Spiritual Lessons I Learned in Honduras

Loving the Body

I just spent a week at “House of Hope” in Puerto Lempira, Honduras. House of Hope (Casa Esperanza) is a clinic/school/orphanage that meets the needs of the children of the Mosquito Coast of eastern Honduras. It is sponsored by a ministry called Send Hope. Send Hope was founded about 20 years ago by Dr. Tom Brian, a dentist in Allen, Texas. He started out fixing teeth, and gradually the ministry has expanded to include a school, a milk program for malnourished children, and an orphanage for disabled children. I went to Honduras with Dr. Tom, Laurie Hosack, a registered nurse from First United Methodist Church of Allen, and my 22-year-old son Matt McKenzie. We spent the week painting children’s rooms, playing with them and holding them.

It was hot. It was sometimes buggy. We Texas folks who are used to living in our air-conditioned ice box houses and offices had to sweat and sweat some more. We ate beans and rice and plantains. The electricity went out several times, always at night. To people used to a level of comfort and convenience, values around which life in suburban North Dallas is built, the week involved a level of physical discomfort. I worked hard not to get fried by the sun or bitten by mosquitoes. I was glad for the Spanish I had learned and determined to know more by the time I returned.

I spent a lot of time holding young children that week. That’s one of the most important roles of volunteers who go to the House of Hope. As I sat in the heat holding one, then two, sometimes three young children at one time, I couldn’t help but think of Paul’s beautiful image for the Church as the Body of Christ. For one thing, La Mosquitia is cut off from the rest of Honduras, with no roads and few natural resources. The rest of the country seems to say to it: you are a part of the body we don’t really need. For another thing, I was aware of a level of discomfort in my own physical being and of the level of the need for affection of the children clambering onto my lap. I felt love for these children and felt surrounded by their need for love.

Says Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
He continues, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”(1 Cor 12:27)

What made Paul think of this body metaphor for the divided church at Corinth?
Paul had a splinter or a thorn in his flesh, a persistent affliction that had not let up for 14 years. He doesn’t specify what it is when he talks about it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Scholars have varied theories: migraines, a struggle with depression, pain caused to him by his opponents’ criticism, or a persistent weakness of his eyesight (See Galatians 4:12-15). Whatever the thorn was, maybe he woke up one morning and it hurt worse than usual. And maybe on top of that, his eyes were bleary and his joints ached. And he said to himself, “When one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. “ “Why don’t the Corinthians feel that?” Paul must have asked himself. “They’re a body!”
What made Paul think of this body metaphor for the divided church at Corinth? Maybe later that day he decided to escape the heat and crowds of Corinth and went and sat by the pool at the shrine to Asklepios. Asklepios was the god of healing and there was a shrine in his honor in Corinth. If you had an infirmity, you presented him with an offering of honey cakes, and then slept overnight in the shrine. The god would appear to you in a dream and heal the affected body part. Then you would have a terra cotta model of it made and place it on display at the shrine next to the bathing pool. (Williams, 89)
Maybe, as he sat by the pool at Asklepios’ shrine, Paul contemplated the body parts on the wall, replicas of all kinds of body parts supposedly healed by the god: heads, hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, and ears as well as other body parts not normally displayed this openly. And maybe he thought, “What life do any of the members have unless they are joined together in a living body? Why doesn’t the Corinthian Church get that? They’re isolating themselves from one another, which will surely lead to spiritual death.”

Whatever made Paul think of it, the body is the perfect metaphor for baptismal unity! It’s perfect because in the body no member can say it is more important than any other. We are all imperfect members, but we all belong to Christ.
And we are all in the process of becoming more like Christ as we go out into the world in his name. “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18; 15:1,2) Becoming more like Christ (being saved) is a process in which we gradually come to feel the sufferings and joys of others as keenly as we do our own. As Paul says, “When one member suffers all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Cor 12:26) The restoration of health to one part of the body is felt throughout the body.

As I sat with children in my lap, melded together by our sweat, I remembered that we are all being held by God. I remembered that, when God’s Son came to earth, one of his favorite things to do was embrace the children who came to him for a blessing. I pray for the work of Dr. Tom Brian and Send Hope at Casa Esperanza in Puerto Lempira, Honduras. I give thanks for the ways it ministers to children’s bodies, minds and spirits. Having the privilege of holding, comforting and playing with the children there reminded me that, as Paul knew long ago, “We are the Body of Christ and individually members of it.”

Alyce McKenzie is a Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology and blogs at her Patheos Expert Site.

Works Cited:

David J. Williams, Paul’s Metaphors: Their Context and Character (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999). Anthony C. Thistleton, 1 Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006).

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

9,139 responses to “Spiritual Lessons I Learned in Honduras”

  1. An fascinating discussion is worth a comment. I think that you should write extra on this topic, it might not be a taboo topic but generally people are not sufficient to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  2. Hello there! I realize this is kinda off subject but I was asking yourself if you ever knew where I could possibly locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m utilizing exactly the exact same weblog platform as yours and I’m acquiring issues uncovering a single? Thanks lots!

  3. When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any approach you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

  4. I’m experiencing a problem with your rss feed . Don’t know why I am not able to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thanks

  5. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent article. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

  6. Awseome article, I am a big believer in writing comments on weblogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!

  7. I have to make capabilities concerning thanking someone over the technician tactics I a lot were pleased with trying out your webblog. We’re ready for the suitable graduation together with had been or perhaps survey or the foot work could not occur top notch while not coming back to your website. House are actually of one’s assist other individuals, I am glad to support you as to what Ive gleaned from this level.

  8. Howdy are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  9. Thanks for spending the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If doable, as you turn out to be an expert, would you mind updating your weblog with more details?

  10. After examining a couple of of the weblog posts in your web site now, and I really like your manner of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site list and shall be checking back soon. Pls take a look at my site as effectively and let me know what you think.

  11. Hey this is a wonderful write-up. I’m going to email this to my pals. I stumbled on this while exploring on google I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing.

  12. Congratulations on having one of the most sophisticated blogs Ive come across in some time! Its just incredible how much you can take away from something simply because of how visually beautiful it is. Youve put together a great blog space –great graphics, videos, layout. This is definitely a must-see blog!

  13. Hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educated and entertaining, and let me tell you, you might have hit the nail on the head. Your thought is excellent; the issue is something that not sufficient people are talking intelligently about. I’m very joyful that I stumbled across this in my search for info regarding this.

  14. Needed to draft you this little bit of word to thank you so much the moment again for your personal magnificent methods you’ve shown here. This has been wonderfully generous with people like you to supply freely what a number of us might have advertised for an electronic book to earn some profit on their own, chiefly considering that you could possibly have tried it in the event you desired. The inspiring ideas additionally worked to become fantastic way to recognize that other people have similar zeal similar to my very own to realize great deal more when considering this matter. I know there are some more enjoyable situations ahead for those who read carefully your blog.

  15. My wife and i got quite delighted Peter could conclude his reports with the ideas he made through your web site. It’s not at all simplistic to simply happen to be giving away information and facts which usually people could have been making money from. And we all fully grasp we’ve got the website owner to appreciate because of that. The type of illustrations you’ve made, the straightforward blog menu, the friendships you make it possible to promote – it’s mostly overwhelming, and it is facilitating our son and us know that the subject matter is pleasurable, and that is seriously essential. Thank you for all!

  16. After I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any manner you’ll be able to take away me from that service? Thanks!

  17. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really recognise what you are speaking about! Bookmarked. Please also consult with my site =). We will have a link trade arrangement between us!

  18. Thanks for your posting. Another thing is that just being a photographer will involve not only difficulties in taking award-winning photographs but hardships in getting the best video camera suited to your requirements and most especially problems in maintaining the grade of your camera. That is very genuine and apparent for those photography fans that are straight into capturing the particular nature’s engaging scenes — the mountains, the forests, the actual wild or perhaps the seas. Going to these amazing places certainly requires a camera that can live up to the wild’s tough natural environment.

  19. Admiring the persistence you put into your blog and in depth information you provide. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material. Wonderful read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  20. Helpful info discussed I am really pleased to read this particular post..many thanks with regard to providing all of us nice information.Great walk-through. I truly appreciate this article.

  21. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

  22. I do believe all the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They are very convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very quick for beginners. Could you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  23. My spouse and i ended up being now contented when Raymond managed to finish off his web research through the entire precious recommendations he grabbed in your web pages. It is now and again perplexing just to find yourself making a gift of key points that many others could have been making money from. And we remember we have the website owner to thank for that. Those illustrations you have made, the easy site menu, the relationships you can help to promote – it’s many astounding, and it is leading our son and our family do think that situation is thrilling, and that’s rather essential. Thank you for all!

  24. Someone necessarily lend a hand to make severely posts I’d state. That is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I amazed with the research you made to make this particular submit incredible. Great process!

  25. I wish to express appreciation to you just for bailing me out of this type of situation. After looking throughout the the net and getting ideas that were not powerful, I was thinking my entire life was done. Existing without the answers to the issues you have sorted out all through your site is a critical case, as well as the ones which might have adversely damaged my career if I had not come across your web site. Your main natural talent and kindness in playing with almost everything was precious. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a step like this. I can also at this point look forward to my future. Thank you very much for the professional and amazing guide. I won’t hesitate to endorse your web blog to anyone who would like guide on this topic.

  26. I am now not sure where you’re getting your info, however good topic. I must spend a while studying much more or working out more. Thanks for great information I used to be on the lookout for this info for my mission.

  27. I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.

  28. I wanted to check up and allow you to know how great I cherished discovering this blog today. I’d personally consider it a great honor to do things at my workplace and be able to make use of the tips discussed on your website and also engage in visitors’ responses like this. Should a position associated with guest author become available at your end, you should let me know.