On July 22, seven members of the Brazil First Church of Nazarene left Indiana for a trip to the remote villages of Honduras to participate in the "Jesus Film Project." The group consisted of Rhonda and Steve Schafer, Rick Wetnight, Donna Bridgewater, Jerad Heffner, and Tom and Mary Sue Jackson.
"We had the complete support of our church," smiled Rhonda Schafer, who felt everyone was changed forever by the wonderful people they visited, and helped. "It was such an amazing thing to be a part of."
Spreading the word of God according to Matthew 28:19, "Go ye unto all the world to teach", the group clung to these words as they ventured out into the most remote areas of Honduras.
"We left Indiana and entered into another world entirely," said Mary Sue Jackson of the small country she grew to love during the short visit.
Honduras, located in Central America, boasts some very modern cities in its largest populated areas, but just outside these metropolitan limits is another world.
Seguatepecaue, with a population the size of Terre Haute, is an extremely rural world where barbed wire, metal spikes, or broken jags of glass encircle the roofs of homes like mini fortresses to protect homeowners' belongings. This was where the group lived during their stay in Honduras to share the Jesus Film.
Translated into more than 850 languages and shown in over 200 countries the last 15 years, the film is a driving force in bringing Christianity to people around the world.
These villages consisted of clusters of one- or two-room huts without doors to lock and no electricity or running water. In these small areas, many of which are secluded in mountainous terrain, was where the film was appreciated the most.
It cost $6,000 for volunteers to take the film into these remote areas.
Participating churches raise the funds to purchase the equipment and have volunteers, who pay their own travel expenses, deliver the film and other materials needed to bring people to Christ while helping with light construction projects. When these volunteers return home they leave behind the equipment so the film can be shared with even more people.
The audience, many who have never experienced a movie, sit completely enthralled by the images shown on screens placed in open soccer fields, on the sides of buildings, and in the middle of forest clearings.
"They'd just flood out of the mountains every time we showed the movie," said Jackson. "It was difficult to get an accurate count sometimes of the people attending."
Driving along rutted dirt roads at 5 mph, the group went out into rural areas with the film equipment, four "tent chapels", which are to be used for villagers to establish places to hold services, 90 "Evangi-Cubes", a Rubic's Cube style puzzle that teaches the story of Christ's life, and other religious materials needed to start congregations.
Two interpreters joined the group, whose only Spanish speaking member was Jerad Heffner: Marlon, 20, a pre-med college student, and Moses, 14, the son of a local pastor, helped bridge the language barrier with the villagers.
"They were wonderful," said Jackson of the two young men. "But the people were so friendly and inviting, many times we just didn't need them."
Wherever the group went, the villagers welcomed them into their modest homes and families: Family is priority one with the Honduran people, and hospitality is a close second. The group was amazed at the level of contentment for life that these people shared at every opportunity.
"Everyone in the community watched over each other and their children with such love, it was heart warming." said Schafer. "We could learn so much from them."
The group tried to return the generous hospitality of the villagers by helping to build a water tank for one community and doing light construction on a young woman's house who was raising her child while preparing for another on the way and supporting four orphans in a two-room hovel. Both women agreed the people were the most incredible part of the journey.
"I'm not sure who ministered to who," said Jackson about the villagers they encountered.
During the trip, the group showed the hour-long film four times to close to 1,000 people and had 120 children and adults accept Christ into their lives.
"The return on our dollar was incredible," said Schafer, who explained that for every dollar raised three people will see the film, and for every $3 one person will become a new believer. "It was amazing to take the gospel to such an eager group of people so willing to accept Jesus. It was fulfilling to be a part of the great commission."
When asked if anyone became sick during the trip, both women laughed at the memories that flooded back. Everyone, even with being as careful as possible, experienced dysentery from the water; which is not treated in the rural areas and many times looks like mud.
"We'd do it again in a minute," laughed both women. "Even with getting so terribly sick. It's definitely a dream goal for our church to do this again another year."