Friday, September 7, 2012

Following the Way

Following The Way
Ordinary 23B
Mark 7:31-37

Good morning, everyone!  (I hope you all enjoyed your summer vacation!)  Today, I want to tell you a story about a group of people from Pennsylvania.  Each year, they take a week of their vacation time and travel 3,450 miles to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  They don't go to Honduras to relax on the beach or pleasure camp in the mountains.  They go to Honduras to help other people.

These dedicated volunteers have named their group Operation Honduras.  Their first trip was fifteen years ago, in 1997, before any of you were born.  They flew to San Pedro Sula and fixed up the kitchen at the Emmanuel Children's Home--a home for children without parents.

The Operation Honduras volunteers put new ceilings, walls and doors in the home.  They built two bathrooms and showers.  And in the kitchen, where there was just a dirt floor, they poured a clean, new concrete floor. 

While they were there, Jim, the leader of Operation Honduras, asked the director of the home if there were any children who had medical needs that weren't being met.  The director introduced Jim to Brenda, an 8-year-old girl who couldn't hear.

Brenda was given a hearing test, and two hearing aids were made for her so that she could hear!  Brenda was the first patient tested and fitted for hearing aids by Operation Honduras volunteers.  The next year, the group returned to build more renovations at Emmanuel, and there were 10 children waiting for them--all needing hearing aids with no way to pay for them.

To date, now 15 years later, Operation Honduras, with the help of the Starkey Foundation, has tested and fitted 5,106 children with hearing aids in Honduras.  All of these children have been given the gift of hearing because a few people in Pennsylvania love Jesus and believe that as His followers, it is their job to help others.  They give their time, their money, their talent and their love to the children of Honduras.  And they feel blessed for the priviledge.

One time, Jesus was traveling in a region called Decapolis.  People brought a deaf man--a man who couldn't hear--to him and begged for his help.  Long story short, Jesus healed the man and the man and his friends were astonished!

Jesus calls all Christians to carry on his work of caring for people.  There are many ways to do this.  Some people travel the world, providing hearing aids to those who need but cannot afford them.  Some people donate money and supplies that help make that work possible.  All of us can choose to be friendly and kind to people we meet who may be differently abled.  Maybe you know someone who has trouble hearing, or seeing, or walking.  Maybe you know someone who has special challenges that make daily living more difficult than most.  These folks don't need to be stared at or teased or ignored.  They need friendship and love, just like the rest of us.  We can do that, right?  We can make it our mission to be friends.  Good.

Let's Pray.  Dear God, we thank you for the dedication and work of the Operation Honduras volunteers and so many like them throughout the Church.  Help us to do what we can to continue Christ's mission of loving care and friendship.  Amen.

Operation Honduras and the Starkey Foundation only donate hearing aids where follow-up care, such as battery replacement and needed therapies are available.  Please check out their website for further information.

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