Jose & Celida Penate-Aceves
Ana Beatriz Venegas
Honduras is located in the heart of the Americas. It is rich in natural resources, many of which are exploited by foreign companies that take the wealth out of the country. As a result the Honduran people are left with high levels of poverty, which are only exacerbated by acts of political corruption within institutions and the government. Lamentably, people in the government structure don’t fight against corruption; on the contrary, they become a part of it.
Currently, Honduras lives under oppressive conditions that are tacitly condoned by major players in the international diplomatic corps. Its citizens are extremely politically polarized. Honduras also experiences high levels of violence and is ranked as one of the five most dangerous countries in the world without a war. Because of these realities, the Honduran people have grown to accept assassinations, extortion and domestic violence as the daily bread. Poverty and violence have also created massive waves of immigration. Looking for more job opportunities and a better life, Honduran immigrants suffer many human right violations along their journeys.
The country also suffers from a poor education system that does not respond to the basic needs of the Honduran people. Education levels across the country are very low as well, and many families living in poverty do not emphasize the importance of education for their children.
Despite – or perhaps because of – these hardships, Honduran Christians live a deep and vibrant faith that is rooted in their experience of survival. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches are the majority, followed by the Catholic Church. Christian communities really appreciate missionaries, but don’t see the missionary life as an option for themselves because of their self-perceived lens of inferiority. Honduras is, indeed, a huge mission territory.
Our InnerChange team is located in the "Ciudad Guzman” barrio on the periphery of Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital city. It is part of a large marginal community known as “La Nueva Capital”, which is considered one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa. People here live in extreme poverty. This neighborhood was once the headquarters for organized crime, and at that time, La Nueva Capital gained its current reputation. Gang activity, drug trafficking, waves of violence and common delinquency still exist in the neighborhood, but the stigma surrounding this area is larger than the reality. People from this neighborhood must work hard, not only to survive their extreme poverty, but also to bear the heavy cross of rejection and marginalization due to the stigma of simply residing in La Nueva Capital. In church life, the missionary - God’s kingdom worker – is deeply appreciated, particularly in La Guzmán, where solidarity and community work are highly valued by the people.
The InnerCHANGE Honduras team, inspired by Mathew 24, works in different ministries in our community. You are invited to come and participate in the following:
Children's Dining Hall - Nutrition Program
Many of the children in our community do not get enough of the nutritious food that they need at home. As a response we built a dining hall in which we serve one healthy meal per day, Tuesdays to Fridays. Through this ministry, we can interact with over 50 children and a community of dedicated volunteers (adolescents, young people, and adults). As ministers among them we are able to:
- Lead regular mentoring times with the children (individually and/or in groups).
- Lead them in Bible studies.
- Play sports together or just lead them in fun and crazy games.
- Lead well planned field trips.
- Engage them in Bible studies.
- Mentor individual volunteers.
- Prepare and cook the meals for our children with them.
- Clean up together after serving meals.
- Repairing part of the existing structure.
- Working on a particular construction project.
- Promote volunteer work on specific construction projects with our neighbors.
Youth and Adolescents Ministry
We accompany approximately 20 young people through a local youth outreach center called CDA, which offers them healthy alternatives to the gangs. We promote and participate in a wide range of activities that the CDA has for young people, including music, art, exercise, and computers.
“Sembradores de Paz” program for Boys and Girls.
Within the violence prevention focus of Caritas Honduras, “Sembradores de Paz”(Sowers of Peace) is a national movement for boys and girls in which they receive training on values and leadership in order to become peacemakers in the neighborhood. We are part of that network forming groups of boys and girls with a maximum of 10 members per group. Currently we lead at least two small groups. The participants are the same children who come to the Dining Hall for the Nutrition Program, but we envision expanding the Sembradores program to reach other children in the neighborhood. We gather formally once a week and we visit children’s homes regularly.
As opportunities arise, and as capacity allows, we participate in both Christian and secular sponsored community development initiatives, thus helping to seek the common good, with and for our neighbors. In the past this has included: the construction of a Medical Clinic, a well and water distribution project, a Youth Outreach Center (CDA), a Church sanctuary, a local school, and more.
We are highly recommended to practice “visiting” intentional. Visiting home/families is part of our incarnational ministry and help us to have a very good lecture of the families and community reality.