Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What if . . .

What if you could remove the worms and parasites from a malnourished child, for 2 cents?

What if you could feed a malnourished child 100 meals for $2? (2 cents per meal)

What if you could sponsor a child, providing them with school supplies, school shoes, 2 highly nutritious meals per week, and Sunday school materials, for $15 per month?

What if you could put a roof on a new church building, that will seat 200 people, for $800?

What if you could help a pastor, who is walking from village to village (60 miles each week) planting churches, to get a motorcycle, for $1000? Or help him purchase a horse for $500?

The fact is that you can do all of these things, and more, in partnership with Sowers4pastors and the pastors of western Honduras. 

What if . . . . . . . ?

As you contemplate your end-of-the year giving, please consider partnering with us! This link tells you how to donate. Thanks so much, and Merry Christmas!

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:40

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

No Fairy Godmother

Whenever Allen or Trish make it back to the States, they receive some most excellent questions about how their sponsorship program impacts the children, their families, and their pastors. This has come up so often that we figured we should address this in its very own blog post.

Walk the Walk

People are often surprised to learn some children walk miles through the mountains in order to get to feeding centers. Let’s face it, in our society, if we ever expected our young children to hike across rugged terrain for a meal, we could expect the authorities to pay us a little home visit! The Sowers understand your concern, but here’s the deal: Honduras is not the United States. Their cultural norms are not our cultural norms. That doesn’t mean one way of life is wrong and the other is right. It merely means they are different ways of life.

In Honduras, it is absolutely expected that a child may walk miles to school, church, etc… The parents aren’t being neglectful. It’s just how things are. The fact that parents send their kiddos off to feeding centers does not indicate they are so desperate for food that they will risk the safety of their children. It means, hey, it’s a mountainous region of Honduras. If you want to get somewhere, you should probably start walking because mommy doesn’t have a minivan.

Parents take necessary precautions. It is normal for children to travel in groups, with the older ones keeping an eye on the younger ones. Some pastors even operate their feeding centers on Sundays to save the children one trip each week. And, as absolutely foreign as that sounds to us, my father told similar stories about his childhood.

What? I Don’t Get Three Wishes?

The next thing people want to know is whether the sponsorship program sets up a fairy godmother sort of situation. They wonder if it alters relationships between children, their families, and pastors.

Trish addressed this with me by saying, “We are only moving letters back and forth three or four times a year. Any gifts the kids receive with those letters are usually limited to what can fit in a small Ziplock baggie. These kids are not being continually showered with gifts and it’s not a matter of some kids being picked out above others. A child receiving some good things and a few letters does not come between the kids and parents.”

A Matter of Pride?

Finally (for the purposes of this post, anyway!), people want to know if the parents of sponsored children find it hurtful to see someone else doing things for their child. Trish assured me the parents react the same way we might if our child received a big scholarship. I don’t know about you, but I’d be thrilled for my children to receive scholarships.

For a parent who cannot afford to send a child to school because of the cost of a backpack, school supplies, and shoes, this is the absolute equivalent of a scholarship. The parents feel great gratitude and joy.

Allen, the numbers man, wants me to reiterate that the cost of a backpack and school supplies in Honduras would be around $70. The cost for the exact same items (or frequently items of higher quality) is $30. That’s not counting the expense of shoes. Plus, many families are dealing with multiple children. In a country where a family’s annual income might be $1000, it’s easy to see how the backpacks and school supplies could mean the difference between a child receiving an education or not receiving one.

Get involved!

If you're interested in being a part of helping these children, in remote villages of western Honduras, here are a few ways you can help, with links to additional information:
  • Donate to the general feeding ministry, in which 14,000 children are currently being fed, at a cost of 2 cents per meal

 - posted by Christi

Friday, December 9, 2016

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

It’s time! Hey, it’s time! Do you remember the excitement you felt when you woke up on Christmas morning, as a child? That’s sort of how I feel right now. These are the moments we’ve all been waiting for: It’s backpack distribution time!

And Now a Word to Our Sponsors!

On December 3rd, Russell and Allen were at Camelote Campuca to hand out backpacks to 55 kids who have been sponsored by the good people of their sister church, Fredericktowne Baptist Church in Maryland. The children registered for the program back in October, but not every eligible child was able to make it that day (it’s coffee harvesting season, and many children were off picking coffee). So, word was spread to tell the other children to show up on distribution day, too. An additional 25 children were registered and received backpacks. How could they go ahead and receive backpacks without official sponsors? Thank you for asking!

Fredericktowne Baptist Church congregation was so enthusiastic about sponsoring children they have a waiting list of sponsors! The children were quickly entered into the system so the information could be sent to Kim Hall, in the states, and she created sponsorship packets for each of these children. This Sunday, FBC will put those additional children up on their sponsorship wall during the church service for members to sponsor. Because Russell knew there were people ready to step up, he was able to provide each child with their very own backpack filled with school supplies.

Shoes, personalized gifts, and letters to the children at Camelote Campuca from their sponsors at FBC are expected to arrive in February. They’re currently being collected in Maryland, and will be delivered when the container arrives.

These Halls are Not for Decking

Tomorrow, Kim and Jonathon Hall of Manna 4 Lempira are arriving in Honduras with their family. On Sunday, the Sowers will take the Halls to visit Pastor Alfredo’s church at the Betania feeding center. There, they will distribute almost 200 backpacks, pairs of shoes, and letters to the children at that location.

Then, on Monday and Tuesday, they are meeting with five separate groups in El Tablon, where they will work with Pastor Omar. The children there will be receiving their backpacks, which were personalized by their sponsors, and came down earlier in the container which was shipped from Florida in November.

Wednesday and Thursday will find the group at the Mercedes center with Pastor Israel and Pastor German. 330 children will be receiving their personalized backpacks and letters, through Manna 4 Lempira!

An exhausted Hall family will be driven to the airport on the 16th. Allen and Russell will forge on, heading to Las Crucitas the next day, to give the children there the backpacks from their sister church, Trinity Anglican Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

Kicking off the New Year

Things don’t slow down in January! On January 7th, a team from Edgewater Alliance Church in Edgewater, Florida is flying in. On January 8th, 9th, and 10th, the Sowers will take the team out to distribute backpacks, shoes, letters and to perform medical well visits for four different groups with their sister church at Guacutao. Pastors Lorenzo and Antonio will be on hand for that.

Worth the Wait

For some of you who packed school supplies back in August, you’ve been waiting a long time for this. But, hey, good things come to those who wait and backpack distribution is a very good thing! Allen would like to remind you that it costs Sowers 4 Pastors about $20 to assemble a stocked backpack in the States. For a parent in Honduras, the same supplies and pack could easily cost them $70! Allen is able to purchase shoes for $15 in the States, which would cost around $60 in Honduras.

So, to all who contributed in any way... Thank you!!!! Your backpacks, sponsorships, shoes, etc... are making a profound difference in the lives of these children. These programs help encourage kids to receive an education and also bring kids into the church, where they can hear the Gospel message. And, as Allen reminded me, "This is why we do this."

 - posted by Christi

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Heaven on Wheels

Not an actual pastor - we discourage our pastors
from doing stunts 😉
The mountains of Western Honduras are now home to fourteen more indigenous pastor driven motorcycles! These “Heaven on Wheels” pastors represent seven different denomination from eight different departments (like small U.S. states).

Let’s Get this Project Rolling

This process started in June, when the Sowers got word of a funding opportunity for this ministry. The Sowers would like to say thank you to the Christian Motorcyclist Association, Missionary Ventures, Foundation for Missions, and Edgewater Alliance Church for their part in making this happen.

Pastors are selected based on who walks the greatest distance, who works the most hours, and who serves the most churches. It’s not unusual for a single pastor to have several churches and walk fifty or more miles per week. There was no shortage of candidates. As Russell said, “We could help hundreds of pastors who meet these requirements, but the limiting factor is the funding from the states.”

This year, in fact, they knew there was a possibility of getting funding for about ten new motorcycles through the Christian Motorcyclist Association. (The CMA ended up funding nine.) Yet, they had fourteen amazing candidates. So, of course, they did what Sowers do and took a leap of faith. Surprise! Then Allen sent out a plea to a friend at Edgewater Alliance Church, who helped present a proposal to their missions board to apply for the other five motorcycles.

Have Box Truck, Will Travel

Russell gave me the rundown on how they obtain the motorcycles. Once the funding is obtained, Russell contacts Honda and places an order. When the order is ready, he rents a large box truck and drives about five hours to the big city to pick up the motorcycles, helmets, and necessary paperwork. Then he makes the return trip with his precious cargo. Once he has them home, he tests each set of wheels to make sure they’re good to go. Then he calls the ecstatic new owners to come get their hard earned motorcycles.

A Lesson in Sweat Equity

Yes, I said, “hard earned motorcycles.” You might be thinking the motorcycles are given to pastors as an act of charity. You might be thinking wrong! I knew the pastors were expected to come up with a portion of the funding, in what Allen likes to refer to as sweat equity. I knew the bikes only go to those pastors who have demonstrated they are serious about their desire to own and maintain a motorcycle. As we’ve discussed before, it does no good to give a motorcycle to a pastor who can’t afford to keep it running. What I didn’t remember is how very much sweat equity is involved.

Each pastor pays 40% of the price of a motorcycle. That’s $640 toward the purchase of a $1640 motorcycle! Given their annual income, that is nothing short of amazing! By operating under the sweat equity guidelines, Sowers4Pastors is able to help more pastors receive much needed transportation. Instead of eight motorcycles, they provided fourteen, for the same amount of donated money. (Okay, there was a fraction involved there, but we’re rounding up!)

Allen pointed out that most missionaries who receive the motorcycle money pay for the full amount, with no investment on the part of the pastors. There have been instances of those pastors selling their motorcycles, rather than using them in ministry. But, for the pastors who have sacrificed so greatly, specifically in order to receive a motorcycle, their new wheels are a highly valued possession. It’s the difference between a child who is given a new bike and one who had to rake leaves and mow lawns in order to purchase a bike. That's a pastor who really wants, and will use, a motorcycle!

Not all pastors see a motorcycle as being worth this investment. Some would rather take their money and use it toward something like a sound system for their church, and that’s fine. But, for the pastors who choose to make this investment, they are able to expand their ministry area and be more efficient in their use of time.

In case you've paid attention to the ongoing tally: Sowers4Pastors has now distributed 180 motorcycles and 70 horses or mules for pastors, in total!

- posted by Christi

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Fruits of their Labors

Remember when we told you we had a videographer staying with us, to make videos of our ministry to share with others? (It's okay if you've forgotten. You can go and read that post now, HERE.)

Today I'm excited to share with you a bit of what Jenny Oetting is creating, from all the material she shot during her month in Honduras. This video documents a particular team who came down to do a Bridge-in-a-Week project.

I think you'll be impressed with what the team accomplished - and what Jenny has accomplished here, too! Please comment and let us know what you think!