BANNERTOWN — A group of young church-goers toted news of God’s love nearly 1,600 miles to Central America.
Bannertown Baptist Church Student Pastor Matt Bunker said he, six parent chaperones and 11 teenagers travelled to Honduras in June on a mission trip.
The trip was the sixth Bunker has taken, and he noted the annual mission trip is made possible through Deep Impact Student Missions, which is affiliated with N.C. Baptist Missions.
“The short story on this partnership is after Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras in 1998, N.C. Baptist Missions organized a missions partnership to help rebuild villages destroyed by the hurricane,” explained Bunker. “Churches were also rebuilt and missionaries from North Carolina have continued to support churches in impoverished villages in and around Tegucigalpa (Honduras) ever since.”
“Each year a student missions team from Deep Impact is assembled to continue to support these areas with free medical clinic ministry, children’s ministry and construction teams, providing for physical needs in sharing Christ’s love,” added Bunker.
The cost of the trip is about $1,600, according to Bunker. The church covers one-third of the costs. A third is covered by fund raising activities, and participants shoulder the final third of the costs. While in Honduras, the youngsters stay in bunkhouses at Camp Hotel, a missions camp.
On Sunday, after Bannertown Baptist broke ground on a new building, the group of youngsters assembled to share their thoughts about the experience.
The group was split into three missions upon its arrival in Tegucigalpa, according to the students. A few ended up in children’s ministry, while others worked as part of a construction ministry and a medical ministry.
“We talked to kids to help show them God’s love,” said Luke Welch, who spent his week with Honduran children.
Evan Dorsett, who worked alongside Luke in Villa Viejo, said he enjoyed the process of building relationships with the children and watching them grow spiritually throughout the course of the week.
Chris Cogdill brought a skill back from the Central American country. He spent his week laying bricks.
“I was sort of thrown into it,” said Chris, explaining that he had little to no building or construction experience.
Chris and Ian Heath constructed the walls of Fire of God Church in Tegucigalpa.
Alexis Puckett ended up helping to set up a make-shift medical clinic. She distributed medication.
Chrystal McHone, an adult chaperone for the trip, accompanied Alexis. McHone said her nursing education came in handy, as she was the only nurse at the clinic, which treated 453 people while the group was in Honduras. Some common ailments were high blood sugar and high blood pressure, but the most common problem — by far — was malnutrition.
McHone said she had the opportunity to help a lot of people while in Honduras, leaving her with an “amazing” feeling.
Bunker said every person comes home from the mission trip with a little different outlook on life.
“You can’t understand the poverty until you’ve experienced it,” said Bunker.
However, what surprised the youngsters was how a poor Honduran people thrive in the face of such economic conditions.
“I was amazed by how they make due with they have,” Luke noted.
Evan added, “They are still as happy as we are.”
In the face of such adversity, they are also as close to God as the members of the Bannertown group, said a number of the teens.
“I’d say the biggest impact I’ve seen in my students over the years is how overwhelming the poverty is in that country, but how spiritually rich the people are,” said Bunker. “In seemingly hopeless conditions in some cases, I’ve found the people of Honduras are so loving, grateful and generous.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.