Feeding the Hungry
June 16th, 2017 by Sean Mark
Hello again everyone! Thank you so much for following my story and partnering with me in this missions trip. I am currently in route from Honduras to the United States but I wanted to share a few more of my experiences before I write my farewell post. Last week I had the opportunity to go with a church group to minister in a very poor community in a rural part of Roatan. I was very excited about this experience because although I have had opportunities to minister to the healthcare needs of the people of Roatan, I hadn’t had the opportunity to focus completely on the spiritual needs of the people and minister with a church group.
The community we drove to lives down in a valley close to the ocean on a small area of land. Water flows from the ocean into the middle of community and can frequently lead to flooding when the tide is high. There are no bathrooms in this community so human waste gets into the water and then flows into the houses occasionally with the tide. To try to compensate for the height of the land, the people dump their trash everywhere and then put dirt on top of the trash to lay the foundations for their houses. The stench from the village is terrible due to the abundance of human waste present and one of my fellow volunteers even vomited the first time he smelled it. As I walked through the village it seemed like the houses were literally built on top of a sewer. You can imagine how poor the quality of life and health is for the people living in this community.
David Granada and his wife Heather are full-time missionaries and church planters who live in Roatan. They have adopted this poor community and David serves as the pastor of the church he planted there. He was our guide and leader as we ministered. David has served in missions all over the world including Asia, Africa, Central America, and the United States. He and his wife are originally from Santa Monica, California but they have now moved with two of their four children to Roatan. It was great to talk to David and hear about how the Lord had been working through him in this community. When he first visited the village, other missionaries told him that he would not want to minister there because there were many people that were caught up in drugs, alcohol, and other sinful habits. David saw the community with different eyes and heeded the call of Jesus to minister to the people.
As we walked through the main village road, all of the people we saw greeted David with smiles. He knew all of them by name and you could tell that he had invested in their lives. We stopped by a woman’s house who had recently been hospitalized after surgery for a stomach tumor which had burst in her belly. She was having a hard time sitting around her house recovering because she is normally someone who serves the whole community with meals, chores, and other favors. David and I spoke with her about her troubles and then we were able to pray for her for rapid healing and strength through this hard time.
We walked back to the church building as many people from the village were beginning to gather outside. The children of the community happened to be out of school that day so the church was surrounded by many youth and their parents. The day started off with a worship service in the upstairs part of the two floor church building. While the people began to worship the Lord, the volunteers in the bottom floor of the church began to busily make sandwiches to feed lunch to the 200+ people who had gathered. I was invited by Pastor David to come upstairs and witness the worship of the people. I was so blessed to see people who have so little in this world still worshiping the Lord so passionately.
As I attended the service I was surprised to see that the church was led almost exclusively by people from the community. David informed me that many of the people up front leading used to be in lifestyles of sin but Jesus redeemed them to be leaders for Christ in their community. David explained that this is the model that the Lord gave him for church planting. He didn’t want the church to be led only by gringos (white people), but he has encouraged local leadership and buy-in from the community from the beginning. This way even if David leaves, the church will still be sustainable because the people of the community have ownership and an investment in it. Seeing this model in action really gave me vision for my future in ministry. I saw that community development and church planting requires local leadership on the ground-level to be raised up. It was encouraging to see how Jesus provided these people to Pastor David for this church.
As I was enjoying worship, David called me aside to come outside to his truck. In the backseat of his truck he had a mother from the community with a small child less than a year old who had a terrible rash. The rash was causing many areas of his skin to peel off and he was not able to sleep much at night because it was so itchy. I drove with Pastor David, the mother, and the child to the local Pharmacia (pharmacy) where a local doctor was practicing. David had brought me along because he knew I was a physician and wanted to get my opinion as well. As we drove I put on my doctor hat and started asking the mother about the rash. Due to absence of other systemic symptoms, it became apparent that the rash was likely an allergic reaction to a new food the mom had recently started. I spoke with the doctor at the pharmacy and we agreed the patient needed anti-histamines and short course of corticosteroids to help the rash resolve. The mom felt better to have an answer and treatment. David paid for the bill for this mother who otherwise would have not been able to afford the doctor visit or the medications. It was rewarding to show the love of Jesus to this woman and her child as we cared for their basic needs.
We drove back to the church as the service was just ending. The children and families were all lined up outside the bottom floor door waiting for lunch. I went inside to see if the volunteers needed any more help and I saw a few hundred plates with sandwiches and bananas spread out everywhere. There was also juice in cups for the kids which was a special treat for them. As the doors opened the kids came in one by one starting with the smallest to get their food. All of the small children ate inside at little tables while the big kids and adults ate outside. We passed out all of the food until all of the people of the community were fed. David told me this meal was special for the people because many of them only eat one or two meals a day that usually are small without much nutrition. It was fun to see the joy on their faces as we gave them this gift.
After lunch, David and his wife Heather started bringing me any kids with medical problems or injuries. I tried to do the best I could with the small first aid kid they had. After cleaning a few wounds and putting on a few band aids, I had the opportunity to play with the kids for a short time. The small girls lit up when I told them “Jesus loves you” and “you are beautiful.” Pastor David informed me that this community is plagued by fatherlessness due to promiscuity and drug addiction. He explained that simple acts of affection such as playing, patting a head, or words of encouragement from a male figure can really impact these children. It was fun and rewarding to minister to the kids in these simple ways.
After play time we loaded up the vehicles and drove away as we waved goodbye to the people of the community. I thanked Jesus that I was able to not only help these people in need but also to witness how the gospel can transform a community and produce songs of joy even in the midst of great poverty. I pray the Lord uses me in the future to transform communities by the practical love of Jesus Christ and the power of the gospel.