I was recently asked why we have work among the Lenca of Honduras.
I wrote this originally in 2004 and revised it again in 2011, so this is the 2014 revision to that same question.
1. Why have we sent an International Associate to the Lenca of Honduras when we have so much need to start churches here?
Yes, we need to start new churches to reach more people in Ellis County. However, we have about 160,000 people living in Ellis County, which is a little more than the same number of Lenca in Honduras. There are about 250+evangelical churches in the county while the Lenca have 30+ Baptist churches with many villages having no evangelical work. There are an estimated 53,000 Christians in Ellis County while among the Lenca there are about 1,500. The need among the Lenca is far greater than the need in Ellis County. We have so much and the Lenca have so little. How can we not go and share the gospel with them?
2. Why should EBA be involved in International Missions?
When we adopted the purpose statement for the Association (EBA is a partnership of autonomous churches cooperatively networking to expand God’s kingdom both locally and globally), we understood the association would reach out beyond the borders of Ellis County to fulfill the Great Commission, which everyone has been commanded to follow according to Matthew 28:19-20.
3. Why did we pick the Lenca of Honduras?
The Lenca was chosen in cooperation with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. We originally considered an unreached people group in Guatemala. The Entholinquistic Coordinator for IMB suggested the Lenca of Honduras because they spoke Spanish so our associate would not have to learn both Spanish and the heart language of a people group.
4. Why don’t we do partnership missions rather than send an International Associate?
Partnership missions is a wonderful way to do missions, however, it is a hit and miss approach. It is a short-term kind of commitment sometimes with limited results. It was felt a strategic approach with a long-term commitment would have greater impact for God’s kingdom. In fact, sometimes partnership efforts can be harmful to the local work rather than helpful.
5. Why don’t we send the money to mission agencies as they have needs?
We encourage churches to continue to support the mission agencies; however we have raised more money for missions from Ellis County because we put a face (an International Associate) to missions. Additionally, we recognize the younger adults are not as loyal to supporting missions because they want to know how their money will be spent. Younger adults want more involvement than sending their money to a mission sending institution and trusting it does well.
6. What does the International Mission Board think about EBA sending an International Associate?
They are very supportive. In fact, we will work with them in a covenant relationship to develop the work. They recognize there are more people groups across the world that has little or no witness for Jesus. They are in the process of realigning their work to reach the most lost people groups in the world. This means they will be reducing the numbers of missionaries in Middle America (Mexico and Central America) and increasing missionaries in the Middle East and Far East. In fact IMB is looking for more churches and associations to take responsibility for a people group.