantly, the Gospel being taught to him. last week i met Olvin.
with Compassion's help, i arranged a day in Tegucigalpa for us to meet face to face. the experience was unforgettable. i was able to see, first hand, how the ugliness of poverty can be removed from a family and the light of Christ left to shine. check out the pictures from my visit, here.