María Socorro Pineda (middle) and her children Evelin Briggith Lopez Pineda (17) and Herson Alfredo Pineda (13) left with a migrant caravan in October but were forced by illness to come back home to Honduras. Photo: Mennonite Central Committee/Jill Steinmetz
Migration is shifting populations around the globe. Motives are diverse, from meeting basic needs to fleeing violence and seeking opportunities. People balance the hope of a better life for their children against the challenges of dangerous passage, cultural adjustment and government regulations. Churches are affected as they lose members to migration and gain opportunities to live out the gospel among people on the move.
One movement within the Americas, a “caravan” from Honduras heading for the United States, has drawn attention and polarized opinions.
Citing an average of 250 people emigrating from Honduras daily, Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña made an official statement to civic authorities, churches and the general public.
They asked civic authorities and politicians to “make serious promises to curb corruption and create transparent mechanisms for managing resources” and “to not use the current situation as a platform for party politics, since their commitment is to serve [the public].”
To the general public, the statement appeals to “keep vigilant in order to protect our citizenship rights; be united against things that lead to death and promote life-giving values that create hope for our beloved nation.”
They call all churches to “reflect deeply on the need to review the role of the church from a biblical rather than a political perspective, without any specific agenda. Consequently, we urge the church to program times of prayer, vigils, fasts, community solidarity campaigns and anything else that the Spirit of Christ motivates us to do in order to provide hope and light to a people that, now more than ever, needs a church that demonstrates and shares the grace of Christ.”
“This document outlines our conviction of the right to migrate and our demand that the integrity of each and every person be respected,” says José Fernandez, pastor and president of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña. Since the statement’s October 2018 release, there has been increased public awareness of people in need in Honduras and an awakening to Anabaptist identity in the Mennonite churches of Honduras. “We feel united and backed by the Spirit of the Lord,” says José Fernandez.