The Pieces Come Together
7 February 2020
Maybe you’ve never thought about it. How does a missions trip come together? A trip like the one I’m about to take to Honduras and El Salvador doesn’t just “happen.” I can’t just show up and have folks say, “Hey, Jim’s here. Let’s gather the pastors for some teaching meetings.” So please let me share a few insights from this upcoming Honduras trip (February 20-March 6).
Why Do They Need Us?
A Téguz area pastor (left)
with superintendent Javier Cruz (center)
and lead pastor Ángel Álvarez.
Highest in the preparation agenda is attitude and focus — to serve. That means asking, “Why do they need us?” That is, what are their perceived teaching needs? Where do they feel they’re most lacking, most vulnerable? For instance, 12 years ago when I was invited to Guatemala, the Guatemalans’ request was that I come to teach on hermeneutics, that is, how to read, study, preach, and teach the Bible in context. This was their own inspired perception of their need, and on this foundation — our “What’s the Context?” seminars — all of our subsequent years of teaching have been built. Other countries, like Honduras and Perú, picked up that theme, and the same glorious “building” is going on. I have found it most profitable to abandon “my” teaching agenda and to listen to what the leadership knows that its pastors need.
When Do They Need Us?
When do they need us? It’s no small task to coordinate the assembly of pastors and leaders from all over a country. Most pastors do not own their own means of transportation, not even a motorbike. And many pastors are “bi-vocational,” which means they sacrifice work hours (and therefore much-needed income) from their secular jobs in order to attend such teaching conferences. After last year’s Honduras trip needed to be postponed because of my surgeries, it has taken six months to re-coordinate a new time for this trip. Another piece of the puzzle is the matter of securing good, biblically literate, Christian translators.
Where Do They Need Us?
Where do they need us? Since transportation for many is relegated to “chicken buses” and over-stuffed mini-van “taxis,” distances of 50 miles or more can be a hardship. So we arrange multiple teaching venues in a given country, giving these Christian leaders options for meeting places closer to where they live and minister. How close the where is might determine if they can attend. That’s why this month’s Honduras trip has three venues, one of which is in the remote town of Trojes, a long six-hour drive from the capital city, right on the border of Nicaragua. On my last visit, the leaders from this area weren’t able to attend the teaching; so since we go to serve, we’re going “out in the sticks,” to Trojes, in order to serve them.
How Can We Maximize Our ROI?
Shown is one of our meetings in “Téguz” (Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras).
The flag of El Salvador,
the country named after our Savior.3
Besides our teaching topic, times, and locales, how can we maximize our ROI (Return on Investment) on this Honduras trip? We’re keeping three extra goals in mind:
- To further investigate the literacy level of pastors in the more remote regions and to explore how to get them literacy training.
- For those who are literate and who have been faithful “elephant eaters” (i.e., those who are now reading through the Bible cover to cover every year), how many would benefit from the Bible-study reference-book package that we have made available to pastors in Nicaragua and Guatemala? And…
- Since we’ll be so close to El Salvador, we have arranged to visit a superintendent who needs training for his pastors and leaders. We will visit him personally in San Salvador to hear his heart, see the need “up close and personal,” and (Lord willing) plan to do a teaching conference in El Salvador in early May right after my annual teaching visit to Guatemala.
Why, When, and How Much We Need You!
Happiness is having a superintendent who knows how to adjust sewing machines!
With translator Joel Aguilera
We’ll be teaching in Honduras first…4
…followed by an exploratory trip to El Salvador.
When do we need your team effort? Right now! Why and how do we need it? In giving and in prayer.
Try this thought experiment: You got saved just a few years ago and then felt called to full-time ministry. Your calling is confirmed and you’ve been given a church (or maybe two!) to pastor. Did I leave anything out? Oh, yes, just one small matter: You’ve never been to Bible school or seminary. And you can’t go, because of inadequate education and the need to work a second job to support your growing family. Basic Bible-study reference books are priced way beyond your means. Where do you get the training to help you fulfill your calling?
This is why we go and give: Now maybe you see where Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship’s teaching trips fit in. As the Spirit leads us, we try to go where these hard-working pastors and leaders are bearing fruit and are hungry to learn. We charge them nothing, because that’s what they can afford. God prefers the Body of Christ to minster to its needier members. Besides, it spreads the blessing around. I may be the one “on the ground,” but in Spirit we go together as a team. We give out of love for these men and women who are in a glorious harvest season where God is moving — in Latin America.
How much are we talking about? For this Honduras trip, around $1,275 will cover everything, including an economy airfare ticket ($779.79 purchased in obedience by faith today), gas for in-country travel (more expensive there than here), translators (an added expense in Honduras, $35/day), some of my meals, and (possibly) economy lodging in Trojes. Bottom line: It only costs us about $10 per attendee for a two-day teaching seminar; the pastors and leaders can attend for free because of your gifts. You can help us to train these pastors by your generous support and prayer.
Speaking of prayer: I might have second thoughts about going to these two high-crime-rate countries if I didn’t know and couldn’t sense the team prayer support and the protective “covering” that you provide during these trips. And protection isn’t just for me; protection is needed for the leaders as they travel to and from the conferences.
The safety and trip expenses don’t mean too much, though, if the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t come upon me, the teaching, and the leaders. Pray that I would walk in sensitivity to the One Who leads and guides into all truth.
For those of you who’d like a detailed itinerary as a guide to daily intercession, I’ll supply that below in the postscript. Just below that are the links through which you can give. Having you on our missions team is much appreciated!
Much love in Jesus,
Itinerary for Prayer and Intercession
- Thu. 20 Feb.: Travel from 05:00 to ~13:00 by air to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Drive another 4 hours or so to arrive in the town of Yoro.
- Fri.-Sat. 21-22: Teach in Yoro.
- Sun. 23 Feb.: Travel to Tegucigalpa (“Téguz”; a 4.5-hour drive)
- Mon.-Tue., 24-25 Feb.: Teach in Téguz
- Wed. 26 Feb.: Travel to Trojes (6-hour drive)
- Thu.-Fri. 27-28 Feb.: Teach in Trojes
- Sat. Leap Day: Return to Téguz (6-hour drive)
- Sun. 1 Mar.: Probably preach several times in and around Téguz.
- Mon. 2 Mar.: Travel to San Salvador, El Salvador by car. This is about an 8-hour trip, including a border crossing.
- Tue.-Wed. 3-4 Mar.: Spend time with the Salvadoran superintendent and pastors.
- Thu. 5 Mar.: Return to Téguz by car, another 8-hour drive and a border crossing.
- Fri. 6 Mar.: Fly home from Téguz.
Tax-Deductible Donations Gratefully Received
- Graphic by Jim Kerwin. ↩
- Remaining photos and images are by Jim Kerwin (or taken with his camera or cell phone) unless otherwise noted. ↩
- Image of the flag of El Salvador courtesy of jorono from Pixabay.com. ↩
- This map of Honduras and the one El Salvador which follows is courtesy of Operation World. ↩