All 89 people representing seven North Carolina Baptist churches arrived safely home from Honduras June 29 after being in the capital city of Tegucigalpa during a military coup that overthrew the Honduran president.
Mike Sowers, (YouTube clip) who led a Deep Impact mission team for North Carolina Baptist Men, said in his office June 30 that his team never felt danger, although there were some anxious moments. He was in contact constantly with the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, which he notified of the teams’ presence as soon as it arrived in country.
During June 23-29 the Deep Impact Team, one of several large mission events coordinated by N.C. Baptist Men this summer, built a house for a widow and her four children, conducted three Bible clubs at churches and one at a school, held basketball camp at a school and a basketball evangelism team hung out at a public court. Three teams distributed 700 hygiene kits they brought with them from the states into neighborhoods.
The team is one of 21 going to Honduras this year. Though the official partnership between North Carolina and Honduras Baptists ended in 2006, teams continue to go, keeping relationships alive.
International Deep Impact youth are high school and college age. They train the first day in country, overcome their anxiety and by day three “they’re all over it,” said Sowers.
Door to door work distribution of hygiene kits resulted in 27 professions of faith, he said. Fifteen others occurred through the other outreaches.
Sowers said the team knew Hondurans were facing a referendum vote during the week they would be in the capital city. When the president fired his military chief June 24 and the other military leaders resigned in protest, Sowers started getting warnings from the embassy to stay alert.
Although the North Carolina team witnessed “heightened presence” of soldiers and an increase in military traffic, they were not forced to abandon any of their plans. In the midst of a showdown between the army and the deposed president’s supporters at the airport, the team did leave town early for the camp 20 minutes outside the city.
That was the only anxious moment for Joe Smith, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Faith, and the seven members of his church. A steady stream of information kept everyone informed and lowered anxiety.
“The trip was incredibly fantastic,” said Smith, who has been on about 20 such projects since 1993. “The kids…I don’t think they could have handled it any better.”
Young people who prayed God would permit them to lead someone to faith in Christ had their prayers answered, leading Smith to ask, “I wonder what my people back home are praying for?”
One woman came to Christ whose husband had been murdered a month earlier. Gang members often watched the young missionaries at work, but did not interfere, Smith said.
On site coordinators Steve and Elaine Stephens, who have been in country three years, were able to secure information not commonly available in the crush of communications to the Embassy.
“Everything the U.S. Embassy told us came to pass,” Sowers said, grateful for the connection and insights staff there provided.
N.C. Baptist Men’s Director Richard Brunson said experience, wisdom and connections is a big advantage that a larger mission-sending group like Baptist Men provides. “There is a constant flow of information and people on the ground know what’s going on,” he said.
On the one night the team left early for their camp, the power went out during worship. The darkness was appropriate as they started singing “Amazing Grace.”
After they sang, “I once was blind” lights came back on the instant the chorus reached, “now I see.”
“It was a reassuring sense that God was there,” Sowers said. “It allowed us to get up the next morning and go about our business and do what we were called to do.”
For other Deep Impact opportunities this summer, go here.