In His Service

Wow! I just returned from our “whirlwind tour” of the BMDMI ministries in Honduras. Although I sensed God speaking to me during last summer’s short stay at the Good Shepherd Children’s Home (GSCH), He more fully opened my eyes and heart to what He wants to accomplish in the lives of the poor and hurting of Honduras through those He’s called to be His hands and feet.

With each ministry Christy and I visited, we witnessed first-hand His messengers of love obediently and compassionately ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of those less fortunate. Surely Christ had these full-time missionaries and short-term volunteers in mind when He said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…whatever you did for one of the least of these   brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

In just a short week’s stay we witnessed how BMDMI put Jesus’ words to action as follows: We saw thirty-six boxes of food given to a pastor through BMDMI’s Feed the Shepherds Program for his family’s use and to share with his congregation. We rode along as a donation of beans and rice was made at the home of a very needy family upon returning the elderly grandfather who was to have surgery the next day at the BMDMI hospital in Guaimaca. One of the women also gave small gifts to the children. We saw  water being sanitized for drinking (even though it still looked like bayou water) at an elementary school near Siguatepeque. (Clean water is a scarcity in most of Honduras.) The hospital has a water well on property, a storage tank and a pick-up truck outfitted with a 350-gallon tank used to provide clean, safe water to schools and neighborhoods in Guaimaca. They do this most days of the week, but unfortunately not the two days we were there. We met two sisters, an infant and an 8-year-old (who had never been in school), who’d arrived at the Children’s Home only the day before. We watched the 8-year-old beaming with joy as she displayed her new “ropa” (clothes) and stuffed animal she’d just received from GSCH supplies, and we held the infant who cried almost incessantly, probably due to a yet untreated physical distress and her unfamiliar surroundings and caregivers. We understand the infant has since celebrated her first birthday at the Home and is doing much better. We toured the Educafé in Siguatepeque where people from the community are invited (for a nominal fee to encourage ownership of the opportunity) to participate in an online educational program to improve their employment prospects. (Most Hondurans don’t have access to free public education beyond the 6th grade.) We also toured a transition home for girls who have recently left the GSCH. At this home the girls are assisted in finding employment and housing and are taught independent living skills. A similar transition home for boys is operated in Tegucigalpa and, although we didn’t get to visit it, we heard several of its success stories. We toured the BMDMI Bible Institute where young men are taken in, housed and trained to minister as pastors, deacons, church leaders and Sunday School teachers. They’re also offered vocational training as welders on site to assist them in providing for their families because most Honduran pastors are bi-vocational. The Good Shepherd Children’s Academy (on the grounds of GSCH) is impressive, teaching over 120 preschoolers through 9th graders from GSCH and the neighboring community. The dedicated staff offer bilingual and vocational education, lots of extracurricular opportunities, and present the gospel. We saw end-of-semester sports competitions and proud students’ presentations demonstrating what they’d learned through crafts, song, and displays. While at the hospital in Guaimaca we saw the 33 member short-term surgical mission team unload, sort, and shelve 220 boxes of donated medical supplies and equipment and prepare examining, pre-op, operating, post-op, and recovery rooms for the week ahead. On Monday, from 7:00AM to 9:45PM, they screened 164 people to determine their suitability for surgery that week. It was truly amazing to see these doctors, nurses, med students, support personnel and translators (many of whom were meeting for the first time) jump into action and perform so efficiently and enthusiastically. Some literally had to be reminded to take breaks to hydrate (there is no air-conditioning), use the restroom and eat. In the days that followed Christy’s and my departure, they performed 81 major and 3 minor surgeries, saw 24 dental patients, and distributed water to 30 homes. I also had the privilege of accompanying a “seasoned evangelist” for a short time in door-to-door evangelism in the streets and homes of Guaimaca. In all there were 63 professions of faith for the week and 360 bibles distributed. To God be the glory!

During our stay, we received advice and words of encouragement from so many.  Besides their wisdom and encouragement, many shared their own doubts, struggles, passions and heartbreaks, sometimes through tear-filled eyes. Keep in mind many of these are serving in areas of ministry unrelated to their prior skill sets and well beyond their comfort zones. Some had only just begun their journey, others had years of obedient service to the ministry. They shared their troubles with separation from family and friends back home, the adjustment to a very different culture, frustration with not being adept at the language, finding “their place” in the mission, finding adequate schooling for their kids, the absence of close-knit church fellowship and spiritual nourishment, safe housing, and transportation among many other issues. Knowing that Satan will “ratchet-up” his attacks on us, they truly wanted us to be as prepared as possible for the journey that lies ahead. But they also shared their successes, how lives were changed, the friendships made, the adventures, and how God so often “showed up” and made great things happen. I know we’ve gained much prayer support, trust many of these wonderful people will be our support system when we arrive “in country,” and pray we’ve made lasting friendships.

I find it interesting that throughout our visit, although we encountered persons from numerous denominational affiliations, I never heard any “one-upmanship,” “turf-wars,” or “There was a Baptist, a Pentecostal, and a Catholic” jokes among the differing believers. That was refreshing! It was the body of Christ, God’s global church, in unity of faith, empowered by the same Spirit, testifying to the good news of God’s grace to the ends of the earth.

Aside from just having Christy visit the country and the both of us becoming more familiar with BMDMI’s ministries there, my hope for this trip was that God would clearly speak to us regarding specifically where He would have us serve. Beforehand, I felt God was leading me to be involved in some capacity with the GSCH and it seems as though He may have confirmed this through Christy’s experience there. Trisha shared her vision/thoughts about the potential for future children’s homes in other areas or possibly some sort of separation of the children according to age or gender. I’m sure God has a plan, He just hasn’t completely let us in on it yet. Of course, there’s still at least a year and a half to two years before we reach the field and a lot can happen in that time. And there are so many needs there – corrupt government officials, poor infrastructure and public services (health care and education especially) and extreme underemployment and poverty rob the hope from most, leading to innumerable men trapped in addiction, women and children subjected to terrible abuse, countless kids begging and peddling goods in the streets (or even worse, abandoned), widespread crime, and extensive gang activity. I must confess I was quite surprised and impressed with the magnitude of what BMDMI is doing and accomplishing there. However God intends to use us, we’re pumped and can’t wait to be a part of serving with so many who love the Lord so dearly and sacrifice so much to make that part of the world a better place.

In His Service,

Eric Duplantis