La Esperanza, Honduras
From the book by Curt Iles, The Old House copyright 2002
I stood in muddy water in the middle of what was now a raging stream. Only an hour ago this spot was the middle of a dirt road on the side of a hill in northwestern Honduras. We’d arrived here at the home of a family to set up our video equipment and screen to show The Jesus Film.
Upon arrival a few hours before dark our team was met by a group of smiling dark Honduran children. Setting up our screen and tarps, we kept an eye on the sky above the surrounding mountains. It was May and that meant the beginning of the rainy season in Central America.
Tonight’s language, of course, Spanish. Randy Pierce sets up the large screen and adjusts the video projector, DVD player, and generator.
As dusk approaches, a small crowd of forty or so has gathered. Most perch on benches in the roadway or sit with us along the ditch bank. Off in the surrounding darkness I can make out the forms of people, mostly men, who will not come closer, but sit at a distance under the trees.
As the film begins, every eye is on the screen. We are miles from any electricity and I wonder if any of these folks have ever seen a movie. The quietly humming generator runs the DVD player as the light of the movie reflects off the rapt faces of the Hondurans.
The movie continues. Just about the time that Jesus stills the storm on the Sea of Galilee, the first raindrops fall. Then a clap of thunder introduces the real rain and the bottom drops out. Everyone runs for cover under the two tarps. Within minutes the road is running inches deep in water. The wind blows rain in on the huddled women, boys, and children.
Finally, after about twenty minutes of raining hard, it slackens. By now Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. It’s still raining hard but not nearly as hard as it was earlier. I slip to a drier area under the tarp and sit on a log.
On my left side I feel the warmth of another human body. A Honduran woman is sitting beside me. It’s very dark but I can make out her smile and tell her hello, as I return my attention to the film. On the crowded log we are tightly packed and I feel the woman’s body against my shoulder. From her side smacking sounds distract me, and with my eyes now adjusted to the darkness, I see that this Honduran mother is nursing her infant child, oblivious to this embarrassed Yankee seated next to her. My only thought is, “I’m sure a long way from home here!”
Finally, through an hour of steady rain, the film ends. The Jesus Film features a wonderful invitation at the end giving each viewer the opportunity to invite Jesus into their life. Alexis stands in the rain and issues a call for all who’ve made this decision to come forward. From back in the crowd a young boy steps forward. Soon there is a small group of teenage boys who came forward one by one, standing in the pouring rain.
As long as I live I will have the picture in my mind of these seven boys gathered around Alexis as he prays with them. They had made a decision to come to Jesus and were going to do whatever it took to receive him, regardless of the rain or what anyone else thought.
Then I recalled the story of the four men in the second chapter of Mark’s gospel who brought their lame friend to see Jesus. Finding Jesus in a crowded room teaching, they went to the roof and after cutting a hole, lowered their friend to the wonderful Savior. They had a “whatever it takes” attitude to bring their friend to Jesus. Isn’t that exactly what we should have concerning the Savior? There is no distance too great, no weather too bad, no obstacle too large, and no wall too high. Whatever it takes, we need to bring others to Jesus.
This night reminds me of how we in America really don’t know what commitment and sacrifice are about. Here are people who’ve walked miles to see this film. Some of them are willing to stand in the pouring rain to show their desire to follow the amazing Son of God, Jesus. After the film, many will make long walks in the dark and up slippery muddy mountain paths as they trudge homeward. It humbles me as to how I take so many things for granted and often do not really show gratitude for my blessings.