The Seeds Have Been Planted and Fruit is Coming Forth

by: Jerry Eickhoff

I hear a lot about fruit around my house. “Don’t eat the chips, eat an apple! Maybe then you could see your feet,” or something subtle to that effect. God spoke to us about His expectations and our role in the growth process using fruit as a metaphor. He still speaks to us today in the same way, and we see it evident in our work in Central America.

It’s been a busy summer so far for the HOI staff, missionary teams, and the people we serve in Central America! 35 groups, with a total of 605 team members, have already traveled to our three locations across Honduras and Nicaragua, and we have almost 700 more scheduled to travel with us later this year. These are an amazing number of volunteers for whom we are so grateful, and a reminder of the importance that thousands of people place on our work in Central America and also the responsibility we have in coordinating and supporting teams.

Haddock Baptist mission team member with new Honduran friends

Mission team member from Haddock Baptist poses for a picture with her new Honduran friends.

We are continuously evaluating the impact that our ministry has on all of the people we serve, both Central and North American, as well as our staff. Usually these discussions quickly turn to data points and statistics, much like those in the opening paragraph: what percentage of the population saw a reduction in disease; how many new businesses did we help start to help lift people out of poverty; and what number of children have we been able to sponsor to receive a life-changing education? All of these metrics are important to our overall “success” as an organization and in our mission to help create measurable quality of life improvement for the regions we serve. However, we’re reminded daily that our primary motivation for heading to Central America over 25 years ago is grounded in the commandment to “go”, serve the world and to share the good news of Jesus Christ. This yields the reward that will have true lasting impact on us all – an impact that lasts forever.

The spiritual dimension of who we are and how we serve is really at the core of our long term “success”.  It’s becoming more and more evident in everything we do. We’ve written about our seminary and the over 150 pastors we’ve trained, and also about how Young Life is now taking firm hold in the Valley with 19 of our  local youth recently accepting Christ at the YL camp. These developments will have profound effects on the population for the rest of their lives, and as the truth of the Gospel accelerates and spreads, the country and its people will be transformed.

Graduating Seminary Class

Ranch pastor, Wilmer Padilla, and graduating seminary class.

In addition to the excitement surrounding our seminary and Young Life’s success, we are also seeing tremendous spiritual impact and connection with the work and ministry of “presence” of our partner teams. A few years ago we began targeted in-home visits with residents of the villages where we work, and the impact on all involved has been profound. We all have experienced how important it is to know someone is praying for you in a time of need. God gives us this opportunity to pray, love and show concern without providing anything material – just love, prayer, and attention.

Through the tears we remember that there is also hope and joy.  Joy in knowing the One who cares for us all equally, the One who has told us to put aside our fears, the One who reminds us to not be anxious in our troubles, is there.  As we’re instructed in Isaiah 41:10:

  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 We’ve heard dozens of stories from team members who come away from these visitations in what was anticipated to be an “uncomfortable” experience that turned out to be soul-centering encounters with Christ.

North American team praying in Honduras

North American mission team praying for a young boy in San Lorenzo, Honduras

After all these years of toiling in the fields of Central America, it is so rewarding to know and experience the coming forth of fruits sown in the original call that we received those many years ago. We’re blessed that God has allowed us to see the fruits of His ministry, while we labor to stay focused on Him. We are to plant the seeds and water the plants. He will bring forth the fruit, as we’re reminded in Corinthians 3:6-9:

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Thank you all for saying “yes” to this call by being and important part of our ministry through your active participation with HOI, supporting us with your traveling to our overseas locations, generous financial gifts, and undergirding us with your prayers.

Thank you and may God bless you,

Jerry Headshot