Government restrictions do not hinder BIC churches in Honduras
GRANTHAM, Pa. (Sept. 30, 2009)—Civil liberty restrictions imposed by Honduras’ interim government on Monday have not affected the Brethren in Christ churches in that country, according to a report from BIC World Missions missionaries Nathan and Cathy Bert, stationed in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
As the Berts, who live in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, reported in a message to the BIC Church in North America on Tuesday, “Many people are supporting the government and the restrictions. With the restrictions people who are traveling to work and schools can move about the city with less problems and they feel that it is safer.”
According to Nathan, the suspension of civil liberties—including, but not limited to, bans on free speech and assembly, as well as an allowance for warrantless arrests—was imposed by the government to curb the wave of anti-government sentiment stirred among Hondurans by the return of ousted president Manuel Zalaya earlier this month.
Zelaya, who returned to Honduras earlier this month after more than three months of exile in neighboring Nicaragua, “is calling for an insurrection,” states Nathan.
To that end, Nathan has observed Zelaya supporters “throwing stones at the police, burning vehicles and buildings, and marking churches and banks and government buildings with graffiti as they march through the streets of Tegucigalpa. About 3,000 to 5,000 persons have been marching in these protests.”
Despite this unrest and the government’s ban on unauthorized public gatherings, Nathan reports that church activities have not been significantly hampered. This Sunday, the BIC congregation in Tegucigalpa met at its regular time for worship. (Last week, the church did cancel prayer meetings and other activities due to a curfew imposed by local authorities.)
“People here are very worried about the situation,” says Nathan. “But in the midst of this crisis, church leaders have continually tried to point people back to God.”
Leaders like Marcos Navarro, pastor of the Tegucigalpa BIC Church,, have encouraged believers in Tegucigalpa and across Honduras to “keep reading the word of God,” Nathan states. “Staying informed is very important, but reading God’s word and knowing that God doesn’t lie is also very important. We BIC are people of peace, and we need to practice what we know about God’s word,” he adds.