Story of Great Progress in Western Honduras
by: Stafford North | July 11, 2018
In June 2009, the Waldron family, consisting of Phil and Donna and their two youngest, teenaged children Harrison and Laura, moved to Santa Rosa de Copan, in western Honduras, and began Mission UpReach, a work of the Campus View Church of Christ in Athens, Georgia. From the beginning, the Waldrons were hosting visiting medical groups as well as other short-term mission groups but at the same time were working with the local church of Christ in Santa Rosa. This congregation had been established by two young men who were students at the Baxter Institute in Tegucigalpa some fifteen years before. These men had been sent there by Harris Goodwin, the founder of Baxter, with instructions to evangelize the community. Because of their initial efforts, a congregation was established near the center of town in in the area called Barrio Calvario.
Later, a traveling missionary, AJ Hendricks, came from the church of Christ in Stark City, Missouri, for numerous six-week trips to the western part of Honduras. Hendricks was a large man with a tremendous sense of humor that captivated his audiences. His years of serving there left an indelible impression on the congregations he helped establish and nurture. Then came another itinerant missionary, James Mangrum from the Hermitage Church of Christ in Tennessee. He was a retired glass worker from the Ford plant in Nashville, and was a humble man who loved the Honduran people. Mangrum travelled to Honduras some sixty-five times. His work left an indelible positive mark on some ten to fifteen congregations in the area.
When the Waldrons arrived in Santa Rosa, the little church in Santa Rosa had an attendance of about forty including children. In the five years after their arrival along with the coming of other team members, this church grew to have 150 in attendance. The building where the church was meeting was overflowing. A team of twenty-three came together and decided to plant a second congregation in the city of Santa Rosa.
This additional congregation was established in September of 2014. The original congregation has now relocated to the section called Colonia Mejia Garcia and has about 150 in attendance. The new congregation, located in Bario Belen, has enjoyed significant growth with now an average attendance of 250 and sometimes having as many as 300. About 100 of those are elementary school children. It has been exciting and challenging to manage such rapid growth, particularly since most of the converts in the new congregation are poor. There are, however, some college graduates among the new converts.
The rapid growth in the Belen congregation is due to several important factors: (1) good preaching and adult class teaching, (2) excellent a cappella worship, (3) a well- organized Sunday School ministry for children, and (4) a quality youth ministry.
Currently this congregation has four elders, two deacons, and two full-time evangelists. These evangelists are supported by the congregation itself with no funds coming from the United States. We believe this model of biblical organization has contributed to the rapid growth in the congregation
The challenges ahead for this young congregation are numerous. The largest of these is the training and equipping of men and women who are new Christians to become the leaders and ministers that God wants them to be. This is where Mission UpReach partners so well with the Belen congregation. In fact, the entire mission and vision of Mission UpReach is to help every congregation to train its members to be vocational ministers as part of the priesthood of believers the Bible describes. More leaders trained equals more teams of people who not only can lead their local congregation but who can also help establish new congregations as well.
To learn more or to contribute to Mission UpReach, contact them at 3221 Dundee Road, Longview,TX 73604 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The work of Mission UpReach to help build these congregations provides a model to follow, not only in mission work but in the United States as well. Their work is certainly good news.)