EL TABLON, HONDURAS — Pastor
Benjamin pulled the photo out from between the pages of his Bible and before he
could flip to the next photo the Greenes were wiping away tears. Mike and
Ginger’s daughter Stephanie is now a senior in college and she hardly recognized
herself in the eight-year-old photo, back when the Greenes (now North Carolina
Baptist Men on-site coordinators) worked with Deep Impact to build a building
for Iglesia Bautista Restauracion. The building took several years to complete,
but the congregation of about 45 has moved in and children, youth and adults
gather together each Sunday to worship.
During the Deep Impact week
in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, high school students, college students and youth
leaders made the village of El Tablon and Restauracion church a focus of
ministry. One team did Bible studies, games and crafts in a public school just
down the street from the church and another team set up a free medical clinic
at the church.
Pastor Benjamin remembers
when the spot where the church building now sits was empty.
His dad was a member of the
church that bought the property, which for 11 years sat abandoned. Finally, his
dad helped lead the charge to get a ministry started in El Tablon. When
Benjamin’s dad died last September, Benjamin stepped up to help lead the
Benjamin lived in Choluteca
until age 18, when he moved to Tegucigalpa. His enjoys teaching the
congregation and wants to help them learn that “it’s the job of everyone” to be
on mission for God. Benjamin grew up in a Christian home and received Jesus
Christ as his personal Lord and Savior during a Vacation Bible School.
Several students at the
school in El Tablon prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and
Savior during the Vacation Bible School led by Deep Impact participants.
One day during the week the
Bible study was about prayer and the team asked the students to write down
specific prayer requests. Some students asked the team to pray that they would
have food to eat. One student prayed for his dad to come home. Other students
asked how they could know Jesus Christ.
The students at the school
don’t have much. They give their full attention to simple crafts and coloring
sheets because they rarely see them. Just listening to their excitement playing
soccer and one would never know they were playing on a cement slab full of
cracks with no nets for the soccer goals. The classrooms are simple, with white
walls, exposed wooden beams, nothing for decoration except a few faded posters
and a few vocabulary words, and no air-conditioning. One room didn’t have
If the students mind, they
certainly don’t show it. Nor does Benjamin’s congregation seem to mind
worshipping in a building without pews, or a choir loft, or stained glass
windows, or even a bathroom. None of that matters to them. They shout praises
to God and worship as if this Sunday may be their last Sunday.
The church sits at the top
of a hill, past the school with its thick black gate and wrought iron looking
bars over all the windows. The road is dirt and gravel, the homes close to the
school hardly looking like homes at all with their tin roofs and structures
that seemed to be made out of whatever material people could find.
But the landscape is
breathtaking. Walk around to the back of the church and as far as the eye can
see are lush, rolling green mountaintops. Tegucigalpa sits in the bottom of a
bowl with mountains on every side. On the way to the school, driving through
curve after curve and looking down below at the brightly colored buildings,
homes and mountains that seem to go on forever underneath the earth, it seems
unfair for such extreme poverty to exist in the midst of such beauty.
Yet, pastor Benjamin and
those who gather each week for worship in El Tablon bring a beauty to their
village that may very well surpass the grandeur of the mountainous terrain.
Brothers and sisters run and play together outside the church before service
starts. An older woman sitting in the back of the church takes the hands of a
child sitting next to her on her mother’s lap and helps her make the hand
motions to the song.
A young girl makes her way
up and down each row, shaking the hands of the Deep Impact team members joining
them for worship. When the church begins the service singing “How Great is our
God,” there is no doubt that they truly know what it means to rely on God for
even the most basic needs — and they still proclaim how great is the Lord God.