A letter from Mark and Ashley Wright in Honduras
Many of you are probably familiar with the “Souper Bowl.” No, not the gridiron championship, but the “Souper Bowl of Caring,” cleverly named and held at the same time as the BIG Game. This year over 8,000 groups participated and raised nearly $7.5 million in cash and food items to help feed those in real need. Since its inception by a Presbyterian youth seminary intern in 1990 the Souper Bowl will soon reach $100 million donated to programs to feed the hungry
One particular youth group, “Imago Dei” from the Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Chester, Pennsylvania, had been enthusiastically supporting the program for some time. But over the years they’ve also been deepening their understanding of “mission.” Imago Dei has spent the last three years forming a very special, intentional relationship with youth in the Presbytery of Honduras and especially the Peña de Horeb Church. Having traveled to Honduras, they knew the material poverty in which so many here live, and they asked if some of their collection could be helpful to the church in Honduras. I quickly said, “Yes! Hunger is a very real issue within the church, and we struggle to find ways to help.”
It was February, but I delayed having them send the funds for several months. “Sure, “ I thought, “we can buy rice, oats, and milk for merienda (a feeding project for children in the churches), and that would be a good thing.” “But, what,” I wondered, without having a good answer of my own, “is an innovative way that we can leverage those funds to have a more lasting impact on church members in need?” I brought the question to the Presbytery leaders as to how they would like to use this gift, thinking that, most likely, they would want to buy the rice and oats, or perhaps they knew some particular families in extreme need, and the money would be spent, food shared, and that would be the end of this particular “gift.” It would have been a good use of the funds.
Instead, the leaders surprised me with their insight and forward-thinking in a way that delighted me greatly. They said, “Why not use this in a way that is more sustainable, that helps far more than just immediate need and invites the recipients to feed themselves? Most of the pastors and members of the rural churches can find access to bits of land for planting the beans and corn they eat year round. But they need to buy seed and fertilizer. They don’t have that money, and getting a loan can be difficult and very costly. What if this money can serve as a fund that they can borrow from for their planting and pay back at harvest time with a little extra money, or a small portion of the crop, which could be given to others who can’t farm themselves?”
“Give a man, a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime,” I thought!
Well, more or less...
They already know how to fish. What they need is some help to buy hooks and bait. They can take it from there and hold their heads high as they provide for their families’ needs and, perhaps, even have a bit to serve others.
Especially for the pastors, who most often receive very little compensation from the church for their long hours of service and caring, such a thoughtful use of this gift is a blessing. It not only fills the belly but also provides dignity to men and women, pastors and church members alike, whose life circumstances, culture, and society often strip them of dignity and make them feel worthless.
As I thought about the sharing of the youth of West Chester, Pa., with their friends in the Presbyterian Church of Honduras, I was reminded of Paul’s writing to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians chapter 8) as he talks about the “generous undertaking” under way to help the needy in Jerusalem. Paul tells us of the churches of Macedonia, “begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints” (v. 4).
In Honduras there are countless “missions,” large and small, each doing good work in its own way. But Paul reminds us of our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, in “sharing in this ministry to the saints.” I am sharing this story of the Imago Dei youth and “Souper Bowl” because, for me, it brings together so many things about healthy mission and relationships within the Body. And, it brings me great joy to see my brothers and sisters in the church here in Honduras looking beyond the here and now and thinking about how a blessing can be managed wisely to have deeper, lasting benefit for themselves and for others. Together with the Imago Dei youth, they are growing in understanding and confidence in what it means to be the Body of Christ, and they are believing in who God has made them to be as gifted and capable sons and daughters of God. What a blessing to know that God is using us as part of this growth.
They have planted their seeds and fertilized the field. Soon will come the harvest. Your gifts, visits, prayer, and commitment to learn more continue to help us all in this good work that God has begun. Thank you! Pray for us. Pray for the harvest. Please continue in your support. As the apostle says, “Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking" (v. 7). Get creative! Let me know how you too would like to “excel in everything”!
Mark and Ashley Wright
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