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28 Oct / Lynch mob

Author: Matthew
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I enjoyed a fabulous Saturday with my family yesterday. Joshua invited a new friend along to go to what is officially his favorite place on the planet. It’s a “balneario” in a little town called San Matias where for a modest fee you can swim in a raging river that cuts through a gorgeous canyon. The water is clean and very, very cold, which was perfect on a hot Honduran afternoon. After a fun day of swimming and picnic-ing, I told my precious family good-bye as I had planned to mountain bike back to our home.

The bike ride home is about 2.5 hours, with lots of climbing, spectacular views of the vast farmlands, and quaint little towns. I had to bike through two shallow river crossings, pass by waterfalls, and greet local farmers. Lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, and onion were being picked and set in boxes along the roadside awaiting purchase by the middle-men who sell to the markets in the city. Some of the boxes even said Dole on them, so who knows, your next salad up there in the US of A might just be coming from Honduras.

As I pedaled into the little town of El Empedrado, I came upon a slow moving procession of men walking, pick-up trucks, and horses. Usually, this is the sign of a solemn funeral procession. So, I decided to pass the procession without greeting anyone just to be respectful of their loss and grief. But as I passed one, two, and then three pick-up trucks full on men, I came to the front of the procession. At the front of this procession were three men who looked filthy, unshaved, and disheveled. The most curious detail through was that they were bound with ropes and being marched along at the front on this procession.

As a proceeded on into the town ahead of the procession, I saw children and women all coming out of their houses and heading into the streets. Neighbors were calling to one another, and at this point I realized what I thought was a funeral procession was really a lynch mob. Think this stuff doesn’t really happen? It does. This town was about an hour’s walk from the nearest police station, and as I learned from some of the neighbors, the town has been searching for several thieves. These thieves had been coming down out of the mountains and killing cattle, oxen, and even horses to cut them up and illegally sell their meat in Tegucigalpa markets. One woman lamented to me that her father had been unable to work for over a week as his pair of oxen had been killed by the thieves. On this quiet Saturday in the mountain town, the thieves had the misfortune of being caught red-handed stealing horses. Ooops.

As I recall seeing the poor, dirty men, it occurred to me that they had stolen the food and livelihood from numerous families in the town. The clamor of the pueblo demanded justice. As I think of the men, I know that they were stealing because of their inability to pay for the things they needed or wanted. No amount of beating or other unfortunate action of the lynch mob would result in these guys being able to pay for the cows, oxen, or horses they had taken. The debt was unpayable, and the demand for justice was insatiable.

For just a moment, I thought about how much a cow might cost. And I contemplated whether it would be prudent to pay for the animals these men had killed, so as to spare them being lynched. My generosity fell far short of making any such offer, and my common sense and innate self-preservation led me to pedal out of town as quickly as possible.

But the experience made quite an impression on me. What an amazing analogy to remind me of my own unfortunate state. My grievances are too many. The damages too high. The offense too great. Having been caught red-handed in sin, the God I serve demands justice [Job 37:23]. And the just penalty for my sin is death [Romans 6:23]. I am unable to pay back the God I have offended. The only way to satisfy the divine justice is for a life to be taken in place of mine [Hebrews 9:22]. And in place of yours. That penalty was paid by Jesus Christ [I Peter 1:17-19]. In full. And me (and you), are the dirty, pathetic criminals being untied, set free, and given a second chance. Praise God for His mercy.

The El Renuevo Ladies' Day event.
Author: Matthew
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We had the pleasure of hosting the second annual Ladies’ Day team this past week. A group of 15 total came down from both Madison Christian Church in Ohio and Logan Christian Church in Iowa. Like last year, the group included my (Jen’s) parents and my grandma, which was so wonderful for me! We packed a lot into a short amount of time, but I can honestly say that both the team and the women that we ministered to were truly blessed by the events that took place.

The idea behind Ladies’ Day is to offer a one-day, all-day event in each of the churches. Our 2 churches in the south met together, so we had 3 big event days instead of 4. The ladies from the U.S. decorated the churches beautifully and had the whole day laid out and prepared ahead of time. We had invited 160 women between all 4 of our churches and had a great turn-out of 146! The day included the following: worship songs that are known in both Spanish and English, special music by Brooke (who doesn’t speak Spanish but sang beautifully in Spanish!), a game with bracelets for prizes (everyone received one), a Bible study on the importance of serving within the Body by Diane & my mom, a great and useful craft, a special lunch complete with dessert, the testimony of what the Lord has done in Carla’s life, and fellowship time in between all of that. I think my favorite time was singing Cuan Grande Es El/How Great Thou Art, hearing both languages belted out in true praise. The theme of the day was “How Committed is your Relationship with the Lord?”. Carol passed out Bible study booklets at the end of the day, stressing the fact that we are most concerned about the spiritual condition of all who were there and of course, clearly explaining the Gospel. As follow-up, Carol and I will be going through this Bible study (A Women Who Pleases the Lord) once a month in each of the churches with the women there. Please pray that the seeds that were planted those special days will grow into a hunger for God, a thirst for the understanding of His Word, and the desire to commit fully to Him.

The team had also raised the money to donate a food bag and hygiene products to each of the 160 ladies. We are thankful for how the Lord provided this very tangible need! Matthew, Melvin, Carol, and I had purchased all the food ahead of time, so putting the bags together was the first order of business for the team. It was a great time of bonding for the team and it was certainly a joy to see the excitement on the ladies’ faces as the bags were distributed. Please pray that all glory will go to the Lord for His generosity, both materially and especially spiritually.

And thank you to all who were involved! For everyone at each of the 2 churches that donated money or items, who prayed for the team before and during the trip, and especially to those 15 who obeyed God’s prompting on their lives to come and serve. I love this part of my “job”, being a liaison between two cultures and peoples who are all part of God’s family. It is an honor and a privilege to be serving here and get to meet and know so many of the remnant! Much love to you all.