Pictures: Left, the big pick-up designed for fording rivers; Middle: canoes waiting to take us to Palacios; Right: Palacios river front
Pastor Saul is from the remote Mosquito Coast region. He had been leading a church in his village when he heard about GLOMOS training in San Pedro Sula (12 hours journey away). Determined to get better at his ministry he enrolled in the course and soon was advancing well in his studies, making the 12 hour journey twice a month to attend his training.
Following training he felt strongly that there were many Christian leaders in his region who would benefit from GLOMOS training, but who wouldn’t be able to make the journey to San Pedro Sula each month. So, he decided to run his own version of GLOMOS in his village. He persuaded all the local leaders to visit him in his village each month, and dutifully took them through the material that he had studied. Soon all 37 leaders were passionately attending the classes each month, keen to pick up the new ministry skills on offer in each new module.
But that wasn’t all. He decided that to celebrate their success at the end of the course he would organise a graduation ceremony for them in the style of his own graduation. He even invited Gloria Fernendez (national director of Global Action) to preside over the ceremony and present the certificates. Gloria invited Phil Long (president of Global Action) and myself along to participate in this ceremony. We were pleased to make the journey to this special event.
The journey to the village was eye opening. We travelled along bumpy, bad quality jungle roads for about 10 hours, until the terrain became too rough for our standard 4-wheel drives. Near the border with the Mosquitia district we were forced to swap our cars for a huge monster truck that would allow us to ford the swollen jungle rivers of Mosquitia. However, during our traverse of the second river, the terrain became so rough that one of the wheels broke off the truck’s axel and we were forced to continue the journey with 3 vertical wheels and 1 dangling, horizontal one. Our driver told us later that the terrain was so rough that having axels break was a regular occurrence, and that he had all the equipment at home to weld the axel back together.
Finally, we reached a landing by a huge river that would have been impossible to ford. Here we all bundled into canoes waiting with high power engines and we raced up river channels, connecting onto different rivers through the complex networks of channels that connected them. Eventually, after travelling about 10 miles, we came to the village where Pastor Saul lives. It is hard to describe how remote and inaccessible this village is.
Pictures: Right, graduation ceremony in Palacios; Middle, Phil Long, president of Global Action presents an award; Right: sunset on the river
Here we presented a seminar on leadership to the eager graduates, before doing a dress-rehearsal for the graduation. The graduation itself was a spectacular affair. The whole community turned out in their best clothes to watch the proud graduates process up to the stage and receive their certificates. There were demonstrations of traditional Garifuna dancing and singing (the Garifuna people are descendants of African slaves who worked the plantations in Central America), and volunteers prepared a traditional meal for everyone who attended the celebrations. For the pastors, many of whom have never graduated from anything before, this was a proud day indeed.
As well as the fun and celebrations there was also a great spiritual component to the ceremony. During the ceremony, Phil, Gloria and I had the privilege of washing the graduates’ feet – a symbol of our commissioning them for ministry. This was a very powerful time, with many of the graduates breaking down in tears as we prayed for them. We pray that that this will be a seminal moment in their lives that they will be able to look back on for encouragement in their future ministries.
We also got the chance to share the gospel with the hundreds of community members who came to see the ceremony. We pray that God will work through the words shared at this graduation, as well as the ministries of our graduates as they seek to bring hope and life to this community.
Thank you for your support for this great work, which is helping equip Christian leaders working in very remote parts of the world.