Dian R. Kidd, UBA Associate Director (Houston: July 2014)
Rev. Oscar Hall, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Melrose and Staff Chaplain in the Department of Spiritual Care at Houston Methodist Hospital in the Medical Center, has recently returned from a mission trip to Honduras, one of the countries from which nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed into the U.S. since last October. (www.cbp.gov) Hall and his mission team of 7 observed first-hand the poverty and extreme danger in which families live.
"We offered ministry in the most dangerous community, in San Pedro Sula," says Chaplain Hall, "We were in Chamalecon. Not even the Honduran taxi cab will venture into that community. On our way to and from the church during the week, we saw at least two dead bodies lying along the roadside. These are people who have been shot to death because they were alleged thieves."
Six others ventured on this mission trip with Rev. Hall: 5 members from Iglesia Bautista Melrose, a Houston dentist who offered dental care, and another pastor of a local non-denominational church. While this was Hall's third trip to Honduras, others in the group were going for the first time. "Those who had made this trip for the first time," says Hall, "suddenly became aware of how dangerous the place is. They also were impacted by the love and simplicity of the people, their openness to the gospel, and their ability to appear happy in the midst of so much poverty and misery."
Hall recounts that the group delivered hospital supplies to one of the public hospitals in San Pedro Sula. Hospital rooms had no sanitary facilities. They were dirty and crowded with patients sleeping in unclean beds. As prescriptions were written, family members were responsible for rushing to the pharmacy to purchase the medication and bring it back to the hospital in order to give it to the patients. Hall is concerned for patients whose families are unable to afford the medicine.
Poverty is not the only concern. "In some areas, they are literally living in a war zone," says Chaplain Hall. "They are all living in an incredibly insecure place. The disheartening thing about that is that there is no help coming and no solution to the problem. Things seem to be getting worse."
Chaplain Hall and his team of six provided some hope and relief to some during this mission trip. The dentist and two more doctors from Honduras provided cleaning, extractions, and general dental care to 124 children. They delivered 128 backpacks and 140 pairs of shoes.
Many received spiritual hope as well. The team shared the good news of the gospel of Christ. On the first evening Chaplain Hall reports that 10 people accepted Christ. The next evening there were another 5 professions. After sharing the gospel with 120 children in a bilingual school, Chaplain Hall saw 12 young men and women accept Christ.
In the sponsoring church of Fourth Iglesia Bautista, 46 responded to Christ. One might wonder how the team was kept safe. "The good thing," says Hall, "is that 4th Iglesia Bautista has 'good favor' among the gang leaders. The pastor provides funeral services for their fallen comrades free of charge. A member of the church who is a dentist provides free dental care for the gang members." Thus, the church and its members are afforded a measure of protection. The church is exempted from the gang's "war tax" and is allowed to remain open to the public.
It is, no doubt, an uneasy peace.
For information of how to respond to the needs of the children crossing our borders, click here.