WAXAHACHIE—From media to house churches to agriculture, 61 Isaiah Ministries has formed a broad-based strategic vision to transform the spiritual landscape of the Lenca Indians in Lempira, Honduras.
Ellis Baptist Association, wants to see a church planting movement among the Lenca people. More than 100,000 Lenca Indians live in 196 villages in Lempira.The ministry, launched by
After an exploratory trip with the Ellis Baptist Association, Shannon and Kristi Hopkins formed 61 Isaiah Ministries in September 2010. In June of 2011, they moved to Honduras with their two school-aged children. Since then, they also have adopted a 3-year-old Honduran girl.
In order to fulfill the church-planting vision, the missionaries devote themselves to multiple areas.
First, they focus on gospel saturation. On a normal day, Hopkins travels from his home in the Honduran mountains to a village anywhere from 15 minutes to four hours away. He seeks to share the message of hope found in Christ Jesus everywhere he goes. When he arrives in a village, he shares the gospel either by teaching or praying with the local people. He, along with another partner missionary, preach up to seven times a week.
Hopkins also supervises the “Radio de Dios”—Radio of God—station owned by Ellis Baptist Association, which broadcasts the gospel through sermons, music and a variety of programs 12 hours each day.
Larry Johnson, executive director of Ellis Baptist Association, noted the station provides listeners a wide range of opportunities to respond to the gospel.
“It varies from different styles at different times,” he said. “We have some local pastors that buy time and preach. They are not all Baptist. There are some programs we import that we broadcast.”
While her husband preaches in villages throughout Lempira and manages the radio station, Kristi Hopkins teaches kindergarten at a private bilingual Christian school their three children also attend. She seeks to build relationships, evangelize and disciple those she encounters at school.
Once someone has accepted the gospel message, Hopkins shifts to training and equipping them to become church planters. 61 Isaiah Ministries hopes to plant 400 house churches in Lempira, and that will require a significant number of congregational leaders.
“It’s impossible for me to plant 400 churches,” Hopkins said emphatically.
So, 61 Isaiah Ministries hosts monthly training for 25 to 60 pastors from churches across the country. Hopkins emphasizes discipleship relationships, and he immediately helps and encourages new believers after they receive the gospel message.
Hopkins hopes to imprint the DNA of new indigenous believers so sharing the gospel becomes a natural part of their lives. When Lenca Indians accept Christ, Hopkins encourages them immediately to share the good news with their friends, family and anyone they may encounter. He contrasts that with the approach he observed as a youth pastor in the United States, where “we share with them, we pray with them, and then we get them involved in church.”
The 61 Isaiah vision also involves meeting the physical needs of the Lenca people. Funds provided through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering enable 61 Isaiah Ministries to deliver food to families at times of year when the need is the greatest. The average Lenca Indian makes $5 to $7 a day, Hopkins said.
“There are people here who just have some physical needs we need to meet,” Hopkins said. “Sometimes people just need some help.”
Hopkins also tries to meet the needs of the Lenca people by helping develop more efficient agricultural practices. He particularly sees the potential in aquaponics, a method of growing fish and vegetables in a re-circulating system inside a tank to maximize food production and minimize waste. Hopkins has an agriculture degree from Tarleton State University and spends some time each week researching and experimenting how to recreate an aquaponic system from local Honduran parts.
Ultimately, Hopkins wants to take the system that has worked well in the United States and put it into the homes of the Lenca people.
“It is something we can give them so they can help them feed themselves,” he said. “It is a very sustainable practice. It won’t feed a family year-round, but it will help in a time of need.”
Finally, prayer backs everything at 61 Isaiah Ministries. Alongside its financial support each month, Ellis Baptist Association prayerfully supports 61 Isaiah Ministries. Hopkins challenges the Lenca people to pray from a different mindset. Rather than asking God to bless them, he urges them to ask God to reveal ways they best can serve him. The fruit of that shift in direction in prayer has been staggering, Hopkins said.
“We’ve seen some amazing healings and some amazing relationship changes and amazing impact on people’s lives as they have gotten close to God,” he said.
Editor’s Note: After the article originally was posted, it was edited to correct minor misstatements in the third and fifth paragraphs.