By Bishop Jonathan Holston
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
During the week of June 28-July 5, I was privileged to travel with a team of 13 youth and clergy led by our team leader Chris Lynch from the Palmetto State to Honduras.
Along with a contingent of young people and adults from the Kentucky Annual Conference, we partnered with HOI (a missionary sending ministry formerly known as Honduras Outreach, Inc.) to assist families in one of the most remote and impoverished parts of Honduras. Located in the Agalta Valley, near San Esteban, in the department (state) of Olancho, the Rancho El Paraiso served as our home-away-from-home. Each day between breakfast and dinner, our team worked in the surrounding Honduran villages mixing cement (volcano style), pouring concrete floors, building latrines, learning Spanish, leading vacation Bible school and experiencing the love of Christ in the lives of the men, women and children of Honduras.
Indeed, it was a time of rejoicing in a good day’s work alongside our new friends. As with any mission trip, we were the ones blessed in this mission endeavor.
As we landed and deplaned, passed through Immigration and Customs, retrieved our luggage and greeted our families, we learned of what is being called a humanitarian crisis being experienced at the borders of our nation with children crossing into the United States from Guatemala, Nicaragua, as well as the very country we had visited, Honduras. These children reminded us of the girls and boys we met in the Agalta Valley. Our United Methodist Church, through the five Texas Annual Conferences and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is seeking to be of assistance in these moments of concern. As the elected officials on the local, state and federal level sort out the way forward, the church is responding.
Felecia and I know what it is to feel a sense of helplessness and need of assistance in trying times. It was Wednesday, April 27, 2011, at 5:09 p.m., that we received a call while preparing for Wednesday Night Supper at St. James United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Our daughter, Brittany, was calling us at the very time she was seeking shelter from a devastating F5 tornado ravaging the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was a terrifying moment.
When the storm was over, there was significant property damage and loss of life. While the elected officials on the local, state and federal level sorted out their way forward, the church responded. The members of First UMC of Tuscaloosa provided shelter, food and the love of Christ. For their generosity of compassion, community and hope, we are forever grateful.
The United Methodist Church Council of Bishops Executive Committee calls on all United Methodists “to pray, reflect on God’s Word and engage in acts of compassion concerning the humanitarian crisis of thousands of unaccompanied children on the southern border of the United States.”
Jesus invited us to a ministry of compassion, community and hope; and when the church responds, I believe it is a more excellent way.
By Bishop Jonathan Holston