Newsletter- July 2001
We greet you once again in the name of Jesus Christ. As some of you know, Chuck was in the States during the month of April. He, Socorro Vasquez, Moncho Enamorado, and Connie (Chuck's mother) returned to Honduras in a small 20 passenger bus. This bus has been a blessing to the congregation of Siguatepeque. We are able to pick up six families who were not able to come to church. They live a long distance from the church building and do not have transportation.
The bus has been used now for four months. As a result of these people attending church, four of them have asked for baptismal classes and church attendance has doubled. Chuck has classes with these people on Tuesday nights. We still have not received the registration papers for the bus from the government. A government employee misread the registration number of the bus, so the paper work had to be done all over again. We hope to receive these papers in the next few weeks.
Pray that the bus ministry will prosper. Four of the families that ride the bus bring regular visitors with them. On a good day we have about 22 people riding the bus. Pray that we receive the bus papers soon. We have a trip planned in August to go to a village called San Nicolas. This is where Socorro does missionary work. Our congregation's choir will sing at a baptism there. Without the papers we will not be able to travel outside of Siguatepeque.
The brethren here in Siguatepeque are having money-making projects to pay for bus expenses. We sold hamburgers a few weeks ago. Many churches here do not rely on the United States churches for their support. Most Honduran evangelical churches are completely self-supported. In the past our church has relied almost exclusively on money from the United States. Here in Siguatepepque and in some other towns we are trying to develop the idea of the branches becoming financially independent.
There is an attitude among most countries towards the U.S. "She is an unending money supply." The government of the United States has loaned or given money to many nations. She has not used wisdom to see that the usage of the money and payments were carried through. As a result, we have financed projects that could damage our own country and the national debt increases.
This same attitude of "gimme-gimme" is deeply rooted in many of our foreign churches. Just as the government has not been wise, neither has the church. We have developed "rice Christians". Those in the mission field must be careful when asked for money. There are many who allow their feelings of pity to guide them rather than the wisdom of the Lord. At times our own culture interferes with our decision- making. Most of the people here think that Americans are very gullible.
We have seen many problems arise in the church because of money. We have witnessed the destruction of ministers and members due to greed. Many times it began by U.S. brethren who wanted to help out by giving money, but did not use wisdom nor heed the counsel of those in the mission field.
If money is to be given to the church in foreign lands, we can designate where those funds will go, but we will never really know how that money is used unless we have someone that is absolutely trustworthy living in that area. There is a need for more people to be willing to live in foreign lands. In Latin America truthfulness and honesty are not usually very highly regarded. You say what you need to say in order to get what you want.
We must stop having a paid ministry in the foreign churches! This causes innumerable problems. We have had a number of ministers in other churches become “interested” in the gospel because our national ministers were getting paid more than they were. It is also very difficult at times to know what some of the ministers really believe because many times they will say what they think you want to hear or even more commonly just won’t tell you what they believe because they do not want to imperil their paycheck. Some Americans have said that it is necessary to pay the ministers here because there is no other way that their families could survive if the head of the household is active in missionary work. This is false! The Lord has promised to provide for His people. We must realize that He is the One who provides everything that we need, even the air that we breathe. How much easier it is for Him to provide what we need to live on if we would just trust Him and teach our people to go to Him and to trust Him for everything. We must follow the pattern which is given in Mosiah 9:59. We do not want anyone to misunderstand what we believe. If a minister is out in the mission field it is not only permitted, but commanded that the church support his family while he is in the field, but when he returns home he is to work with his own hands for his family’s support.
We also could avoid many of these monetary problems if we would just follow the commandment of the Lord to go without purse or scrip. When people see us without money or baggage while we are on mission trips, they begin to realize that we are not all rich Americans. This would help out immensely when there are monetary needs in the churches. The members instead of looking to the US for monetary help, begin to look for ways to earn money themselves and they have to go to the Lord seeking His help to get the needed money.
We do not want people to think that we do not appreciate their support of the church here in Honduras. We do! We do not feel that it is right for the church here to be dependent upon the U.S. church though. The United States church and the Honduran church should be in an equal relationship, not a mother-daughter relationship.
May the Lord bless our brothers in all lands and may he give us wisdom as we try to serve. There are those here that have truly had a changed heart for Jesus Christ and are good workers for the Lord.
A new independent missionary here in Siguatepeque heard that a missionary family (us) lived in the mountains near Siguatepeque. He walked out here to visit us, but neither Chuck nor myself were at home. He visited with Connie (Chuck's mom) and the children a little and then promised to come back the next day. He came back and Chuck was able to share the gospel with him and the people who came with him. One of the young ladies when Chuck told them about the Book of Mormon was pretty cold, but after he asked her to read in Mosiah 1:100-102, 108 and 116 about Jesus Christ, she began to read more of it on her own.
Two days later, the missionary returned with two requests. The first one was that he would like a Book of Mormon and some suggestions as to where to begin reading it. Chuck suggested that he read 1 Nephi and then begin reading the N.T. part in 3 Nephi. The second request was for 300Lempiras (20 dollars), so that he could replace his reading glasses which he had lost. This has caused us to wonder if he possibly has ulterior motives. Chuck did loan him the money and he said that he would pay us back within 5 days. Please pray for us that we will have wisdom and discernment as we share Jesus Christ and His gospel with the people of the covenant.
As for our family, we are still working on the house. There is painting and cabinetry to be done. The three bedrooms do not have flooring put in yet. It may not sound like much, but we have to move furnishings from room to room as we work and the conveniences that you have in the States do not exist here. Carpentry takes three times as long to do since you do everything from scratch. You begin with a rough piece of wood cut right from a tree.
Regina keeps herself busy with school, home, and church. It is a blessing to have Connie here with us. She is a great help and the children enjoy her very much. On Sundays Regina assists with the children's Sunday school class at 9:30, then moves on to present an activity in the youth class at 10:15. Chuck drives the bus route to take people home, then the family goes home to eat lunch. At 3:00pm Elizabeth and Regina teach a Sunday school class to children in our village. Supper is given, then we are off again to church. Sundays are filled with activities, but we enjoy them. It is an exciting day for us.
A testimony from Elizabeth Sperry:
We live in the country and do not have trash service, so we have to burn trash once a week. One day I went with my Dad and Grandma to burn the trash. My Dad had put some trash from his workshop in there and told us to move away from the fire because there was something that might explode. All three of us backed off a long way and "Boom" out came a fire like a blow torch. I felt something on my hand and tried to flick it off. I began to scream. The explosion had blown out a small piece of plastic that shot at my hand like a bullet. My Dad and Grandma came running to help. We put water on my hand and prayed. My Dad had to dig out the piece of plastic that burned into my skin. After we prayed I felt better and fell asleep. I am grateful to the Lord that I did not get seriously hurt. You know what? There is hardly even a scar on my hand.
Newsletter- September 2001
In a small village high in the mountains of Honduras Central America a man drives slowly over rough almost non-existant roads to his place of birth, San Nicolas, Intibuca, Honduras. He has made this three-hour trip many times for over 3 years in order to share the gospel with his family. His hopes are sure, but it has been a slow process. He has not wanted to push. He wants to be sure that they truly believe the gospel.
The road has now been repaired. It now takes only 1 1/2 hours to travel to San Nicolas (a total of 17 miles). Our congregation of Siguatepeque is invited to a baptism. We leave in our little yellow bus. Now in the month of August 2001; twenty-two people, brothers, sisters, nephews, and cousins are entering the waters of baptism. The man is Socorro Vasquez. He, Chuck Sperry, and Gerardo Tinoco were privileged to assist these people with the ordinance of baptism.
There is singing, prayer, and even tears. A woman covers her face as she enters the water because of her fear of water, but her desire to be baptized is greater than her fear. While Chuck is baptizing the first man, he has a slight problem. The bottom of the baptismal site is very slick and when he starts to immerse him, he suddenly finds out that the man is also scared of the water. The man is too scared to let his head go under the water and so instead of getting baptized bumps into Chuck and knocks him off the ledge into a deep hole! Chuck has to swim out of the hole and do the baptism again. After Chuck talks with the man and explains that everything will be OK, he redoes the baptism. Again the man resists letting his head go under the water so Chuck pushes him under the water and then lifts him out of the water. Afterwards, he, Socorro, Gerardo and Chuck have a good laugh about it. After the baptisms in the river, we pile into the bus. There are fourty-four people in that 18 passenger bus. Socorro has twenty in the bed of his Toyota truck. That does not include the 8 people in the cab. We hug and say goodbye after taking them back to the village.
Our congregation here in Siguatepeque is now looking forward to a trip to Santa Cruz. This was the home of Chico Alberto Hernandez. He is the minister that was killed last year in a car accident. A church is being built there. A friend of Chico’s is building the church very inexpensively. The building should be finished by the end of September. We here in Siguatepeque will be participating in the dedication service at the beginning of October. Please pray for the harvest that will take place in Santa Cruz.
As you can tell by the previous events, the bus that was donated has opened up many avenues of ministry for our congregation. Having a congregation in a “large” city with people who have no transportation decreases their attendance. Now with the bus we are able to pick up members for church. Tonight we will be attending a prayer service in the home of a member. All will be picked up by the bus so that everyone will be able to attend.
The bus ministry also provides opportunity to invite non-members. Please remember the pre-baptismal class that Chuck gives every Tuesday night. There are now eight attending the class. Chuck has also begun a Scripture study for unchurched people that work in downtown Siguatepeque.
We have a money-making project each month in order to pay for the expenses of the bus. These projects have been very good for our congregation. We have fun working together and we set short-term goals for church trips and activities that are helping us grow.
GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
The Lord has shown our family His power and love many times. In the month of April one Saturday morning as I, Regina was hanging out laundry to dry; I heard a crackling sound coming from the woods behind our house. I turned to see a forest fire on the mountain next to us.
Knowing the direction that the wind blows, I knew that the fire would be close to our house in a few hours. I thought of many things. Should I move the truck close to the house? Should we close up the house and leave for town? What was the best thing to do? Chuck was not at home. My best option was to pray and seek the Lord. I gathered the children together and we had prayer. Seeing the fire a few of the children began to cry. We sang “God will take care of you” and had another prayer asking the Lord to send us his peace.
Because of the recent construction of the house, there was a lot of rocks and earth all around the house. I figured the fire could not touch it, but was concerned about the smoke. I walked to the property line and leaned over the barbed-wire fence. Looking at the fire I prayed “Lord, in Jesus’ name send this fire away from this property. Change the direction of the wind Lord. I praise you for what you have done and what you will do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
I walked back to the house. Before I went in the door I noticed that the wind had changed its direction. I looked up to the sky and smiled, went in the house and closed the door. Now with confidence I told the children that everthing was OK. A few hours later I went out to bring in the laundry. I praise the Lord for His goodness.
We would ask for you to continue remembering our family and the work here in Honduras. We pray for all of God’s people everywhere that they will be blessed and that each of us will share the Good News with others.
God’s richest blessings,
Chuck and Regina Sperry and Family
Newsletter- December 2001
Hello, Once again we are a bit late getting the newsletter to you. We found time to do it the last week of December. We trust that you had a blessed holiday. As the New Year is here our prayer is that we will step out in faith with the assurance that the Lord is going before us preparing the way to share His Word with others. Let us be confident as we step out into the future with Him.
For the month of November and December we were busy putting in sidewalks around the house. Chuck put in a clay stove in the living room so we could keep warm. Although Honduras has a tropical climate, it gets cool during the winter months when you are up in the mountains.
During the last year our family has become more involved in the community. Because of the terrible problem which Honduras has with corruption, the national government has started a new program where the people in each city, neighborhood, and village elect a comptroller to make sure that funds and materials for projects (i.e.- electricity, water systems, telephone systems, roads, parks, etc.) aren't embezzled or used for personal projects. Chuck was elected to this office for our barrio. As a result of his responsibility, he has been extensively involved in our community's electrical and water projects and has initiated a telephone project. About two weeks ago when he went to Tegucigalpa to help pick up materials for the electrical project, he along with the president of the community found out that about 5 kilometers of our high tension cable had disappeared from the warehouse in Tegucigalpa. When he began investigating as to what had happened to the cable, he found out from the engineer in charge of the warehouse that one of his bosses in San Pedro had signed the withdrawal order in order to use the cable in "special projects". Chuck then talked with the engineer in charge of all electrification projects in the central area of Honduras. He told Chuck that not only had our cable disappeared, but also over 300 kilometers (175 miles) of cable had disappeared which has a wholesale value of 9,842,520 Lempiras (656,168 dollars). He told Chuck that he wanted the Comptroller General of Honduras to investigate the disappearance of the cable since one of the engineers that signed the withdrawal order is his boss! Needless to say, we have been praying that the perpetrators will be caught and that the lost cable will be found or replaced. Chuck has talked with governmental auditors, the Auditor General, electrical company internal auditors, the Comptroller General and has spent a couple of hundred Lempiras in phone calls trying to find out what happened. He is supposed to call Tegucigalpa today and find out what the government auditors have been able to accomplish.
Regina has been teaching in a local Christian school for the past year. She and Chuck will be helping this school improve their English courses. Beginning next year (2002), Chuck will be teaching there half-days so that she can stay home with the kids. The other half of the day, Chuck will be doing missionary work and working with the people in the community.
We would ask for your prayers for the 3 study classes that Chuck has been giving. Pray for the fifteen people who have been attending these classes. Pray that they will continue to show interest and be consistent in their walk with the Lord.
Last Sunday, we had an excellent baptismal service at Sta. Cruz de Yojoa. We had 16 baptisms. There were 3 baptized from las Conchas, 10 from Sta. Cruz, and 3 from Mogote. Socorro Vasquez, Gerardo Tinoco, Fito Castellanos, Chuck and a newly ordained priest Noel Enamorado were the ministers involved in the baptisms. Chico Alberto's 3 daughters were baptized in this service also. The entire congregation of Siguatepeque went in the church bus which was donated by a brother and a sister in the States. It has sure been a blessing. The bus is rated for 19 passengers, but we used it to transport over 30 people from here and las Conchas to the baptisms. We just drove very slowly around the mountain curves! This bus has been an excellent tool. It is just the right size for down here if you load it a bit more than you do in the States.
The church building in Las Conchas is not quite finished yet. We hope it will be completed sometime in January. Our next newsletter should have more information about this building project.
In the last few months of 2001 there have been about 40 baptisms. We would ask that you pray for these new members. Pray that they will grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for the "old" members also! Pray that they will be renewed in Jesus Christ and dedicate themselves to understanding and doing His Word.
Thanks again to all of you for your help for the past year. We pray that the Lord will bless each of you.
Chuck , Regina, and family
P.S.- The Sperry family has plans to drive back to Missouri for a visit in April and May of 2002. We ask that you would pray for them as they prepare to return.