In January of 2023 a team of fourteen people from Explore Church went to serve with Catracho Missions in Comayagua, Honduras. This was an intense, rugged adventure deep in the heart of the Honduran mountains. Catracho missions has an incredible ministry to indigenous people. The following is a blog from Tom Attard, one of our team members.
Sunday, Day 6
On Sunday our group led an outreach to the local families. It was a Christmas celebration for the local kids and their families. Everyone on the team had a different task. Amanda checked in the group of children, got their names, and grouped them together for a VBS-style presentation. They played games, sang songs, and had a Bible story presentation. In the end, Kevin and Tom Wolf handed out gifts to each of the children. Sacha helped lead a sewing class for the women.
It was an awesome success.
Sixty-four kids came, with 27 moms and 13 babies. It was awesome to see The Catratcho Mission reaching their local community and connecting with the families in the area.
As we were preparing for the outreach and dividing tasks among the group, I was informed that I would be in charge of entertaining the men. I was a little bit nervous a first, but as the details emerged about the local hombre my trepidation increased. The men had never been invited into the mission. Many of the men in the area were not safe for women and children to be around. There was a prevalent problem of rape in the area. Girls as young as 12 or 13 years old had been raped and impregnated. The men were very resistant toward the church.
The predominantly Catholic culture did not allow women to hear Bible teaching or to own a Bible. Only priests were allowed to teach or share the gospel.
The men didn’t want Catratcho missions witnessing to the women and wouldn’t allow them into their homes if they knew they were teaching from the Bible. The men were the key to gaining a place to teach and witness to their families.
The men had total control over what happened in their households. The sewing and crafting classes for the women were a way to be able to share parts of Bible teaching with the women. To top it all off, I had only taken high school Spanish, over 20 years ago, and I would not have a translator. They asked me to tell them stories about my life and to find a way to include the gospel.
A few men arrived with the women and children, eventually totaling 6. None of them came in with the women and children but hung around the gate, standing silently. I was tasked with inviting them in to have coffee with me. After meeting several men, I offered them coffee. An few took me up on my offer but still refused to come in.
Switching gears, I began to bring them coffee outside the gate. With my little bit of Spanish, it was hard to make small talk. I pivoted again and began offering them chocolates that I had received as a birthday present from my wife the day before. Pastor Paul encouraged me to ask them about their work, which they were more willing to talk about. I began to urge them to “entre la puetra” (come in the door) and offered them more coffee. I entered and waited with “mas café” (more coffee) one by one, they slowly trickled in.
I knew from previous experience that the Honduran men I had met were extremely interested in my archery hunting photos and stories.
So I had planned on showing them some of the animals I had harvested and telling them stories of the hunt. It was complicated, but with lots of gestures, my limited vocabulary, photos, and help from Pastor Paul, I got the basic stories across. To them, seeing all the “carne” in my freezer was memorizing. When Pastor Paul had first asked me to somehow relate my stories to the gospel, I remembered thinking, “yeah right, that seems impossible.”
I could not think of any way to relate hunting stories to Jesus. I was still nervous and struggling to speak, but as I stammered it popped into my head mid-sentence. When I kill a deer or elk, I am thankful to God for the meat it provides. The meat of the deer gives my physical body life.
The deer gave its life, so that I could live, just like Jesus gave his life so that my spirit might live. Just like I eat the deer to make my physical body live, Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood with have eternal life.” He is the bread of life. It is a free gift, we all can “taste and see that the Lord is good.” The men nodded in agreement, they seemed to understand.
Pastor Paul helped me to lead them in a prayer to ask God to come and reveal himself to them. I explained that God doesn’t speak English, but he speaks the language of the heart. That they could hear his message directly from him, from his Holy Spirit.
I couldn’t believe that at exactly the right time, God gave me the words to say.
If we step out in faith, God will meet us in the midst of our struggles and give us the words to say. Afterward, Pastor Paul told me that at least two of the men had never heard the gospel before and that one of the older men, Oscar, owned much of the coffee plantations in the area and was a leader in the community. Never in my life would I have ever guessed that God would use my hobby of archery hunting to help me gain an audience and share the gospel, but he did.
Check back each day as we follow Explore Church, Missoula on their journey to Honduras.