Torch Mission teams have been going to Honduras for nearly 20 years. In some ways that sounds like a long time, but in some ways it doesn’t. No matter how you look at it, a LOT of people have gone to Honduras through Torch Missions. I have no idea how many, but I can safely say thousands have gone. THOUSANDS. And the number of people we have come in contact with and ministered to during this time? HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. When you take a moment to think about it, that is a lot of people, isn’t it? And how many people have been affected and changed because of these short term mission trips? Who really knows? (almost sounds like a Master Card commercial, doesn’t it?)
There are so many stories I could share. There are married couples that met their special someone on a Torch trip (even though we strongly encourage people not to hook up during trips!). There are people in full time ministry because of a mission trip to Honduras with Torch Missions. There are so many that literally plan their vacations from work around their yearly trip to Honduras. There are full time missionaries because of the time that was spent during short term mission work in Honduras. Many have changed their college majors because of Torch Missions. And there are those who have set their course to live and work in Honduras, both now, and in the future.
I would like to talk about three very special people that have done just that. They have decided to move to Honduras to work full time in the place they have grown to love over the years. For many of us, they are doing what we dream of doing. Packing up our stuff and moving to Tegucigalpa. To live, to work, to minister. These three have taken their dreams and have made it a reality. They have taken that step that most of us can’t, or won’t, do. They are modern day Abraham’s, stepping out on faith to go where they have been called. And what a calling!
I have known Jennifer Arnold for a long time. She was a student of mine when I was teaching at Ezell-Harding Christian School, in Nashville, Tennessee. She sang in the chorus I directed, she played on the softball team I helped coach. She attended the Rural Hill Church of Christ, which teamed up with my group from Wingate, on all kinds of activities and trips. Including Honduras. And it didn’t take much to talk Jen into going to Honduras! She was eager to serve the Lord and her heart was always in the right place. And she began her journey in high school. Every year since high school, and college, she went to Honduras with Torch Missions. She took on more and more work with the teams while finishing up here college softball career and college work. She became a vital member of the leadership team, specializing on the communications for the teams back to the states. She earned her master’s degree and got a good job teaching in the metro system in Nashville. And she saved her money. And then she took the step, or should I say, the leap. She decided this year to move to Honduras and to work at Los Pinares, a Christian school in Tegucigalpa. She will be the school librarian (she actually has a degree for this and she LIKES it!). She leaves a good paying job, a great church, and a wonderful family behind. To do what she loves doing.
I have known Katie Wells for a few years now. What an awesome young lady! To use the term “buff truck” around her is almost an insult. She will work most anyone under the table, men included. She is a servant in the truest definition of the word. From construction to visitation, Katie puts her heart and soul into her work in Honduras. Katie talked her Mom into going to Honduras last year. This year she talked her Dad into going. It was a real family affair. Her love for mission work is evident from the moment you meet her.
Katie graduated from Abilene Christian University with a degree in education. She has spent the past couple of years living in Washington state teaching and coaching (she is quite the athlete). This summer, while in Honduras, she heard about a job opening at Los Pinares Christian School. They needed a physical education teacher who would be willing to coach. Katie saw this as a calling and applied, literally within a couple of weeks of school starting. The job was offered and Katie spent little time considering it. She accepted the offer and packed up her stuff and headed off to Tegucigalpa, to live in the place she has fallen in love with since here mission trip experiences.
I have known Jennifer Wright for several years. I met her in Nashville while she was attending Lipscomb University. She lived in the dorm that my wife supervised, and Jen spent a lot of time in Margaret’s office (no, not that way, because she wanted too!). She attended church with us at Wingate and heard story after story, detail by detail, about the trips to Honduras. She listened and thought, then thought and listened some more. Now, Jen wasn’t the easiest person to convince to go to Honduras. She said no time after time. She finally made the plunge a year ago and went on her first ever Torch trip for 24 days. And it changed her life. Now, Jen, she has a degree in education, too. She has been teaching for the past couple of years up in Ohio, where she is from. As a teacher she has summers off, and she was able to go last year on her first trip. This year she led a team of 34 during spring break from her home congregation in Ohio. Then she came again for this summer’s trip with my group and stayed on with Marc Tindall’s group for 2 more weeks. To say she loves Honduras is an understatement.
With her heart completely broken, she began to search out what God wanted her to do with her life. She listened for the call. And she heard it, loud and clear. In October she will also be moving to Honduras. She will be working to help start and run an orphanage that will be built on the property in Santa Ana. She is packing up her stuff and heading off to the place that she loves. Doing what she loves doing. Working in the kingdom.
What amazing stories. Three young ladies, all from different backgrounds. All from different places, both in life and in location. Yet they all have things in common. A love for God. A love for kingdom work. A love for Honduras. A love for Torch Missions. And it is the things they have in common that has brought them together this year. To go, preach the gospel, to every creature. To step out of the boat, to fix their eyes on Jesus, and to make a difference.
When we take people on trips to Honduras through Torch Missions, we tell them that their lives will never be the same again. We tell them that they will never look at things the same way. We teach them how to do mission work, how to love the lost. And when they hear the call, when they go to do the work, we shouldn’t be surprised. We shouldn’t be surprised at all. After all, they are learning to do what Jesus has asked us all to do. We should be proud. We should be supportive. We should be with them every step of the way. And we are very proud of Jennifer, Katie, and Jen, for their decision to move to Honduras. We pray that you will be safe, that you will be healthy (don’t drink the water!!!). And we pray that your ministry will be a true reflection of Jesus and His glory while you are there. Best of luck, hold down the fort until we get there this summer!
PS: Why not keep in touch with them? They would love to hear some encouraging words from you! You cam e-mail them at the following addresses:
Jennifer Arnold: email@example.com
Katie Wells: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Wright: jenw22@yahoo,com For those who might be interested, Jen is in the process of trying to raise additional funds for the orphanage project at Santa Ana. If you can help, please let her know! It is going to be a tremendous ministry and will reach out to many in Santa Ana both now and for years to come!