Beacons of hope in Honduras Alumni help amidst political unrest

In recent months, the small country of Honduras has been a mainstay in global news amidst a military coup and subsequent political upheaval.

But beyond the present darkness, you will see that Honduras is a place filled with the light of gracious people, a joyful culture, and home to powerful ministries of which OC graduates are a major part.

Amber Foster, a 2004 graduate of OC’s family studies program, has lived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for five years now. She welcomes, hosts and directs more than 30 visiting mission groups each year, primarily in the village of El Magote.

However, a new opportunity recently found Amber in an unexpected place.

The homeless of Tegucigalpa often find themselves congregating at the city soccer stadium.

“They have no other option,” Amber said. “To be homeless in Honduras is to be abandoned by your family. There are no government support agencies. They have no one.”

So Amber, along with fellow missionaries and recent OC grads Will (05) and Rachel (07) Antrikin, reached out. It began with 10 pounds of beans and five pounds of rice. They guessed it would be enough to feed about 30 people.

And the people came, hungry for both food and hope. Friendships were formed, and Amber and the Antrikins found a new calling.

“It was a providential blessing that it went so well the first night,” Amber said. “The second night was very difficult. We found ourselves giving first aid for knife fights and dealing with the realities of life on the streets.”

But to Amber, the challenges make the reward much sweeter.

“I can imagine being hungry. I can imagine being thirsty. I can even imagine being on drugs. But I cannot imagine having no one who cares about you. There aren’t many things I do well, but I care about people. And I love my new friends,” Amber said.

And she is loved as well. Recently several of the children at the stadium were arguing about how to pronounce Amber’s name. She laughed and asked them, “Well, how do you say my name?” “Mama,” they responded.

Before the coup, the group had grown to serving more than 100 plates per night. Amber hopes this will be her fulltime ministry soon. When she was back in the U.S. during the coup, she raised support to feed at the stadium four nights per week.

Amber knows this is only the beginning of a larger mission, but she is excited to see what lies ahead. Filling stomachs with food, and hearts with hope.

As a biology major, Eric Thornhill (97) and his wife Brandi (Hoebing 98) prayed that medical missions would be a part of their lives, but didn’t know how that would transpire.

Professors like Dr. Kim Gaither, Dr. Mike Gipson and Dr. Jeanine Varner pushed Eric to reach his full potential. After graduating from OC, Eric worked for Johnson & Johnson in pharmaceutical sales. During this time, he realized his passion for business, and soon returned to Oklahoma Christian for his MBA. He also worked as OC’s soccer coach.

“I took seriously the lives of the students that were entrusted to me,” he said.

The importance of stewardship led Eric to join and eventually become the president of the Predisan USA board.

Predisan – based on the Spanish words “to preach” and “to heal” – is a medical mission in Honduras that serves the nation’s poorest people with medical care, spiritual nourishment and community development support. Well respected in Honduras and throughout the world, Presidan impacts more than 40,000 people per year.

Eric’s primary responsibility is fundraising. Stewardship has always been heavy on his heart, and the work with Predisan only increased that.

“We wanted to be in it for the long haul, with our time and money,” Eric said. “Many people note the things that Hondurans lack, but we wanted to learn from what they have in abundance – contentment.”

Eric also practices and encourages stewardship in his own business. He co-owns the Beacon Group, which is very involved in benevolence programs in the Oklahoma City area.

Eric, Amber, Will and Rachel are using their God-given gifts, developed at OC, to shine as bright lights in the dark places of Honduras. By joining in the work God was doing and inviting others to get involved, they are living lives of faithful service.

By Ann White (04)