Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The kingdom of heaven is like...

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says over and over, "the kingdom of heaven is like..."   Do you ever wonder what the kingdom of heaven is like in our world today?

Last week the kingdom of heaven was like the annual Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church (MPPC) employee luncheon held to celebrate the hard working staff at our Children's Home.  It is always lovely, something the staff looks forward to.

This year, however, was different.  The morning started with a disaster as I learned that there had been a misunderstanding about the date and almost none of the staff was there.  I was in a panic, wondering how I would tell the team.  In a moment of lucidity, I prayed, "Lord, please redeem this day." Staff members, Samuel and Oneyda, got on the phone to call the local staff members to return for lunch.  I found Mengui and asked him to go with me to invite our neighbors to join us.  We went door to door up the dirt road next to our property inviting them (at the last minute) to lunch.  We had no idea if they would come or how many people would attend the lunch.  Shelley, the team leader, was so gracious when I finally confessed the mix-up.  "The right number of people will be here."



At noon, the church porch was set up and we waited.  The on-duty staff appeared.  One by one the local staff returned.  Just as I was about to give up on the neighbors I looked out and saw the family who live by the gate approaching, all dressed up! Pretty soon, all the neighbors were there and we had to get an extra table! (Thanks Debbie and Steve!)  As always, it was a great event with good food (thanks, Judith!,) good service (thanks MPPC servers!,) lots of fun (thanks Mengui, Georgia, and Dawn for dancing!,) fellowship (thanks Solo Por Hoy band!,) and,worship (thanks, Holy Spirit!)  My prayer for redemption had been answered!





The right number of people were there!

What made this year special was the inclusion of our neighbors. What started out as a last minute effort to fill the tables has become the beginning of a new tradition.  My favorite part of the lunch was seeing how happy the neighbors were to be included in the LAMB family and how happy everyone was to be together:


"Abuelita!" Everyone's grandmother

When you get a group of Hondurans together, for what ever purpose, inevitably, worship breaks out.  Mengui and Angel took charge and led the impromptu but beautiful worship.  






Mengui invited people to come up and receive prayer.  Bienvenido's (who died about a month ago) mother came up along with "Abuelita," the grandmother who lives next to our gate.  Abuelita got down on her knees to receive our laying on of hands and prayer. 
 

This luncheon is what the kingdom of God looks like.

And it sounds like this as American voices from Holy Spirit, two weeks ago, mingled with Honduran voices:

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 
Matthew 10:7




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Keep them in

I have been seeing a lot of news, opinions, memes, etc about people entering the US illegally.  I read about a variety of actions the US government could take from programs to legalizing certain types of people (those with jobs, "dreamers," etc) to building walls and deporting thousands.  I have a
different solution to the immigration situation.  Instead of "keep them out" I will call it "keep them in."  By that I mean keep the young men and women in Honduras.  

Homes with bags of plastic bottles to sell
for 25 cents a pound, their only means of support.
In my 6.5 years as a missionary in Honduras, I have seen that people don't really want to leave their families and their country (and the Honduran food!)  What they do want is to provide for them to "sigue adelante" or move ahead in life.  However, the conditions in Honduras are desperate.  There are no jobs, only 13% of children finish high school, urban children live in dysfunctional homes in violent neighborhoods. The government offers no help or relief. People will do anything to provide for their families, even risk their lives to go to the US and find work and support for their families.


At LAMB, we want to keep the youth and the hope they represent here.  They are Honduras' greatest resource. Consider these contrasts:
Emanuel is a scholarship student at our school who was being trained to be a drug mule by his gang parents.  Here he is leading a prayer at the school devotional.  He is also a member of our Alonzo Movement and now living with his grandmother, safe and loved. 



This is a gang member sought by the police for robbery.  Boys from impoverished barrios and from dysfunctional families are prime recruiting targets for gangs.  In a country with over 50% unemployment the offer of a "job" (drug running, extortion, robbery) and a community of "family" (the gang) is irresistible.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Eduardo (an alias for his protection) was abandoned by his mother and bounced around state run children's homes (nothing like ours) until he finally ran away.  Somehow, at 15 he arrived in LA without documentation or any education.  15 year old Eduardo fights for his life in ICU in Los Angeles.  He has never experience a stable home, a loving family, or hope for a bright future.  If he survives, what will his future be?


Mirza, a beautiful young woman from our Children's Home, is studying medicine with a scholarship as part of our transition program. One day, Dr. Mirza will be helping her fellow Hondurans.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Michael is 11.  He sells nuts along the highway for food. His clothes are dirty and he only wears flip flops.  What are his prospects?  Graduating from high school, learning a trade, going to university are not realistic options for him and children like him.  
These boys pray at their Alonzo Movement Club meeting.  We encourage them to dream big, have goals, and work to achieve them. The Alonzo kids are choosing life over gangs and drugs.


Help "keep them in" by providing hope through education. At LAMB, our daycare program gives life to the highest risk toddlers and pre-schoolers.  Our school provides outstanding academic and spiritual education to poor children.  The Alonzo Movement provides a loving community, spiritual formation and scholarships to high school and university to teenagers.  Our Children's Home protects and loves children whose families can't.  All these children are on a path to stay in Honduras and lead Christ filled, productive lives, start and provide for loving families, and one by one, break the cycle of despair and poverty.


Click here to have your gift doubled in our Dream Big campaign.  Donations up to $10,000 will be matched 
for scholarships for our children.   

Keep them in and help make their dreams come true! 

Dream Big!




Thursday, July 13, 2017

Something beautiful

Suzy had been longing to get back into urban ministry.  Not long ago, she was driving down the main street in Flor del Campo, a route she takes often to go to our school, when she saw a small house for rent right across the street from the "cancha" - the large soccer field.  She stopped to write down the phone number on the for rent sign, drove home and called the number.  Next thing she knew she had rented the small house.  Why? She didn't really know.  All she knew was she had to rent that small house.  In April, Suzy wrote:
Arely and Evelyn met me at the Little Green House.  We walked through it (which takes about two seconds), talked about possibilities, and then prayed together that it would be a place of peace and joy and growth.  We invited the Holy Spirit to make His home there.  
Suzy had already told the children at the Children's Home about the house and invited them to participate in the transformation of the house.
I shared with them how I feel that it is a Kingdom initiative because so many of them came to us from Flor del Campo, and now they can go back as God's ambassadors.  Now they have the best Gift of all to offer  others.  We are going to paint murals on the front of the house. 
Now the house is inviting and draws attention to itself with the message, "Something beautiful happens here."

Finally we were ready to have the grand opening of the newly named "Casa de Oracion." (House of Prayer)  The open invitation to the grand opening was for 5 - 8 pm.  We got there early to get everything ship shape! 

Julio and Sallie mopped
the floors
Ladies prepared
a ton of naca tamales
Debbie and Steve
brought a huge cake

We had no idea who or how many people would come.  We joked that the party was scheduled to start at 5 but, knowing the Honduran culture, people would start arriving at 6!  Imagine our surprise when the room started filling up at 4:45!  
 

Soon both of the rooms in the house were full and the front porch was too.  I was moved that most of the women there were from La Cantera, where the poorest of the poor live, where the gangs rule and where prayer is much needed. Ladies from David and Evelyn's church, Amor Fe Vida (Love, Faith, Life) made a huge tub full of delicious naca tamales.  No one knew how many people would come.  As people arrived, we delivered plates of naca tamales and a drink. I started to worry that we would run out.  Some (mostly men) were too shy to come in the house so we fed them just inside the fence or on the street.  The naca tamales kept coming.  Then, the big blue bus with the Children's Home kids arrived.  Uh,oh, I thought, we won't have any food left for them.  The naca tamales kept coming!  As I went to get more plates I commented to the ladies, "this is just like the loaves and fishes!"  They agreed!  We ended up having exactly enough to feed everyone who came by for food.  Miracle!

The program was wonderful.  It wasn't planned minute by minute and beautiful spontaneous worship, prayer, fellowship and music happened.  Suzy's message that the House of Prayer is for everyone, not one church or another, that we all love Jesus and we are here to listen, to pray, and to be community resonated with all. 





Suzy and Evelyn invited the Holy Spirit and He came...and remains