He who despises his neighbor sins,
but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
Proverbs 14:21 (NIV)
Two weeks ago I was changing out of my pj’s when I heard a knock on the door. It was just past 7 AM. Don (Spanish for mister) Richard, a pastor friend was standing at my door with a question: “I’ve got a small team of doctors that would like to host a medical brigade today in your area and we thought of you.” Doubts flooded my head – I’ve got other commitments, plans for the day and there hasn’t been any advertising. “Okay,” I said, “Let’s see what God will do.” A few hours later two nurse practitioners and some assistants, a couple translators and a children’s ministry team of minimal Spanish speakers arrived at the Ranch.
|Passing the time at the brigade with futbol
As the day unfolded, God drew those who needed medical attention and many new faces and faces that have been long absent to Rancho Oasis appeared. Free medical consultation and medicine draw people out of the woodwork. I was amazed to hear that 130+ people were seen from roughly 9:30 AM until 4:30 PM. It was awesome and we were blessed to see God move.
|Families heard the gospel message & received bracelets while waiting
As a full-time missionary, I’m always reflecting on how we can do things differently, be more effective and efficient for the people that we serve. On one hand, medical brigades are a HUGE draw. People in Honduras have so many needs and health is a major concern, let alone the cost of medicine. Generous, loving groups, groups like this one, come for one day, see immediate results and are blessed. Yet, what happens when the free prescription runs out? How many of these medical issues could have been resolved with a proper understanding of hygiene and health, as well as a change in diet? Though an immediate blessing for many bound in poverty, how often does this create a means of dependency, rather than a desire to improve one’s own life/health?
|Inside the church: patient consultation, pharmacy and more patient waiting
These are heavy questions that must be answered by serious prayer. Marillyn and I have brainstormed different ways to address these needs – we want to have health, hygiene and cooking/diet classes, but we lack the people power to put them on. A potential solution could be to have a medical brigade that requires people to first take a class on these three major issues. It would take a serious change in mind set, one that would not place emphasis on numbers of patients seen in a day, but on slow, thoughtful, one-on-one instruction that challenges people to change & ultimately improve their lives. It would flow better with the long-term ministry goals of Rancho Oasis and have a life-long impact on the people. Medical brigades are a blessing, but for most only a band aid to the health issues they face.
|Unashamed Missions Team
Well, the next morning comes around and Dorian, one of the interpreters from the brigade arrives at the Ranch and asks to use our “land-line” phone. “Not a problem,” I said. “What are you doing?”
“We’re building a house for your neighbors and I needed to confirm where to drop off the lumber.”
Wow, what an immediate answer to prayer. Mare and I were literally just talking about how to minister to the needs of the family that moved in next door to us. (Basically, they’re legal squatters). I knew God had called us to minister to them, but I barely knew them. Though their physical need was obvious, I had no idea of their spiritual need. As a minister in this immediate area, my goal is to see people come to Christ and mature in this relationship. So, how does giving a family a house help them meet Jesus?
|Our Neighbors shack
Dorian and I began talking (in Spanish) and I began to share my heart and concern of simply giving this family a home without knowing them. Would they be grateful? Would this produce an awe in them in who God is or create a lazy, “I’m going to sit around and wait for others to help me” attitude? I couldn't help but think of the nine ungrateful lepers (Luke 17).
Dorian’s jaw dropped as we talked. He said that he had some of the same concerns, but had never heard a Gringo share them. He is also a pastor in Santa Ana and he has seen the positive and negative fruit produced in people’s lives when they get a “free” house.
I told him that I would like to meet with the family and set up an agreement that if Dorian’s crew comes to help build them a house, they would show their gratitude by helping us with the ministry at Rancho Oasis. I told Dorian that it was kinda like salvation. It’s free and we can never pay God back; however, we give God our lives in response to His grace & mercy. (2Corinthians 5:15) So, this family is barely scrapping by for food, they could never payback the house, but they do have health, youth and the ability to work (even if they can’t find a job).
|Oscar on his mom's lot
He liked it. So, in response, Dorian asked if I knew of anyone else in the area that could use a house. “Yeah,” I said. “He’s right there in the stable turning the compost.”
Dorian and I approached Oscar with a new excitement. “Was this really happening?,” I thought.
|3 Walls up, 1 to go
“So, Oscar. How would you like it if my friend Dorian here, builds your mom a new house today?” With hands raised and tears swelling in his eye Oscar said, “Praise you, Jesus!”
So, by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the crew of 20 or so were done and Oscar’s mom had a new home to live in.
|Completed house & team
Honestly, I felt a little guilty about it. The family behind us had a greater, visible need than Oscar’s mom, but there wasn’t a peace in my spirit. My guilt was washed away by God’s peace as I remembered Catalina’s need and the 6 weeks that Oscar and I had been praying for the home. Catalina has been widowed twice and was living in a rental that is falling apart several hours from Ojojona. Oscar’s heart was to have mom close to take care of her, a biblical response. (Mark 7) He regularly visits her and gives her money, but what a blessing to have her live a five minute walk from his home. God is so good!
|Marisela & some kids
Well, I followed up with my neighbors a few days later to talk to them about the possibility of building them a home. I learned of Marisela’s condition. She was abandoned by her husband about a year ago and has been living with family in Tegus. She recently moved with her six kids (16 years to 12 months) to Ojojona and has been living with her sister’s family. The brother-in-law gifted her the corner property and they’ve been living in the shack for the last three weeks.
|The humblest of homes
Oscar and I shared the gospel with Marisela via the Roman’s Road and discussed with her my idea about helping the Ranch. She said a few weeks earlier she had given her life to Christ at a church in Tegus. She is a very shy woman, not given to much conversation, but her 14 year old daughter immediately said yes! With Oscar’s help, we talked to Marisela and she willingly agreed to show her gratitude by helping.
|Stick bed, plastic roof and mud stove
We are still waiting for the house and have building plans tentatively lined up for the first week of August. I’m excited for the opportunity to minister, especially with the teens. None of the kids are in school and none of them can read. 12 and 14 year old girls – what an opportunity to minister to them via education, work and bible study!
So, in short, this has been a new lesson for me in the mission field. I have a greater desire to work cohesively with missions teams and to have them help accomplish our long term goals for Rancho Oasis and the Kingdom of God.
Pray that God would continue to bring the resources of the North American missions teams to Honduras to equip and build the kingdom of God amongst the poorest of the poor.
Pray that God would give me and all the other missionaries insight in how to best use these resources for change: physically, economically, mentally and spiritually.
Thank you teams for your investment in Rancho Oasis, the people of Ojojona and God’s kingdom abroad!