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Bringing Good News and Great Joy to Roatán’s Hill Children

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Bringing Good News and Great Joy to Roatán’s Hill Children 

Churches in Honduras are sharing the love of Jesus Christ through Operation Christmas Child outreach opportunities.

Roatán, Honduras, a sliver of an island—40 miles long, 4 miles wide—located off the country’s northern coast in the Caribbean, attracts over a million tourists each year. Vacationers are drawn to the region’s clear, aquamarine waters, powdery white sand beaches, and the world’s second largest barrier reef that is ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. Most arrive on palatial cruise ships at a port in Coxen Hole, the island’s largest city, and then quickly head to luxurious hotels on the far West End.

Minutes away from the dock is Alden Webster, a sprawling hillside village that few tourists ever see. The poverty plagued area has no running water, no electricity, no indoor toilets, and no infrastructure.

The hundreds of residents who call Alden Webster home mostly live in rough, wooden shacks they constructed themselves. Sheets of metal, plastic tarps, and old car tires are also common building materials. Scores of stray, bone-thin dogs and cats roam the mountains. Witchcraft is widespread.

Travel along the narrow, dust-choked road that winds through the hills and you’ll eventually come to a flat, rocky clearing that serves as a rudimentary soccer field where local boys gather to play. Park.

Next, hike up a steep, thin strip of dirt that passes for a walking path and you will arrive at Iglesia de Dios (Church of God), a single-room, cinder block building with an uneven dirt floor and open air windows. Church membership: 21.

On a sweltering spring morning, several Operation Christmas Child staff and volunteers haul cartons of shoebox gifts on their shoulders up the hill to the church where over 130 boys and girls are waiting, along with Donaldo Peralta, 71, the church’s pastor of eight months.

Sisters Loida and Bany Varela are also present. The two are Operation Christmas Child ministry partners and planned the festive outreach event. When they reached out to Pastor Peralta about bringing shoebox gifts to the church, he wasn’t familiar with Samaritan’s Purse and wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. But he attended a meeting the sisters held and then returned home to pray.

“That night I prayed to God from 2am to 5am. I asked the Lord, ‘Is this group right, Lord?’ I started to feel my heart racing in such a way that brought me to tears. I realized then that it was a door that God was opening,” he said. He then attended an outreach event.

“I was really struck by the children because when they started to pray, the glory of God descended upon us.” ~Pastor Peralta

Children are the Present

Loida and Bany live in nearby Sandy Bay and developed a heart for the Alden Webster community. They brought in clothes and food, developed relationships with families, and encouraged local churches to get involved. They had seen the powerful Gospel impact that shoeboxes and The Greatest Journey discipleship course made in other areas of Roatán and wanted the hill children to also experience God’s love—and then share Him with their family and friends.

“A lot of people say that children are the future, but sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes they are the present,” Loida said. “In the present, a child can motivate their parents. In the present, a child can motivate their friend. In the present, a child can motivate an entire community if needed. That’s why it’s necessary to impact children.

Seeing a family come to the Lord’s feet is the biggest gift of all,” said Loida.

Screams of Joy

Loida, Bany, Pastor Peralta, and others from the church climbed the high hills and went door to door to invite children to come to the outreach. Because of their previous thoughtfulness and care, they were overwhelmingly well received.

Before the shoebox gifts were handed out, the children sang praise songs and listened to a child-friendly Gospel presentation. Screams of joy accompanied the opening of the shoeboxes as the boys and girls excitedly looked through their gifts. Many discovered soccer balls, dolls, stuffed animals, and other “wow” items, along with plenty of other goodies.