The second day in Honduras, we began our mission with a place in the city called Ministeria de Vida. Vida is a rehabilitation center for men. Most of the guys there are at the end of their line: extreme addiction, no friends or family, no food or money. Their vice had taken everything from them. As we approached the locked gate made of aluminum siding, we stepped into a compound. In the center was the house in which they all bunked. The upper floor had bars for walls, each covered with a blanket for some semblance of privacy. To the left, a workshop for carpentry in which they painstakingly make acoustic guitars, ukuleles, and furniture by hand. To the right, an outdoor gym in which dumbbells were made of cement-filled coffee cans. Behind that was the pavilion in which would all meet together moments later. These details are important to illustrate the severity of the problems these men face. This was not a place filled with pillows, fluorescent lights, and therapists.
The time had come for everyone to meet, and they began by singing praise songs and praying. Within minutes, a man had stepped forward to the invisible altar and collapsed. No one paused. Voices continued and eyes remained focused. The man began violently weeping on hands and knees, holding his head as low as his body could get it. He was sweating and crying so deeply that by the end of the song, he literally lay in a puddle, and the pastor took him away to care for him.
I had witnessed a man’s fragile will, fall off of the pedestal and break into a thousand pieces. It was beautiful. Our instincts as people and Americans are to help others in distress. At some point in our life, we will wander off the trail and into the darkness further than we have ever gone. It is at that moment that we cannot be helped by someone else. Our only hope is that God reaches in and guides us back.
Many times, that guidance requires full dependence, and God can only extract that dependence by letting us fall apart within. When this man fell apart, he did so before God. His breaking was the opportunity for God to rescue him, not me, or someone else. That’s why it was beautiful.
As is often the case, God reveals the true nature of my surroundings with humility. It was clear then that despite having come to visit, I was already checked in as a person in need of rehabilitation. This would be a valuable reminder to speak to them as such, and not as some American boy who has everything together. And so I did not tell and lecture, but I pleaded and begged with them to follow Jesus.
As we drove away in the truck, and they locked the gate behind us, we watched as scores of people ran to a small opening in a wall only 1 block from the gates of Vida. They reached up with money, and a hand from the hole fed them with small bags of drugs. The road led straight in to the gates of Vida, and only steps away was darkness, waiting with an open hand.