Strong buildings- straight bones
June 7 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Strong buildings, straight bones | Friday, June 7, 2002

Friday, June 7, 2002

Strong buildings, straight bones

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

NUEVO SACRAMENTO, Honduras - Three years ago, the community of Nuevo Sacramento was little more than a hope centered on a tall green hillside 20 minutes northeast of Tegucigalpa, above the valley town of Tamara. The Honduran government planned for Nuevo Sacramento to become a new village, providing housing for poor citizens rendered homeless by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Mitch, which struck the area on Halloween night in 1998 and lingered for three days.

When he learned about the new development, Cesar Pena, the enterprising pastor of Iglesia Bautista Comunion (Communion Baptist Church) saw a mission opportunity. His church, still serving as an emergency shelter for flood victims, purchased enough land in Nuevo Sacramento to build 32 houses and a church. N.C. Baptists working through the Baptist Men's disaster relief and recovery efforts pitched in to help.

Today there are about 240 small homes in Nuevo Sacramento, built along narrow dirt streets and backing up to rows of identical outhouses. Plans call for at least 400 more houses on an adjoining hillside. It is a bustling neighborhood with bus service to the city and a few small shops, called "Pulperias," that sell drinking water, snacks and basic necessities.

Standing tall over the new community is Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Sacramento (New Sacramento Baptist Church), a solid two-story cinder-block building constructed largely by N.C. Baptist volunteers.

A core group and mission pastor from the Comunion church have established a significant presence in the village. Small vegetable gardens are planted around the church building as a demonstration project for the community.

The membership consists mostly of single women and their children, with a sprinkling of men. It is common among the poor for couples to live together in "common law" arrangements that often do not last.

The church is a beacon of hope and light to the community, but it is not the only hope fulfilled in Nuevo Sacramento.

Ledin Rodas
Pushing a tiny walker through the mud on a drizzly Sunday morning in late May, a smiling boy named Ledin Rodas made his way to church. At 10 years old, Ledin is shorter than most children half his age. He was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition also called "brittle bone disease." Bones in his legs fractured so many times that they would not heal, but drew into a flattened bow shape that prevented him from walking.

But Ledin prayed every day. "Quiero caminar ... I want to walk."

Larry and Jean Elliott, N.C. natives who work in Honduras through the International Mission Board, remember how Ledin longed for someone to help. Some mission team members had sought to help Ledin. One provided a wheelchair. Others promised more but could not deliver.

Jean Elliott recalls a day when she taught the children at Nuevo Sacramento about the paralytic man who was healed after four friends took him to Jesus. After the lesson, she asked someone to pray, and Ledin volunteered.

He prayed a typical prayer at first, Elliott said, but then added words that translate to "Jesus, I, Ledin, would like to ask you to help me get to the United States, and I would like to ask you to heal me the way you healed the paralytic."

The beginning of an answer to Ledin's prayer came in the form of a construction team from First Baptist Church in Maggie Valley that arrived in March, 2000. Shawn Earnest, then 25 and on his first overseas mission trip, met the boy with the bright eyes and crooked legs.

Ledin attached himself to Earnest for the 10 days he was in Honduras, then Earnest devoted much of his life for the next year to giving Ledin a chance to walk. He found surgeons and a hospital willing to donate their time and facilities. With church and community help, he raised travel funds to bring Ledin and his mother, Deysi, to North Carolina.

Surgeons working at Park Ridge Hospital in Fletcher removed the bent bones from Ledin's legs, sawed them into short pieces, and strung them like beads onto expandable rods designed to stretch as he grows. After six weeks in a cast and six months in America, most of it spent with Earnest in Maggie Valley, Ledin returned to Honduras with straight legs, a "big-wheel" tricycle and enough money to buy his family a cow so that he and his three sisters can have milk every day.

His bones are still brittle and he will need future surgery, but Ledin can walk.

Through the love of God and the ministry of Baptists from North Carolina and Honduras, Nuevo Sacramento has become a place where dreams come true.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - To read more about Ledin Rodas, the Asheville Citizen Times has a feature story at www.citizen-times.com/honduras/chap1_1.htm.)

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6/7/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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