// Blog Archive

21 Jul / Youth Service Weekend

Author: Matthew
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It’s about time I do a little catch-up in the blog world!!! So here we go, over the next few days….

In early June, we took the youth from our church in Tegucigalpa to serve the 2 churches in the south. Most of them had never visited those churches, so it was a great way to help them know how to pray for their sister congregations and to serve them. The youth had met for a month before we took them south in order to prepare lessons and activities for the kids. And they did a great job teaching and leading small groups!
We really wanted to give the youth a hands-on opportunity to serve and practice sharing the Gospel with others. It was also a great weekend of building unity among them and seeing some of their friendships grow, through service, laughter & games, and even getting to visit a small zoo together.
We pray that these youth will truly fear the Lord and desire to serve Him wholeheartedly, and we pray that the Lord used that weekend to draw them closer to Him. Enjoy a few pictures from our time together!

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Love my sweet boys! They do such a great job of being part of the ministry activities

This past month, Jennifer and I took on some additional ministry responsibilities as Melvin and Carol had the unique chance to head to the US of A. Through the generosity of family, Kishwaukee Bible Church, and New Covenant Bible Church, Melvin and Carol were able to take a bit of a mini-sabbatical. Thanks to my friend Justin Taylor, Melvin was able to attend the Gospel Coalition conference in Orlando. This time was full of rich teaching and preaching, focused primarily of the Gospel according to Luke. Pastor Melvin heard preaching from godly men like John Piper, D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and many others. I am excited as Melvin and I will be focusing this months’ pastoral training conference on the book of Luke as well.

Melvin and Carol’s whirlwhind trip allowed them to spend time in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Florida, packing in a roadtrip of well over 1,000 miles. Thanks to my father-in-law for lending out the wheels.

 

Let me share some interesting observations from the Zelayas on life in our culture.

  • Life is faster paced in the U.S. While we knew this already, Melvin was surprised how aggressive Chicago-land drivers will just push you off the road.
  • Life is more expensive in the U.S. Sure there are less potholes on I-90 than in Honduras (although I think Illinois is catching up with us quickly), but the amount of money required for tolls was a big surprise.
  • However small and seemingly distant from the U.S the ministry here is, Melvin and Carol were touched by how many brothers and sisters in Christ wanted to greet them and showed so much interest in what God is doing here. It was such an encouragement for them to meet godly men and women – even those who have never been to Honduras – pray regularly for our family, for Melvin, and for the Church here. While at times one might feel alone in the call to preach the Gospel, knowing that Christ’s Church is global, that the Call is being answered by obedient Christ-followers, and that many are supporting the Work of the Gospel around the world is motivation to press on.
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Author: Matthew
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I have quite a bit to catch up on, but first I want to share about our Easter week. Holy Week, or Semana Santa, here in Honduras is full of traditions and often a time of rest or vacation for people. With tradition always comes certain types of foods, of which includes pescado seco, or dried fish, which they eat in blog, make “meatballs” out of, or cook up a few other ways. Our family is not big on seafood, so we refrained from participating in this particular tradition. However, we did want to witness a Catholic tradition that had started originally in Guatemala – the alfombras.

Basically, the entire country shuts down Thursday and Friday of Semana Santa. On Good Friday, many within the Catholic church get up in the wee hours of the morning to begin creating these beautiful rugs. Oftentimes, up to 40 people work together on one rug. Even the government gets involved and has people out there working. These rugs, or alfombras, are made completely of brightly colored sawdust mixed with some glue. People have to stand over them all day long to keep them slightly damp so they don’t blow away. Then, at 5 in the evening of Good Friday, 60-70 men carry a large “float” through the several kilometers full of alfombras. We had been invited by an acquaintance who was part of carrying this float – and wow, was it a sight to see. Although we did not stay for the processional, we were invited into the church where it was being held. The float had taken 40 men more than 6 months to complete and displayed Christ on the cross, a statue of each of the 4 Gospel writers, and many, many intricate details.

It was great for our family to experience and learn about the alfombras, which are diplayed all throughout Latin America every year on Good Friday. Although the people of our church do not participate, it gives us a little insight into what many Hondurans focus on and how they view Christ.

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The Catholic church downtown was displaying signs of Jesus’ last words on the cross.

28 Oct / Lynch mob

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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.