The 4-14 Window: A Generation that Transforms

Nearly fifty percent of the population of Honduras is under the age of eighteen, and unfortunately, these youth are facing a myriad of issues in their country. Some of the main problems include: absentee parents (many leave the country to find work or some families experience abandonment from one parent or the other), gangs recruiting children, and a general discontentment with the political situation in the country due to corruption, affecting many areas of life including the medical and educational systems. The youth are often left with little or poor guidance, only contributing to and causing the issues.

That’s why WGM-Honduras has caught the vision of the 4-14 movement. This movement, spearheaded by Youth With A Mission (YWAM), focuses on ministering to children between the ages of four and fourteen. Studies have shown that it is between these ages that people are more open and receptive to the Gospel and are more likely to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Logo.jpgWGM-Honduras partners with the Iglesia Evangélica de Santidad en Honduras (IESH) (the Evangelical Holiness Church in Honduras) and together they are working to minister to the young population. Currently, there are two avenues of work in this ministry – youth camps/training curriculum and Sunday School curriculum.

Youth Camps

The first camp was held in January 2015 in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The leaders and camp workers arrived one week early to receive training on how to run the camp and prepared for the 90 campers that arrived the following week.

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The group of volunteers that worked hard to make the first camp in January 2015 a success.

The campers came from 12 of the 18 departments of Honduras. Each day, the campers learned about one of seven “spheres” of life that the 4-14 Movement focuses on: Family, Education, Science, Art, Economy, Government, and Communications.

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Campers making jewelry on “Economy day” during the January 2015 camp.

The youth learned about worldview and how being a Christian affects how they view and live out their faith in each sphere. What a person believes, affects how they live. The campers learned a lot, grew in their faith or began a life in Christ, and had a wonderful time!

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Many campers dedicated their lives to Christ during the evening worship services. January 2015.

A second camp was held in January 2016 for the new students of Escuela El Sembrador, one of the ministries of WGM-Honduras.

Out of this camp, a 4-14 Committee consisting of Hondurans church lay leaders and WGM missionaries was formed to promote and advance this movement in Honduras. The committee uses the same training curriculum, modified to the context of the Honduran culture, to train the leaders of IESH churches around the country to hold their own camps.

Curriculum for the Children’s Ministries of Local Churches

After the camp, the 4-14 Committee saw a need in Honduras to provide further training and development for leaders and children’s ministry workers in the local churches. Therefore, the Committee has turned their attention to developing Sunday School curriculum, based on the principles of the camp materials, for continual ministry with children week after week, that the 3-days to one-week camps cannot provide. The Committee is working closely with IESH National Coordinator, Rev. Jorge Gomez, in the development of the curriculum and aligning the materials with the strategic plan of the IESH.

In talking with Claudia Bonilla, chair of the 4-14 Committee, it was hard to miss her passion and enthusiasm for ministering to children. She first became involved in the movement because her pastor signed her up to help with the first camp in January 2015. She admitted that she didn’t really know what she was getting into; however, Claudia is thankful because she can use her skills and talents in this important ministry. She has also enjoyed visiting churches in other departments of Honduras to train them with the camp training materials. She looks forward to the day when they will have the Sunday School materials ready to share with local churches around the country.

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Evening worship service during the camp at Escuela El Sembrador, January 2016.

Ethan Batschelet, WGM Missionary Disciple and 4-14 Committee Member, has also enjoyed working with the ministry. He helped extensively with the first camp and now helps guide and facilitate the 4-14 Committee.

The 4-14 Committee hopes to have the majority of the Sunday School materials ready by the end of the year 2016. In the future, they also hope to set up a fund that can provide scholarships for the Honduran youth to participate in the camps and help with school supplies.

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The January 2015 camp ended with a day of service out in the community.

The 4-14 Committee is excited and passionate to reach the youth of Honduras. It is a hard ministry with all the problems that the young people are facing, but they are excited by the blessings of the ministry they have seen so far. The Committee requests prayer for more local churches to get involved. The campers have had a wonderful time and have learned and grown in their faith, but culturally, the idea of sending children away for a 3-5 day camp is still new to many families. Additionally, several local churches currently have small or no children’s ministry. However, the Committee is expectant that their work will help the churches because it not only provides training for those involved in children’s ministry, but it will also provide Sunday school materials that the leaders can utilize in their local ministries.

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Heidi Buell is a WGM Missionary Disciple working in Honduras.

 

 

Empty Tortillas

One of the guys working on the house construction said, “Yolanda and Francisco have been eating empty tortillas”.house.JPG

Our church has been helping build a new house for Francisco and Yolanda in one of the communities where the Shalom church has been developing a church plant. A Hispanic church in the States had donated funds to help with construction materials. Church members from our Shalom Church in the city of Choluteca, Honduras were supervising the construction and local workers from the community were volunteering to help with the labor needed to build the house. With everyone working together, it would take about two and a half weeks to build a small secure cement block house.

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Francisco and Yolanda were selected by community leaders as the most economically needy people in the area. Their old adobe house had deteriorated over the years and the rainy season was about to arrive. With a leaky roof and broken down walls in the house, the couple did not look forward to enduring another rainy season.

Francisco is older and has chronic health problems. He is no longer able to work in the fields or go fishing along the coast like most of his neighbors do for a living. He and Yolanda have a few garden plants planted around their yard but it was not enough to sustain them.

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I couldn’t get the words out of my mind. I kept thinking, “They’ve been eating empty tortillas” with no beans, much less any meat to put in them. In 36 years of ministry in Honduras I had never heard hunger expressed quite that way before. I had known that the cooking stoves in rural southern Honduras are often kept cold during this time of year. By July, people in the country have finished their food reserves from the previous season’s harvest. During this time of the year, they still have not yet started harvesting the few crops that they are able to plant. During June through August, people often gather what they can find to eat from the trees nearby. There is little else available.

To make matters worse, the young people are not able to help. Many of the young people in the region work in the large agricultural farms that grow produce for export. Most of the workers are seasonal laborers who work long hours for part of the year, but are without work for long periods of time during the rest of the year. One of the local municipal leaders once commented that “a whole generation of young people in the region are losing all knowledge of how to grow their own food”.

Yolando and Francisco depend on others to give them something to eat occasionally when there is extra food in the community. Often there is very little extra to share from the neighbors. Our men from the church commented on how difficult it is to eat your lunch in front of someone who does not have food to eat themselves. When they stopped at noon-time on the first day of construction and began to eat what they had brought with them for lunch, they realized that Francisco and Yolando had nothing to eat. The fire place remained cold. Our men readily shared what they had and the next day they packed a little extra in their lunch bags.

On the day that I visited the construction site after several days of work, Yolanda and Francisco once again had a cook fire for lunch. It was only because family members had given them eight pounds of corn a couple of days earlier. That would be enough corn to make about 150 tortillas. Eight pounds of corn would not feed them for very many days. In order to get the corn, they had to walk most of the day to go pick up the grain in a neighboring village, and then turn around to carry it back home the same day.

It’s often a challenge to know how to best help the needy people around us. As Christians, we are often challenged to walk the fine line between continually giving relief aid and that of encouraging communities and local church members to find ways to help each other.

There are several ways that our regional church is attempting to help their neighbors. They are looking for sustainable solutions that are developed by local community members. Church extension workers are not only preaching in the surrounding communities now, but they are also being prepared to be effective health promoters. Health promoters are teaching nutrition classes in the communities where the church is active. At times there are vegetables grown in the community but some families have never learned to eat them. The health promoters teach families the importance of eating vegetables how to grow their own food. They then show them how to prepare the food for their families. Health promoters are also teaching families to grow new foods, like eggplant, that they never imagined would grow in the region.

Our men in the church have also been looking for ways to help others. In the years immediately following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, World Gospel Mission had helped build several homes in the region. Over the past 15 years, the church has been wanting to develop a sustainable model home project. The home needed to be secure, using locally available materials, and it needed to be cost effective. A source of funding was needed.

First, several men from our church have developed improved skills for building high quality homes using locally obtained materials. They have the skills in part from teams of university students who have come from the Ohio State University. Some teams have helped teach community development practices. Others have designed a model home that may be adapted to different client’s needs. The homes include a “healthy combo” bathroom and kitchen.

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Larry Overholt and his wife Angie have been involved in various aspects of community development in Honduras since 1982.   In this post Larry highlights the challenges found navigating between relief and development.   The Overholt’s process some of these hard and challenging issues in their blog.  What have been your challenges as you walk this fine line between relief, rehabilitation and development?

Wholistic transformation in Honduras

“We have to get involved in changing world view.”  David Hawk, Field Director from Honduras, shared about his experience with the Disciple Nations Alliance  (DNA) at last years  Compassionate Ministries Workshop held before the start of WGM’s 105th Celebration.  Listen here as David shares timeless truths and exciting ways that God is at work in the murder capital of the world.  In the next few weeks several others from the Honduras field will share how God is growing His Kingdom.

Have you been through a DNA Vision Conference or done the online training,  Coram Deo? If so, have you noticed differences in the way you view life and outreach?  How has interacting with this material changed what you do and how you do it?  We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share in the comment section below.