Last week in the post, "Is Your Church Too Small or Too Poor to Do Missions?" I shared the stories of churches that were able to accomplish ministry even though they weren't sure they could. They were surprised by God's abundance. Today I'm sharing a post by Jim Halstead, pastor at Community CRC, whose story I briefly mentioned in last week's post. I hope you will find it as inspirational as I did. — Wendy Hammond
“We are partnering locally with Latter Rain Ministries (Pastored by Bishop Reginald Blackmon) to share the gospel in Fort Wayne, why don’t we partner with a CRC church in El Potrero, Honduras to share the gospel of Jesus Christ globally?” Pastor Jim Halstead challenged the Community CRC church family during a Sunday morning worship service in the summer of 2011. The church agreed to share the gospel globally by adopting a CRC church in Honduras through World Renew and they scheduled their first mission trip to El Potrero, Honduras in April 2012
They adopted a CRC sister church in the town called El Potrero, located in rural Olancho, Honduras. In English, El Potrero means 'pasture.' The name came because before houses were built, the whole area served for pasture for cows. Agriculture is the main source of income in El Potrero and 65% of the population lives in poverty with very limited access to income. The community has no electricity, no running water, and the main water source was from the nearby river (drinking, bathing, washing clothes, etc.). The only source of income and sustenance in their community is farming or livestock (cattle, pigs, chickens) and their annual income was $600-800.
The main objective of their first mission team was to form a relationship with the El Potrero CRC church, to deepen their connection as Christians, and to equip each other to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord decided to unite their bond of friendship quickly by having the El Potrero church building literally blow down during a severe storm down a month before their scheduled visit. The El Potrero church family had no church building, just an empty lot where an adobe brick building used to stand.
When Community CRC mission team arrived in El Potrero (April, 2012), they worshipped together on the empty church lot that the local church had excavated. The two church families slowly began to get to know each other, and enjoyed worshipping together but the need in the community was great. The El Potrero community used the church building not only for their church service but also for their community meetings. The small community of forty families had no community building and they had many additional community needs.
CRC missionary Caspar Geisterfer came later in the week and told us that it would cost $11,000 to build a cement block church building on this site. He committed $1,000 to help them start on the foundation and he challenged us to commit $5,000. I began to share why we would not be able to meet those needs: “We are a small church, we are not making the budget to begin with, and besides that, how would they get the other $5,000 needed to complete the church?”
Geisterfer gently took me aside and shared a simple spiritual truth, “Jim, you are looking at the mountain to be climbed and not to the One who says, ‘every animal of the forest is mine and the cattle on a thousand hills.’ (Psalm 50:10) God brought you to this community one month after their church collapsed-so you could see what He was going to do through your faith in Him to encourage this community. Don’t limit what God wants to do in and through this community because of your lack of faith” I told him that Community CRC would commit to raise $5,000 and we would commit to come back the following year to see what God has done.
A team of three people from Community CRC returned for their second trip to El Potrero, Honduras on April 12-20, 2013. God was able to do far more than all they asked or imagined. The Lord raised over $5,500 not only Community CRC but also from others in the Fort Wayne community to help rebuild the El Potrero church building. Community CRC and others from the Fort Wayne community were also able to help them raise funds to: complete the painting of their new church building ($1,200), provide a medical cabinet and medical training ($500), provide pilas (outdoor sinks) for four families in the village ($1,000), provide school and church supplies ($500) and to take part with their dedication service of their new El Potrero CRC church building.
At the dedication service, we were challenged in two significant ways: El Potero CRC Pastor Livil read how they were able to raise the funds for their new church building. They thanked the missionary and Community CRC for their generous gift. Then he shared how many people sacrificially gave to complete their building. They began to read the names of people in the El Potrero community and neighboring community who donated their cattle, goats, chickens, etc. to provide the additional $5,000 funds to rebuild the church. Yes, the Lord does own the cattle of thousand hills to raise the funds to rebuild His church.
Pastor Livil also shared how the Lord challenged them to build a church building that would hold over two hundred people even though their church has only eighty people. He looked at us and asked us to pray that each El Potrero church member would go out into the community and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others in their community and their neighboring community. I told him I would pray that under one condition — that he would pray the same for Community CRC.
Upon our return to Fort Wayne, we shared about our mission trip to the Community CRC family, I thought back to my challenge in 2011 to partner with a church overseas so we could share the gospel globally. After coming back from visiting our sister church in El Potrero, I am thankful for their challenge to us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ locally. I look forward on returning to El Potrero in 2014 to share what God is doing in Community CRC to share the gospel in Fort Wayne and to hear what He has done in El Potrero to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are planning on visiting El Potrero on March 28 - April 5, 2014 to provide a Vacation Bible School for the children in the village, show the Jesus film, take part with several worship services in El Potrero and to raise funds for pilas and latrines for the El Potrero community.