It is reported that Christopher Columbus...
It is reported that Christopher Columbus, when he first sighted that landfall, exclaimed: “Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de esas honduras!”—”Thank God we have come out of those depths!” And it stuck—that word “depths”—becoming the proud name of the glorious land from which we’ve just returned. Honduras. From its jungled mountain peaks above 9000 feet to its white-sanded coastline, from its sprawling estates for the wealthy to its impoverished barrios for the masses, this nation of seven million is a dramatic study in contrasts.
Spiritual contrasts, too. Which is why a team of fifteen of us—all of us bound together by the sap and branches of the same family tree (Watts-Nelson)—flew into La Ceiba (Honduras’ third largest city) a few weeks ago on a humanitarian-medical-evangelistic mission on behalf of the global ministry, The Quiet Hour. The strategy was simple: conduct daily medical-dental clinics in the city, followed by simultaneous nightly evangelistic meetings at five different sites. Which meant that morning and evening, we communicated in “the language of heaven” (to quote that familiar piece of Hispanic pride) through our medical and evangelistic partners, our translators.
And may I humbly observe that when it comes to a passion for growing the kingdom of Christ on earth, our Honduran brothers and sisters are without peer! I was assigned the sports arena in downtown La Ceiba. And each evening as I watched the busses drive in with men, women and children from across the city, I couldn’t help but marvel, not only at the eagerness of the crowd to attend a religious event, but at the indefatigable commitment of the pastors and church members to reach those newcomers night after night. My assignment was to preach a “decision” sermon each evening (one that ended with an appeal to accept Christ as Savior, to follow him as Lord, and to be baptized) that concluded with an altar call. An altar call over five or ten minutes here at Pioneer means we start fidgeting with discomfort. But our altar calls there in La Ceiba (at all our sites) would often last thirty to forty-five minutes! And the people responded. In fact, a large swimming pool at the front of the arena just below our preaching platform became a baptistery at the close of every sermon. Some of those baptized had made their decision previous to that evening—but there were many who made a decision in that arena, came forward, and were baptized on the spot—just like Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8! It was a sight to behold. Sometimes I just stood there in awe at the moving of the Spirit. And at the earnest appeals that both pastors and members alike would make as they moved among those who came forward, as well as among those who remained in their seats. I have never witnessed anything quite like it!
Our arena meetings became a “first” for Honduras by telecasting each evening live on a local station, owned by an Adventist family—which meant that our reach far exceeded the sports arena. One evening an “observer” sent from a popular church in town attended the meeting, was convicted by the Spirit, came forward in the altar call for the Sabbath, and was baptized then and there!
When our mission concluded, Peter Simpson, the conference president, reported that 1,053 individuals had accepted Christ and been baptized at all our sites. Somebody must have been praying! Fervent prayer teams were on site praying each night, and I know many of you were, too. Praise God and thank you. Lessons to be learned? Perhaps in another blog we can share a few. But a mission in July confirms God’s promise: “[They] went everywhere preaching the word. . . . And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:4, 8).