A community known as Los Bordos stretches along the banks of the river that winds through the city of San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras. The thousands of people living here are forced to contend with frequent flooding when the river bursts its banks, washing away their makeshift homes and the few possessions they have. This, along with limited work and education opportunities, keeps them trapped in poverty.
The coronavirus pandemic has made living conditions even worse. As people in the city lost their jobs and their homes, many set up shelter by the river, causing the population of Los Bordos to increase by more than 50 per cent in the past year. With no access to clean drinking water or a sewage system, the crowded community is vulnerable to the spread of disease.
Pastor Eddy has been living with his wife and three children in Los Bordos for many years, passionately and faithfully serving his church and community. And now, Tearfund’s local partner has helped him take his community work to the next level.
Uniting pastors and leaders
Working alongside 26 churches, Tearfund’s local partner organization, Comisión de Acción Social Menonita (CASM), is helping the community in Los Bordos to lift themselves out of poverty. They are doing this by providing education and employment opportunities, and empowering people to advocate for their right to have a safe and healthy place to live.
CASM is helping to equip local pastors to be leaders – not just in spiritual matters, but in matters of social justice and community development. Pastor Eddy and other local pastors received training in ‘integral mission’ – this includes following Jesus’ example in speaking up for the most vulnerable, meeting physical and emotional needs, restoring relationships and promoting peaceful coexistence between and within communities.
"It has been so encouraging to see many pastors in the local community attend the training, grow in their confidence and leadership, and commit to working together," says Alexis Pacheco, who oversees Tearfund’s work in Central America. "They know the needs of their community and they are now better equipped to meet those needs."
"I have been to many trainings, and in all of them I learn. I believe that if you are willing to help, you are also willing to learn more every day," says Pastor Eddy. "I have learned a lot on how to work united as a church and community, for the wellbeing of our community."
As part of the training, local churches and organizations in Los Bordos met together to discuss and find solutions to the problems the community was facing, such as lack of proper housing and clean water. These long-term projects will be overseen by community leaders such as Pastor Eddy.
A way out of poverty
The training also focuses on raising people’s confidence and skills so that they could find work. This included support with emotional wellbeing, vocational training, communication skills, and how to find and apply for jobs.
Pastor Eddy can already see the benefits of working in collaboration with local churches, as they are able to do much more in the community as a team, than they were able to do separately.
"We have always been close to other churches, but only with CASM have we learned to work together in these difficult times," says Pastor Eddy. "It has been good. God is good."
The community is growing together, and progress is being made. Every day, more people are being empowered with skills that will enable them to pursue new employment opportunities and stand up for their rights. And Pastor Eddy and the other local pastors are freshly inspired to share the love of Jesus in practical ways and lead their community out of poverty.
Pastor Eddy says: "I ask for prayer that there are always organizations like CASM that help us not only by giving aid but also by training our young people and us."
Thank you for Pastor Eddy and the other pastors in Los Bordos who are committed to serving their community. We ask that you will bless them and give them strength and wisdom as they lead. We lift up the whole community and pray that people will continue to get the support they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
Thank you Lord for how you are working through the church. We pray that even more churches around the world will come together to show your love to those in need. As Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23, we pray that the church will unite and become one.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.