Coup affects mission trips to Honduras


Some people would call it bad luck or timing, but Dorna Adams isn't so sure.

She led a team of volunteer missionaries to Honduras on June 27, less than a day before a military coup overthrew the country's president.

"We were there for a reason," said Mrs. Adams, pastor of Connections at Stevens Creek Church. "We trust God to guide us."

Though the team arrived home safely Saturday, unrest in the country has led another local church -- Wesley United Methodist in Evans -- to cancel its Honduras mission on July 18.

Wesley has made more than a dozen trips over the past decade. The country is a popular location for missions to Central America. There's constant demand for help with construction projects that will bring fresh water to villages or repair homes. Other missionaries commonly offer medical clinics or vacation Bible schools.

It's hardly the first chink in mission trips this summer. In April, the risk of swine flu persuaded several local churches to cancel missions to Mexico. Ironically, one was diverted to Honduras as a safer alternative.

For all the news reports featuring violence, Mrs. Adams said her team's trip was relatively calm. She watched on CNN as reports filtered in of a military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who had attempted to modify term limits in the country's constitution. It angered the Honduran Congress, which appointed its own leader, Roberto Micheletti, as an interim president.

Violence erupted as a result, and police battled protesters who backed President Zelaya in the capital city where the Stevens Creek team arrived a day earlier.

The team traveled by bus for seven hours to its village accompanied by an armed guard, but that's normal protocol for the mission agency -- Honduras Outreach International -- which hosts Stevens Creek and several other area churches every year.

"The week was full of blessings. We were very safe. I'm grateful for that," said Mrs. Adams, who carried a satellite phone and checked in with the U.S. Embassy every day in case the situation escalated.

In the meantime, the team prayed and continued serving.

"With everything that happened, there were definitely extra prayers offered up," Mrs. Adams said. "We prayed for our safety, but we prayed for our families that they would know we were safe, and we prayed for the country and for the people and for peace."

It was with plenty of prayer, too, that leaders at Wesley decided to cancel their trip.

"After the coup, we said let's give it some time before we make any decisions, but we got to the point where we had to decide," said Ronald Starcher, a missions trip leader.

The situation is too unstable, said co-leader Stan Maciaszek.

"I talked to missionaries who live there and they're keeping their truck full of gas and they have suitcases packed at the door," he said. "They already have a plan to get out of the country," said Mr. Maciaszek, who returned from Honduras in March.

A smaller trip is being scheduled for Honduras in September.

"It's a hard decision to make. People understand, but they're disappointed. They know what it means to the people of Honduras," said Mr. Starcher, who has traveled to the country a half dozen times.

His team of 17 planned to offer medical missions, construction, Bible school and a crafts lesson for women who wanted to learn to knit and crochet goods to sell in the market.

"It's disheartening to see what's going on down there, but we won't be discouraged," he said. "We'll be back."

Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or