Monday, July 25, 2022

No Autopilot allowed - S4P Reflects and Moves Forward

Let’s begin this post with a vocabulary word. Today’s word is “autopilot.” For our use, we won’t be talking about the Merriam-Webster definition meaning an actual device used for automatically steering ships, aircraft, and spacecraft. Although that’s totally cool, and self-driving cars sound AMAZING! We’ll be talking about the state or condition in which activity of behavior is regulated automatically in a predetermined or instinctive manner. This is not a word that comes up a lot when talking about Sowers4Pastors. That’s because they don’t believe in going on autopilot to operate their ministry. They are as far removed from being on autopilot as my 2010 Ford Fusion is from being a self-driving car.

To prevent slipping into autopilot, the people behind S4P spend a lot of time praying and reflecting. In fact, they’ve spent the past 6+ months in an intensive time of reflection. They’ve asked themselves all kinds of existential questions including: What is our primary reason for being in Honduras? What are the secondary reasons? Are we spending so much time focusing on accomplishing good things that we don’t have enough time for focusing on the best things? Sowers4Pastors has not changed their goals. They are now, and have always been, about empowering indigenous pastors to evangelize, and spread the Gospel in their communities.

There was a time when S4P was getting a lot of requests to help build bridges, work on roads, and help with other municipal projects. Those are good things. No one is saying that they were wrong to work on those projects. But that was before the sponsorship programs. Time is at a premium now and Allen & Trish want to be sure the ministry stays focused on the things that have the highest impact on empowering pastors. They are also mindful of being the best stewards of their resources.

They strive to work with the pastors who are most motivated to spread the Gospel. That doesn’t mean they only work with the pastors who are planting the most churches. S4P is interested in each pastor’s heart. They want to work with people with a sincere love of God and a desire to pass that love on to their congregations. It’s important that the pastors care about the people they are serving. As a ministry, Sowers4Pastors tries to hone in on putting their effort and resources where they will make the biggest impact. Always.

Allen is a numbers guy, so it’s not unusual to read a post talking about a specific number of motorcycles provided to pastors. Or a specific number of backpacks given to children. But it’s important to remember that those numbers are all a part of a bigger plan and focus. Sowers4Pastors recently produced a new version of their ministry overview video. Take a look at it as well as the ministry overview documents. The documents will provide you with the numbers. This post is about providing you with insight into their motivation.

The Sowers family has no plans to pack up and leave Honduras. But they have always recognized the importance of looking ahead and planning for the unexpected. If they ever have to leave because of an illness, political uprising, or economic catastrophe, they want to be sure that the work they’ve done will continue to make an impact. The Bibles they have given out will still be in the hands of people in Honduras. A good number of motorcycles provided to pastors will still be out there and running. Churches will still have roofs. Pastors who have gone through training school will still have that training.

The ministry is looking to employ some upper-level Honduran staff members. They are seeking what Allen calls “Honduran missionaries” – people called to reach and empower pastors. They are also open to the possibility of employing a N. American couple, too. Sowers4Pastors is still growing. They recently added another sponsorship center through a sister church. Even as the economy is worsening, S4P is looking for ways to strengthen itself... and, God willing, even grow!

Trish emphasized, “We are trying to make sure we are looking ahead, looking around us, and looking to God. We are also realizing that our resources have been reduced and they may be reduced even more. But God has always been faithful and we have had the resources we needed when we needed them.”

- posted by Christi

Thursday, July 21, 2022

It's Team Time!

If you’re British, you may talk about “tea time.” If you’re a golfer, you can change the spelling and talk about “tee time.” If you work with Sowers4Pastors, you are much more interested in “Team Time.” S4P saw a lot of teams over the course of the spring and summer, but now they're in the final stretch - only a few more weeks to go!

In total, the visiting teams will visit almost twenty different communities. Most of the groups are VBS teams. All are groups visiting children they sponsor through sister church programs. One is from a church with a very large program (hi, Lighthouse!). Another one is visiting for two weeks–with some of the members staying for two weeks and some tag-teaming with other people and staying for either the first week or the second week (Hi, Well Worship Center!). One group was had more than 3/4s of their members under the age of twenty (Hi, LCC!).

Allen often speaks with visiting pastors about S4P’s concept of supporting missions. It’s no surprise that some people and churches think it is better to send money for missions. Other people and churches think it is better to send teams. The S4P belief is that, in a perfect world, people and churches will do both!

Sowers4Pastors wants people to come down and experience what it is they do. Allen said, “Come down. Hug your sponsored child. Bring them gifts. Visit their families. We talk about the bad roads, but it takes it to a whole different level when you visit and see the roads. You see why pastors need motorcycles. We talk about the children being poor, but you can see it with your own eyes. You can see that we are working with people who are too poor to send their kids to school. They can’t always afford to feed their kids nutritious food.”

A lot of preparation goes into making sure the teams have a great experience in Honduras. S4P wants each visit to go as smoothly as possible. At the end of their week, team members can go home and say, “That was amazing!” They might go home and say, “I wish I could be more involved.” Hopefully, they will say, “I am going to be more involved and I am so glad to know the work is still going on.”

It’s a great thing to be able to hug your sponsored child. It’s even better to know that, while you might be able to visit your child once a year, the child’s pastor and Sunday School teacher can hug that child and offer encouragement all year long! This year. And next year. And the year after that. See how that works? Team visits help N. Americans grow their understanding of missions as a whole.

People go home and want to send back resources to purchase Sunday School materials, motorcycles for pastors, church roofs, etc. People want to help feeding centers. And all of the pastors S4P can’t have sponsorship programs for, due to limited resources. Allen said, “We hope people are going home as our ambassadors. We hope they want to support not just the pastors and Sunday School teachers working with their sponsored kids, but ALL of the pastors and teachers. We want them to become involved in that big vision–the Great Commission–carrying the Gospel out to everyone. The joy of hugging their children becomes, ‘I want all of the children going to school, being fed, having medical needs taken care of, and getting hugged.’”

Allen and Trish want to stress how very excited they are to host teams. They are so appreciative of the people who take time off of work and spend their money and vacation days to support the ministry. They are thankful to the churches that send teams.

Allen summed up his thoughts by saying, “We want to fulfill this task God has given us! It’s all been said before, but that’s the idea we want to promote.”

- posted by Christi

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

He's Got You, Babe!

Most of us are probably pretty tired of talking about the economy. Some of us are even to the point of wanting to stick our fingers in our ears and loudly say, “La-la-la-la! I can’t hear you!” That is a perfectly understandable response. The good news is that this is printed so you can read the whole thing with your fingers in your ears if that makes you feel more comfortable. Also, this is not actually about the economy. Well, a little bit, but not mostly! This is about remembering that God is in the details. All of the details. Even $6 a gallon gas. To paraphrase Sonny and Cher–because when you get right down to it, the world would be a happier place if we paraphrased Sonny and Cher more often–He’s got you, Babe!

The recent dental brigade for the Manna program

Sowers4Pastors recognizes that times are getting tighter. And, yes, $6 a gallon of gas is a reality in Honduras. When you consider that the ministry travels hither and yon to remote villages in 4-wheel drive trucks, that’s a big ol’ ouchie to the budget. Trish sort of keep informal tabs on the comings and goings of other missionaries in the area. She is a member of a couple of Facebook groups for missionaries in Honduras and she knows there are seasons when people leave the country in larger than usual numbers. Typically, that happens during times of financial hardships or political unrest. It is happening now. There is no judgment toward the people selling off belongings and leaving. People leave for a variety of reasons. Some are going back to the States. Others are heading off to work in other countries. It’s just a fact that the economy does influence the ability to stay and function on the field.

The Well team doing home visits

This would be downright depressing if not for the fact that… Everybody, sing! He's got you, Babe! Allen and Trish are both currently reading through the Old Testament. You remember the OT, right? Those Israelites wandered around and God provided for them time and time again. In fact, a lot of the OT is about God reminding the Israelites about everything He did for them in the past. The conversations could be very loosely paraphrased to say, “Hey, Israelites! What’s your problem? Have you forgotten that I brought you out of Egypt? Don’t you remember when I gave you food? Um, yeah, that was all Me and I’m still here!”

Allen and Trish are spending some time remembering the things God has done for them. “Hey, Sowers4Pastors! What’s your problem? Have you forgotten about the time I took care of you when your family vehicle full of your multitude of kids broke down on the side of a deserted Honduran road at night? Don’t you remember when Trish and Ben were kidnapped and I saw you through to a happy ending? Um, yeah, that was all Me and I’m still here!”

As Trish said, “We have a long history of God getting us out of difficult pinches.” Indeed!

The kids at Arenales during the recent LCC team

While Allen and Trish are not anticipating leaving Honduras in the foreseeable future, they do still take great comfort in knowing that their ministry has concentrated on building up Honduran pastors. They have used the ministry’s resources to build the Kingdom through Pastors Training School, the motorcycle ministry, getting Bibles and other study materials into the hands of pastors, and even helping to build physical church buildings. If, for any reason, they ever have to leave, those resources will remain. It’s a comforting thought.

“The pastors we work with have such a heart for reaching their communities, and the next community, and the next,” Trish laughed.

As you go on about your day, please remember that it was true for the Israelites. It’s true for Sowers4Pastors. And just in case you need to hear this, it’s true for you. He’s got you, Babe!

- posted by Christi

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Orphanage Not Quite in Crisis

UPDATE: You can watch a video Quito did of the roof at the bottom of this post or here.

When Allen jumped onto our latest call, the first thing he said was, “We did a blog post once called ‘Orphanage in Crisis.” We need to call this one ‘Orphanage Not Quite in Crisis!’” Then there was further discussion and it was agreed that there needed to be two titles, like in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. The second title is “We’re Against Soggy Orphans.” (Thanks, Trish!)

(I don't have any photos of soggy orphans or orphanages,
so here are photos of mountains instead - Kay) 

Unless you are brand spankin’ new to Sowers4Pastors, you already know that one component of their ministry involves new roofs. Construction begins at the beginning of each dry season. Typically, the ministry does 10-12 church roofs every year, along with 1-2 school roofs. Some of these roofs are topping off new constructions. Others are replacing leaky old roofs on existing buildings. The requests for this year’s roofs have been rolling in. This year, an orphanage/children’s home approached the ministry. And, as we’ve already established, we’re against soggy orphans!

This particular orphanage, located in the city of Gracias, is for emergency care. It’s the first stop on the way to a more permanent situation, such as foster care or a long-term orphanage. It’s also a place where people take kids who are not thriving physically to receive renutrition. In the U.S., “renutrition” is a term normally reserved for people in treatment for anorexia nervosa. In Honduras, it is unfortunately needed for children who aren’t receiving adequate nutrition in their daily diets. In other words, the orphanage making the request is doing important work.

The current roof on the orphanage is deteriorating well beyond acceptable levels. It has been patched and patched again. Then there’s the little problem that the current roofing is asbestos. Allen was a little concerned about mentioning the asbestos in this post because he doesn’t want to come across as an alarmist or as being overly dramatic. So, in an effort to present a balanced picture, it is true that asbestos is a material that has been used for ages because it is a good insulator, it’s durable, and resistant to damage from fire and termites. On the other side, there’s the whole cancer risk thing, the fact that asbestos is difficult to repair, and the fact that the roof in question is so old that bits of it are flaking off and falling inside. So, there you have it. No one is trying to fear-monger, but sometimes things are just SKEERY!

The ministry is currently in the process of raising support to help fill their current requests for roofs. This is an opportunity for people to jump in and help Sowers4Pastors install not only church and school roofs, but also an orphanage roof. The price of the alloy-zinc roofing the ministry uses has doubled in the past three years. In 2019, 3-sq-ft of material cost $1. Now, even at $2 for the same amount, it still sounds like quite the bargain. Sowers4Pastors can roof a decent-sized church that can seat 250 people for $2000. That’s $8 a person. It will be a few dollars per orphan to put a leak-proof, non-cancer causing, solid roof over the heads. If you dislike soggy orphans as much as Sowers4Pastors does, please step up to donate to this orphanage that is not quite in crisis.

- posted by Christi

Friday, June 24, 2022

Summertime and the Livin' is Busy!

According to the great George Gershwin, summertime means “the livin’ is easy.” With all due respect to the musical genius, Mr. Gershwin was never a missionary in Honduras. Everyone with Sowers4Pastors can tell you that summertime means the livin’ is extra busy.

June got off to a great start as the motorcycle ministry did another batch of 19 motorcycles. Remember that motorcycles help pastors plant more churches and do their jobs more efficiently.

Allen and Trish are officially moved out of the smaller house and the keys are in Kirstin’s possession. Please note the precise wording of the previous sentence! It doesn’t say that Allen and Trish are all moved into Russell and Iris’s old home. Their belongings are there, but “moved in” would be a stretch! Trish met her goal of having everything out of the small house and having it cleaned by the time Kirstin returned from a one-week vacation. Now, they can all work on getting settled in their new digs!

Kirstin was able to enjoy a quiet week at a remote location about an hour away. It was a cabin-in-the-woods situation, but without a spooky horror movie edge to it. It was sort of a cabin/hotel setting with a restaurant. Kirstin was able to recharge just in time to move into her home.

Russell is making slow but steady progress on building the new house on the property. Completion isn’t urgent, but it will mean that Rachel and Brandy will be able to move to the property with their children. That will be nice for all concerned. Currently, the new home has a basement and the first floor walls are all about 8-feet high. As it stands now, the plan is for the new construction to be Allen and Trish’s home and for their current abode to be passed to Rachel and Brandy, since it is really too big for a couple of empty nesters.

The coffee farm guys have been spending most of their time helping out with construction, but they did recently put down a round of fertilizer. Expect more news from the farm in the future. For now, the fertilizer is doing its job.

Allen finished spending some time working on vehicles. Occasionally, some team members ride in the back of pickup trucks. That process should be a lot more enjoyable and safer with the new safety bars Allen has welded. Now, with Rachel and Kirstin's help, he's planning the backpack trip and ordering empty backpacks to be shipped out to get filled.

Rey, who is a full-time office guy with Sowers4Pastors, is in charge of selling Bibles from the Bible bookstore and keeping track of the food distribution when pastors come for supplies. Currently, Rey and Will, a S4P intern, are also working on assembling pastor appreciation gifts. That amounts to several hundred gifts, personalized according to family size and the ages of each pastor’s children. The completion of these gifts will use practically every backpack in the stockpile. While it’s always nice to know there are some backpacks in reserve, it’s even better to know that all of the backpacks are being used.

Nate and Michael hanging out with some kids during one of the recent teams

Rachel is busy organizing for all of the summer teams’ visits. There are eight teams on the summer schedule. That’s a lot of VBS programs to organize! She's been doing it while caring for her two littles while Brandy was still stuck in Tegus, but good news! While Brandy has not gotten his discharge approved, he has managed to snag a several month leave, so hopefully he will be able to help with the upcoming team season - Rachel certainly hopes not to attempt any more teams with two small boys and no husband!

To make her work possible, Rachel and her family are going to the property each day so Rachel can work with Allen. Trish is happily juggling work and some daytime grandchild duty. No, really. No one has to twist her arm to spend extra time with grandchildren! She also laughed that Rachel’s organizational skills have the ministry more organized than it has ever been.

Stay tuned for more updates!

- posted by Christi

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Backpack Trip - Making the Maximum Impact

Can you believe that it’s already time to plan the 2022 backpack trip?!! It’s sort of like how you’re never really finished with doing laundry. Something is always being washed, dried, folded, or dirtied. It’s a cycle, much like distributing backpacks. They are always being purchased, filled, collected, shipped, or distributed. Trish recently made the handy-dandy video below to discuss the massive impact backpacks are having on lives. More and more children are going to school. They are reaching higher grade levels. Families are being impacted in positive ways. And communities are building more schools and hiring more teachers. The impact is even more than Sowers4Pastors ever imagined it would be. Give the video a gander!

Sowers4Pastors has always made every effort to be good stewards of the resources with which God has entrusted them. They recognize that as their costs are going up, so are everyone else’s. It’s not just one area that is experiencing inflation. Food, gas, housing…Everything is more expensive. That’s one reason the ministry places a major focus on using donations where they will have the highest impact.

Trish said, “We know how hard times are right now. But if you’re interested in sending kids to school, having them hear the Gospel, impacting their families and communities, you might want to consider putting it where it will make the biggest impact. That has always been our goal. It’s a way you can make the biggest impact with a small donation.”

Allen is a math and logistics guy. He crunches the numbers over and over. He figures the cost of each trip to the ministry and the cost of the backpacks. Last year was difficult because the Penske truck rental doubled in price and the cost of shipping went up by 50%. This year, Allen is anticipating that the total cost may be doubled from just two years ago, if not more. But if they can collect enough backpacks, it still makes good fiscal sense for them to make the trip. Allen can calculate the cost of trucks, gas, and backpacks. There’s no way to put a monetary value on the benefit these kids receive between receiving a better education and hearing the Gospel.

Generally, just to give an idea, the trip will follow about the same schedule as last year, though maybe a week early. Allen is working on contacting people who are packing large quantities of backpacks and shipping out bulk shipments of empty backpacks and beginning the process of planning out the dates he will be at the different locations this year. 

With the price of gas, it is more important than ever for the ministry to make wise decisions concerning the routes and stops made. If you live anywhere close to the route, or are willing to travel, they will try to pick up your backpacks. They do not charge shipping fees on backpacks they collect along the way. Now, obviously, it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible to travel far off the beaten path to pick up one or two backpacks. This is a good opportunity for you to join together with your friends, neighbors, and church to fill backpacks. While there isn’t a magic number, it doesn’t take too many filled backpacks to make it worthwhile to make a stop.

Empty backpacks are sent out in boxes of 24. They have sent out boxes to people who fill less and return the empties but, in the grand scheme of things, filling two dozen backpacks isn’t all that much. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone! Get people involved. In the past, some people have made a huge impact by posting a supply list and having their Facebook community help out. Or maybe you would prefer to collect bulk school supplies and donate them to help the cause. That’s cool, too!
Life can feel overwhelming. This is your chance to focus on the principle of the 80-20 rule. If you’re not familiar with the 80-20 rule, it’s a theory which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. In other words, a little can go a long way when you use it correctly! If you would like to receive a box (or many boxes!) of backpacks, or if you are somewhere near the established collection route and want to arrange a pickup, send Trish an email at

And, as always, the staff at S4P would be grateful for your word of mouth support and, even more importantly, your prayers - even if you can't pack a backpack, prayers for the success of this trip and smooth sailing are always appreciated!!

Here are maps from previous trips, that more-or-less approximate the path Sowers4Pastors expects to take this coming year. If you live along this path, and you're interested in helping, let's talk!

The Seattle to Maryland portion of the trip

The east coast portion of the trip

The "across the south" portion of the trip

-posted by Christi

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Medical Mercy - Let's work together to provide health and hope!

 People say that knowledge is power. When we know what the problem is, we can begin the process of fixing it. In many cases, Honduran culture does not think that way. The thought process is—we know what the problem is, so now we can learn how to live with it.

This mentality often comes from the simple lack of resources. For example, what good is it to know that you have cataracts if you can’t afford the procedure to have them removed? This is exactly what happened with the caregiver of a child registered in the Manna program. She has been gradually losing vision for five years. Now she is practically blind. For all of these years, she knew the problem, but learned how to live without her sight because the resources to save her vision were completely out of reach.

As a result of the recent Medical Mercy Mission, Jonathan and I, along with Allen, Kirstin, and Rachel, have been evaluating each medical referral we received from the doctors from a “how can we fix this” perspective. We have been lining up doctors visits, scheduling surgeries, visiting potential patients in their homes to hear their histories and evaluate their needs, talking with local medical professionals and other missionaries to arrange treatments, and more!

We already have success stories. One child had a painful cyst removed from the top of her foot. One child has received formula to help him grow big and strong so he can have surgery for his cleft palate. We also provided formula for a baby whose mother is not producing milk and can’t pay for formula.

Three little patients received orthopedic surgeries last month. The first child came to be evaluated by the Medical Mercy Mission. He is only three years old, with one surgery for his club feet behind him. He required another surgery, but the cost was completely out of reach for the family. The other two patients did not come to be evaluated by the Medical Mercy team. These two children, who both had broken arms which healed badly, were told by their doctors that there was no hope for a normal arm again. They would live with the pain and the disfigurement forever. These children received the help they needed simply because they are known by Manna staff. When the orthopedic brigade came, we thought of them, went to their homes, talked to their parents, and did what we could to sow a seed of hope in their hearts. Even though the orthopedic brigade did not have room to see any more patients, God miraculously opened a door for these children to be seen and operated on. They are now in the process of recovery with a good prognosis!

Another child has been receiving life-changing help for his vision. We have been taking him to the eye clinic in El Progreso—approximately five hours from Gracias—to receive ongoing care to ensure that he does not lose his vision. We also took the caregiver that was mentioned earlier, but unfortunately, due to the advanced stage of the problem, there is now no help for her. She will live blind for the rest of her life, not because there was no solution, but because of extreme poverty and a fatalistic mindset that has been ground into the poor of Honduras by that same poverty which keeps solutions out of reach.

We know the problems that these communities must overcome, and we have the ability to facilitate many of the solutions, and there is power in that. However, without resources, we can not help. Here are the specific needs that we have at this moment:

3 orthopedic surgeries: $400 per child

40 patients who need eye exams and glasses: $125 per child

Dental clinic: we want every child to be evaluated, receive fluoride treatment, and have decayed baby teeth extracted as necessary. Children with adult teeth in need of repair will receive a referral. The dental clinic will cost us $350 per day, and we need 7 days for all of the Manna program to be seen.

10 children with specialty referrals, including cardiology, ENT, etc. We don’t know the costs of treatment, but the initial visits and exams cost about $50 per child.

Please help empower these children and families to receive help for life-changing medical needs! And please pray with us for their healing.

- posted by Kim Hall