Mark Smith, Jeff Smith and Doug Benshoof left San Antonio on Wednesday, April 20 to head towards our final gospel planting and discipleship initiative for the year before we kick off a new season of water projects. They flew into Tegucigalpa, met up with Gustavo and Arnoldo and then drove 6 hours to Trojas to meet up with our Key Men that have been studying the gospel with us since we met them on water projects. Upon arrival in Trojas, the entire team had this feeling of really having everything from the past few years come full circle.
Most of these Key Men came to our very first gospel conference 3 years ago. At that time, they were young men searching for God after experiencing a life change during one of our water projects. In the course of these projects, they worked side by side with IMPACT volunteers to bring a clean water system to their villages while sharing their life experiences and struggles and hearing about the grace of God. This week, they return as teachers because their lives have been transformed by the Good News of Jesus!
We were thrilled to see 40 men from 8 different water projects join us on Thursday and Friday. We came together for group teachings, shared scriptures and insights and broke up into smaller groups to discuss application of these lessons.
These return visits have become so important for IMPACT because they are a catalyst for great change. All of the discussion leaders were new Kingdom seekers just three years ago. Now they are leading others because their lives, marriages, and their hearts have been transformed by the Gospel.
It has been an incredible conference. Amazing to witness the growth, leadership and purpose that these men show for their lives now. It is confirmation that IMPACT is about even more than bringing clean water to a village in need. Our water projects are an opportunity for us to meet these men, to change their existing life trajectory and to be ambassadors of Christ to our Honduran brothers.
The first day of our Key Man conference was such an encouragement to hear how the men’s lives have changed, marriages transformed and how they are meeting with other men in their villages to challenge them to be agents of change in their communities. Today we are building on this idea of being agents of change and ways to do this together as a team.
As iron sharpens iron,so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
We are challenging the men to memorize the following passage from Isaiah, pray about it and ask God what He wants us to do as an “oak of righteousness”.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
We met Wilmer last year in Monte Fresco and we were immediately impacted by his enthusiasm and industriousness in his work and home. Wilmer became a Christian and has stayed in touch with the IMPACT team to learn more and deepen his understanding of the gospel. His wife, however, did not share his zeal for this new life and they separated. Wilmer was hurt and disappointed but he continued to have faith that God’s hand was on his life and he continued to study and be obedient to God’s call.
Two days before our arrival, Wilmer’s wife called him and asked for forgiveness. She told him that she wants to walk with him and with the Lord! Mark and Gustavo met with her while visiting the villages earlier in the week and said she is a changed woman. This reconciliation is an answer to prayers!! Wilmer is encouraged to challenge other men to be an agent of change in their communities and help other couples strengthen their marriages.
Ricardo’s story is one of commitment and perseverance to building The Kingdom. He is from one of the more impoverished communities called Santa Fe. Prior to the conference, he made a commitment to help another villager with their harvest. In order to attend the conference, he paid for another man to work in his place during the harvest. Please pray that his dedication is blessed and that his time with us bears great fruit.
As we began the first day of the conference, we were immediately blessed and overcome by the testimonies coming from our compañeros. They have seen life changes, restored marriages and are full of excitement and trust seeing God at work.
We have intentionally kept this group smaller for more personal work but the men are representing several villages that we’ve worked in over the past several years: Villa Real, Santa Fe, El Portillo, El Guano, Las Brisas and Monte Fresco. We had an initial one hour session and Jeff led the group in a prayer time focused on Romans 8:26 – 27:
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
We are showing them a study exercise that will help them understand some ways to mine the Bible and listen to God. We are doing this by folding a paper into thirds and breaking down the passages.
What is God saying to you here in this passage?
What is God asking you to do and what will you do with what you have heard from God in this passage?
How will you pray this passage?
The overall goal in this exercise is to cover important themes, specific topics and also help to show how to go about getting into the Word to listen to God and then to obey Him. Specific themes that we are discussing are: