It was September 2008, right after his first discipleship class, that this TACA Airline commercial pilot wanted to know when the next baptism service was going to be held. Since a public baptism makes the statement “I am an Evangelical,” making the decision to be baptized usually takes a new believer a significant amount of time.
Old Spanish Christendom is thoroughly woven into the culture of Latin America and is a part of all of the major life milestones: birth, coming of age (first communion) and marriage. Therefore if someone turns from the traditional religion to identify themselves as an evangelical believer, they are not perceived to be a good “family” person. This pressure looms over many who come to faith in Jesus. But here was Jacobo wanting to be baptized, wanting to make a public declaration of his faith, just a few weeks after turning to Christ.
The impact that Impacto church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is having on the city is visible, and Keith Moore is passionate about raising up disciples and leaders to multiply the church throughout Honduras and the world. Keith and Dawn Moore came to Honduras eight years ago, as TEAM missionaries from Bogota, Colombia, after sensing a new direction from the Lord and an increasingly dangerous situation in Colombia. TEAM missionaries Paul and Liz Bowman accompanied the Moores, along with Colombian pastor Norberto Gutierrez and his family. This team was sent to establish an impact church from the foundation that was laid by International Mission Board missionary, Dr. Harms. Paul and Liz Bowman now serve in Spain, but other TEAM missionaries, Pepper and Gabriela Horn, are now serving in Honduras. In March of 2009 the Impacto church in Tegucigalpa will celebrate eight years of ministry.
Over the last eight years, the power of the Gospel has been displayed in ways that have excited, amazed and humbled Keith and the others working at Impacto. As we sat in the living room of an apartment, four floors up, overlooking the city, talking about Honduras, story after story was told of the amazing things God has done in people's lives. There is the story of the General in the Honduran army who came to Christ and his life, his marriage, and his family were put back together. Many stories are told of people who didn't have apparent needs; but under the façade were broken homes, teenagers committing suicide and divorces tearing lives apart. But by the grace of God through the ministry of Impacto, many lives have been changed.
Where the church started with just a couple of families and visitors, it has grown to over 750 on a Sunday. Every March the church celebrates a “Birthday Sunday” when all of those who have come to know Jesus Christ since the last celebration place a candle on several small cakes making one large cake in the shape of a cross. At the last Birthday Sunday Anniversary service, over 150 candles were put in the cakes signifying the start of their relationship with Christ, directly because of Impacto!
Discipleship and training are the keys to the multiplication and reproduction of the ministry of Impacto throughout Honduras. A church-based leadership training program allows Impacto to directly touch each church member’s life and to walk hand-in-hand through some of the basic issues of Christianity such as prayer, baptism and salvation. Each of the people that represent these transformations have been through a one-on-one discipleship class, and are now empowered to teach and lead someone else in the same way. Young men sensing a call to ministry can become a part of the Sembrar (“to plant” in Spanish) program. This is a four-year, full-time program in which they study and train with the pastors every day. Keith Moore, Pepper Horn and Norberto Gutierrez are all involved in teaching and discipling these young men, teaching various classes throughout the year. “The key to everything is growing new leaders,” says Keith as he reflects on the current students in the Sembrar program. Four are involved at the main Impacto church, and four others at the Point of Impact churches. The main Impacto church of Tegucigalpa planted these Point of Impact churches in the squatter neighborhoods of Ayestas, (the name is taken from the date that the first squatters settled into this land), and Villa Nueva.
This past October was the ordination service for three Sembrar students. Through Sembrar, Impacto reproduces itself by training pastors and leaders who are ready to go out and start new works throughout Honduras. Now, even the vision of the pastors of these three Point of Impact churches includes planting new churches in other areas of their communities. Multiplication through training is an important part of the vision of Impacto. Esteban Elvir, recently ordained and now serving as the pastor over the three Point of Impact churches, sees his Sembrar training as instrumental in preparing him for ministry. While we drive through the city of Tegucigalpa from one church to the next, it is clear that this discipleship and training has truly taken root in his life. He responds that evangelism, sharing one’s faith with everyone, and one-on-one discipleship are the most important functions of an Impact church. He sees himself as a “Moses” – trained in the best school and the best colleges, connected to a number of influential individuals, and the son of a diplomat; yet his heart beats for the poor and downtrodden, his own people – the people he came from when his parents adopted him from a poor family living in southern Honduras.
Through planting churches in other areas of the city, Impacto also has an opportunity to meet some of the basic needs of the people. In Ayestas, and Villa Nueva, each site has a medical clinic where a patient can pay $2 to receive medical care and free medicine. They also have a before and after school program to help the local children with their studies and to provide a safe environment for them to play and interact with others.
Making disciples, training leaders, and church multiplication are the heartbeat of Impacto in Tegucigalpa. Almost every day of the week there is a Bible study, training class, small group, or other activities taking place at the church – a church that is serious and passionate about reaching and making an impact in the country of Honduras and even the world.
-Written by Robert Johnson
-Photography by Robert Johnson
[Originally Published in TEAMHorizons March 2009]Download This Issue of TEAMHorizons