Thursday, October 20, 2016

Planes, hurricanes, and tropical diseases

Wow - this blog has certainly been quiet, recently! I am here now, however, prepared to offer explanations/excuses.

Back at the end of September, with my departure date (for my trip to the US) unexpectedly moved forward, I was rushing to prepare, and then it was time to travel! Though you can get from Gracias to San Pedro Sula in three hours and you can fly from San Pedro Sula to Orlando in about that same amount of time . . . for various reasons my travel day started at 4:30am, and ended at midnight! I was one tired missionary at the end of that day!

Immediately upon my arrival in Florida the concerns regarding a hit from Hurricane Matthew began reaching a high intensity. Coincidence? Some may think otherwise  . . . hmmmmmm? We decided we'd better make some preparations, and we hunkered down while the storm approached and passed on to the north.

We were staying in Orlando, where things weren't likely to get very bad, though there was still some risk. Because the storm track shifted to the east, Orlando was spared any significant problems. However, we had intended to spend time with friends and supporters over on the east coast of Florida, and those folks, while praising God that the situation wasn't worse, still had a significant amount of damage and mess to clean up. It wasn't a good time for them to visit with us, so . . .

We packed up on the spur of the moment, traveled all the way across Florida to the other coast, and spent a few days mixing delight with frustration, as we visited with my parents and two of our kids, and also prepared and filed our taxes. Yuck! (In case you're wondering about the timing - US citizens living internationally get an automatic filing extension.)

None of this left much time for working on the blog!

This past Saturday, the 15th, we scheduled a return trip back across Florida - leaving the Gulf Coast early, traveling to Lakeland, where we met up with friends of the ministry who'd collected a pallet-load of spiral-bound notebooks for us, caravanned with them to Winter Springs, to pick up toothbrushes, toothpaste, and blankets donated by other friends, and continued on to New Smyrna Beach. There we added these items to the rest of the donations which had previously been collected, to ship to Honduras. That was a big day; we were already feeling the pressure to make the most of the remainder of our available days in Florida. But then . . .

Sunday night I became very sick - a recurrence of an illness I've had multiple times over the past few years. The high fevers and chills usually abate within about a week, so we decided to lie low for a few days while Allen nursed me and continued working on ministry arrangements, involving dozens of phone calls. (We believe the recurrent illness is a form of malaria - not anything contagious by contact. No one else in my family ever gets it, just lucky me. I'll try to get a blood test done, and meds to kill whatever-it-is for good, the next time I'm sick with this while in Honduras. It's hard and expensive to get it done in the US.)

Today (Thursday), as Allen travels to Gainesville Florida to pick up additional boxes (for the feeding centers) to ship in the container, I am finally feeling much better - enough so that I'm even writing a blog post!

I won't guarantee that the blog won't go quiet again - we're keeping busy, and we'll spend a part of this next week loading a container, and another part driving from Florida to Maryland - but I am hopeful that there will be no more incidents involving huge named storms or strange tropical diseases to disrupt things! Please pray with us that this will be the case!

- posted by Trish

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Benefits of Indigenous Pastors - part two

Part one can be found here. 

When we left off, Allen was enlightening us with his thoughts on indigenous pastors and the best ways to reach the unreached people in the remote villages of Honduras. In doing this, he made some necessary comparisons between North American missionaries and indigenous pastors.

Here are a few more of those thoughts:

North American Missionaries Are Better Educated.

This is true. The average missionary arrives from North America with a college degree, and, most likely, a seminary degree. The indigenous pastors of Honduras are most definitely not as well educated. Of course, neither are the congregations. Allen is a proponent of providing training and education for the indigenous pastors. As he said, “It is NOT okay for indigenous pastors to have faulty theology. So we teach them.” Maybe we don’t need extra baggage to minister to people with a 3rd grade education.

Everything doesn’t have to be complicated. Allen points out that he is seeing a shift among many U.S. churches, as well. He’s seeing churches that are returning to the basics. There’s a trend to not get bogged down over whether someone is a premillennialist, postmillennialist, or amillennialist. As Allen put it so simply, “God loves us. Do we love Him? Do we love our neighbor?”

Utilizing Indigenous Pastors Is Economical.

It is standard practice for a North American missionary to raise support for living expenses. By the time you figure in things such as insurance and a retirement plan, it is expected for a gringo missionary to require $3,000-$5,000 per month in support. That’s not to imply they are living an extravagant lifestyle, but let’s compare that to indigenous pastors.

It is customary, in the mountain villages, for each pastor’s congregation to provide him with a stipend. $5 per month is typical. Just as the apostle Paul earned his own way through tent making, these pastors work in local fields to provide for their families.
While many well-known charities pay their indigenous pastors, teachers, and feeding center cooks, Sowers4Pastors does not hire and pay the people who work in their feeding centers. Allen compared paying the teachers and cooks to a U.S. church paying its Sunday school teachers. They work because they want to help their community.

Let’s Look at Success Rates.

Pastor Omar preaching, playing, and delighting
his congregation!
Did you know that when foreign missionaries plant new churches, there is only about a 50% success rate? In a church plant in the mountains of Honduras, it is unrealistic to think a foreign missionary pastor will be there indefinitely . . . and when a missionary leaves, for whatever reason--furlough, illness, to raise support, etc…--the newly planted churches tend to fall apart.

On the other hand, the success rate of churches started by indigenous pastors is much higher than 50%. Even when that pastor moves on, the odds of long-term success are much great than for churches started by a gringo. With an indigenous pastor, the congregation has a sense of ownership. It is their church rather than the gringo missionary’s church.

Ministering to the Needs

When an indigenous person goes to a gringo for counseling, there is a tendency for the person in need to begin seeing the pastor as their source of help - a “little god.” Allen feels that may be because the gringo is often more highly educated and better funded. At any rate, he is often placed at an elevated status.

When an indigenous person approaches an indigenous pastor with a problem, the pastor is seen as “one of their own,” resulting in less hero worship. The person in need can more clearly see that their hope is in Christ.


As mentioned in a previous post, Allen is not criticizing the work done by North American missionaries. He is one, after all! He would simply like for people to consider the best way to reach the most people with the resources available.