Débora Ramirez remembers feeling shocked when the border agent told her that her team could not enter Honduras. Just thirty minutes earlier, the border was closed due to the elections taking place that day.
“Fifty pastors were there waiting for us,” says Deb. “Some of them had walked 2 or 3 hours for the training. We’d awoken at 3 am to get there on time. I really felt like God wanted us to go, and now he’d closed the door right in our faces!”
There was no negotiating, so Deb and fellow seeJesus trainers Pastor Ramiro (Rami) and his wife Shirley, Deb’s cousin Suly Escobar, and Pastor Nielsen drove back into El Salvador. They called a church in Ahuachapán, on the northern side of El Salvador, where they were scheduled to do a training the following day. The church invited them to come early, so the team traveled on, finally arriving at 8 pm. The pastor greeted them and immediately asked Rami, who’d driven all day, “Can you preach for us tonight?” Armed with a quick cup of coffee, Rami preached.
A pastor arrives on his mule
That night, several from the seeJesus team stayed up late talking with church members. As they learned more about the people and the church, the team sensed that it was a true refuge. Deb reflects, “The people were very poor and some had been quite broken by life, but the church was full of grace and kindness. For example, some of the women and I were lingering in the room where we slept, chatting and slow to get going, and they brought in coffee and bread that they’d made for us. It turns out that a neighbor across the street from the church had seen us arrive and donated the dishes overnight because she wanted the church to have nicer dishes to use in serving us! So we enjoyed a room service style breakfast in very humble circumstances.”
The team led a seminar for the church which, Deb reflects, was less like a training than a sweet time of seeing Jesus together. It wasn’t what the team had come for, but they sensed the Lord’s goodness in it. They returned to Guatemala late that day, disappointed not to have made it to Honduras, but full from the fellowship with the church in Ahuachapán.
It wasn’t what the team had come for, but they sensed the Lord’s goodness in it.
But the story wasn’t over – the church in Honduras still wanted the team to come, and the guests were willing to do the work of traveling again! So, two weeks later, Deb and her teammates found themselves at the border again. This time, the border guard greeted them with the admonition, “Don’t ever come at this time of day, and do not expect to be served during my lunch break.” Calm and cool, pastor Nielson responded with the humility of Jesus, “Yes, okay,” and appeased a tense situation. They were soon admitted into the country. When they arrived at the host church in Yamaranguila that evening, the team was again greeted with first class hospitality in humble circumstances. The pastor and his wife slept outside so Rami and Shirley could sleep in their room, and Deb and her cousin slept in a Sunday School room.
“People started to arrive very early the next morning while we were still eating our breakfast,” Deb says. “One woman came with her two-month old twins! All sixty attendees were involved in ministry somehow – from young people involved in leading in dance to older pastors.”
In training events like this one with participants from a wide variety of educational levels, Deb reflects, “We always take our time going through the story. The Word is alive! Even if they don’t remember anything of The Person of Jesus study material, if they only remember the story, it will bear fruit.”
After reading through the story four times, with a different emphasis each time, the group acted it out. “We’ve done this story countless times,” Deb recalls, “and the dramatizations usually end with Jesus giving the son back to the mom. This time they followed the story through into the crowd bursting into praise. We had never had such a good dramatization of the story! They were praising the Lord right alongside the characters they were portraying.”
Plans are already underway for additional trainings with these Honduran leaders. Please pray for the Lord’s favor with all the logistics of travel and border crossings, and consider supporting Débora’s work. She is growing her support team.