Around the world | Presbyterian World Mission
Nurturing a mission legacy
Mark and Ashley Wright work to equip church leaders in Honduras.
When Presbyterian mission worker Mark Wright looks at the Presbyterian Church of Honduras, he sees the result of mission efforts that have multiplied.
The Honduran church was started just 50 years ago by missionaries from the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala, which was founded in 1882 by Presbyterian missionaries from the United States.
“For 175 years the Presbyterian church [in the United States] has been sending missionaries into the world, and it truly has made a difference,” he says. “The existence of the Honduran church is an example of how faithfulness in mission long ago lives on in new ways.”
Wright and his wife, Ashley, were appointed in 2009 to serve in Honduras alongside the PC(USA)’s granddaughter church.
Wright likens the Honduran church to the New Testament image of a mustard seed, which is small when planted but can grow to be a large shrub with strong branches. “It’s a church of only 20 congregations—none of which are large, and all of which are very meager in terms of material resources but very big in their faith.”
The Wrights provide theological and leadership training for church leaders and promote congregational self-sufficiency. They also nurture partnerships between congregations in the United States and Honduras.
As he works with congregational leaders, Wright says he is gratified when he sees them grow in confidence. An example is Pastor Ana, whose congregation needed new chairs. She came to Honduran national church leaders and asked for financial help. While the church had the money, the denominational leaders had decided to encourage congregations to take more responsibility for their own needs. They understood that, while it is important to create a mutually supportive denominational community, it is equally critical to empower and break through systems of dependency. Instead of giving the money to the congregation outright, the leaders offered to lend the congregation the money, asking that it repay half the loan. Pastor Ana wasn’t satisfied and came back to the church leaders each month for three months requesting a grant for the entire amount. The church leaders held to their original offer.
Later, Wright saw Pastor Ana while visiting her town. She asked him if they could talk about the chairs. “With a little trepidation, I said, ‘Let’s talk about the chairs.’ ”
Pastor Ana told him that the congregation had decided to buy the chairs on its own. Though it might take a long time, they wanted to experience the joy of knowing they as a congregation could do this.
Wright was elated. “It wasn’t so much about the chairs,” he explains. “It was a change in understanding of who they are and who God made them to be.”
Pat Cole is a communication specialist for the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
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