Missions -

Why we believe the Church Matters —

By Brad Warren

At Engage, we emphasize the importance of the local church on all of our trips because we believe the Church is the hope of the world.

We believe the Church is the tool that God uses every day to bring life, hope and healing into a broken world. In March, a group of students and adult leaders from Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma went on an Engage trip to Honduras. Katelyn Adams, youth minister at “The Kirk” had a profound experience that redefined what Church means to her. The following are her thoughts from the trip that perfectly capture the heart of Engage’s mission principle Church Matters ...


On our trip to Honduras we visited an area called Las Bojitas up in the mountains about 30 miles outside of Tegucigalpa. It took us more than two hours because of the mountain roads. We went up to do some projects for a Hill Climber Coffee farm (which also doubled as a church plant).


When we got there, we split up into a few teams and started on some projects. One group was building a bathroom for the church building, one group was mixing concrete, and my group was moving dirt from one side of the road to the other to level out the ground under the drying racks for the coffee beans.

 

We started on the project with the help of a local guy who was breaking up all the dirt. His name was Rony. After a bit I learned that he was the farm manager, and we chatted some in between working and a language barrier.


When we broke for lunch, we got to hear Rony’s story. Turns out, he’s also the pastor of the church. He started it so he could minister to the workers on the farm. They hire a lot of day workers throughout harvest season to dig holes, plant the coffee, harvest the beans, de-shell them, dry them and roast them. It’s a really big process.


After Rony shared, I asked him how he gets the workers connected with the church, because I was thinking through what a cool evangelism tool this is. I didn’t understand how he moved it from the field into the building.


Felipe (our mission partner and translator) laughed as he conveyed the question, and Rony got a funny look on his face and basically said “We work side by side, all day. That’s how.”

 

We have complicated Church. That’s the biggest thing I learned on this trip. It’s not about programs and events, it’s the long obedience in the same direction. It’s the person right next to you, wherever you are. This church in the mountains of Honduras is not desperately trying to get more people in its doors, it’s quite literally about harvesting out in the field. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. I’ve been thinking about this a lot – the workers are few who will go out into the field. For Pastor Rony’s church, it’s not about getting a congregation, it’s about giving the Gospel. It’s about giving a worker a fair wage and the kind of water that will make him never go thirsty again.


In more ways than one I was reminded that it’s God who does the growing, not us. God is faithful to his Church, are we faithful to his call of the harvest?


There’s one more part of the story. After lunch, Felipe asked a few of the girls to go dig some holes so that they would be ready to plant more coffee. So we hiked up the mountain with post hole diggers and this weird flat tool. A young guy named Edwin was there to teach us, and we started digging.


About 30 minutes in Felipe started laughing at me and the girls, because we were just pounding these flat tools into the ground trying to dig with them, and we were getting frustrated. We’d been working on the same holes since we started and Edwin had done a whole line by himself. So Felipe stopped us and said, “Typical gringos, trying to work way too hard. Watch how he does it.” And he pointed at Edwin.

 

As we watched him, he was so gentle with the tool. He just dropped it in and twisted, and the dirt came out. And he was moving 10 times faster than we were.


When the girls finished their hole, we sat down around it, exhausted. I asked them about what Pastor Rony said. We talked about how ministry happens literally right here, around holes in a field. But we make it so much more complicated back home. They decided to pray over that hole, and the worker who would plant there, and the worker who would eventually harvest the coffee from it. And so we prayed … that they would have a conversation in this field about Jesus and come to know him for the first time.


That afternoon was my favorite of the trip. I think God blew open some big ideas I have about Church. As I’ve reflected back over this story, I can’t help but think of Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message.

 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

 

“Watch how I do it.” That’s what this trip was to me – watching how they do it. Church. Evangelism. Loving one another. Serving. Watch how they do it.