OLANCHITO, Honduras—People in Olanchito, Honduras, know members of Texoma Cowboy Church as the “Christian Cowboys.” They also know them as people who cared enough to build soccer fields for their community.
The first two mission trips volunteers from Texoma Cowboy Church in Wichita Falls made to Olanchito focused on evangelism and building relationships with the people of the community.
The group’s most recent trip grew out of a soccer game mission trip coordinator Jay Lawson observed during a journey to Honduras three years ago.
“We were looking through the chain link fence in the school yard,” said Lawson, a member of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board. “We noticed even though it was kindergarten soccer, it was big league. The kids played their hearts out, but they were playing in mud.
“That’s when I said to myself, ‘What kind of connection could we make to the community if we built a soccer field?’”
Install turf, assemble bleachers
Texoma Cowboy Church made plans for the installation of artificial turf for a soccer field. With connections in the church and help from several companies, the church secured donated bleachers and artificial turf for the soccer field.
The labor-intensive trip to install the turf and bleachers involved 11 church members, including Lawson and Pastor John Riggs. Before departing for Honduras, all team members were trained in how to install an artificial grass field.
In Honduras, the team primarily focused on constructing the field, while continuing to build relationships with the people of the community.
“There were many local volunteers that helped us with the field, and they asked for nothing in return,” Lawson said. “In the process, our team got to know them and build relationships while sharing with them who our God is.”
A pair of churches in Olanchito invited the missions team to lead Bible studies two evenings.
“They welcomed us and invited us to be a part of everything they had going on,” Lawson said. “All of the people were beautiful, friendly and treated us well.”
Work garners national attention in Honduras
The team’s work received national attention in Honduras. The mayor of Olanchito, along with members of the community, held a formal dedication service for the new soccer field that received national television coverage.
On the chain link fence surrounding the soccer field, the volunteers posted John 3:16, translated into Spanish.
“Everyone couldn’t thank Jesus enough—principals, teachers, families, everyone,” Lawson said.
This trip made an impact on each member of the team, Riggs noted.
“I saw God working through the smiles of the kids. I saw the amazement, almost to the point of disbelief, on the faces of the adults in the community that what was happening was really taking place; it wasn’t just a dream,” he said. “In the atmosphere, you could feel the warmth and presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere we went.”
Texoma Cowboy Church already is planning a fourth mission trip to Olanchito. They will partner with Texas Baptist Men to build a water well for a nearby agricultural school, while focusing on starting cowboy churches.
‘Find a connection’
Reflecting on his church’s experience in Honduras, Riggs learned principles that could be applied to other churches interested in planting new congregations.
“Missions is critical in the life of any church or believer. For those who take the opportunity to share the gospel in a place where it’s not preached, you get to see God’s power, might and work in ways we don’t see often here in our own country,” Riggs said. “I would encourage everyone to engage in missions, not only overseas but here at home. A church that stops being mission-minded is a church that starts to die. We have to constantly be reaching out.”
“It’s simple,” he said. “Pick out somewhere in the world that doesn’t have cowboy church and teach them how to start one, what it’s all about and the reason why we do it. Try to find a connection in the country you desire to go to. Also, talk to Texas Baptists. They have the way, the means and the connections to plant churches.
“Don’t get in God’s way once you’ve decided to do your project. Plan on God taking care of it. Just go.”