I was born and raised in the United States before making a permanent move overseas to Honduras at age 21 in response to a call God placed on my life. My last trip to visit family and friends in the United States was in 2017, five years ago. I have never considered myself to be a particularly ardent patriot nor have I placed my hopes for salvation and peace in any political icon. However, while I have been geographically removed from my homeland for this past decade, in these recent times I frequently find my thoughts being pulled uneasily toward the mounting storm on American soil and, more generally speaking, in the world at-large.
For years I gave myself permission to be uninformed on many political and world issues; I intentionally avoided Honduran newspapers in addition to online news forums displaying the latest happenings in my homeland and beyond. I contentedly focused on our small, minimalistic life in rural Honduras and our growing ministry among the materially poor. Rather than jumping to read the latest news headlines, I trained myself to jump to read the Bible and other edifying Christian literature. My husband and I dedicated our days to loving the foster children the Lord sent us rather than paying attention to the political winds that have probably been swirling around in all directions for as long as time itself.
The world, at least in my mind, seemed to be kept at bay, and our daily life on Honduran soil was thankfully affected very little by politics on either side of the border. The most we endured in our neck of the woods were occasional highway riots and national political protests. Rather than get involved with either party, we hit the streets with a Bible in hand and peace in our hearts to act as Christ’s peacemakers on the frontlines.
Now, however, in these last couple of years, I have given myself permission to become more informed in regard to the current state of my homeland. I don’t know if there has been a shift in the world or just in my relation to it, but lately, I have felt keenly aware of the dire nature of our times and the desperate need for God’s mighty hand to take the reins of America’s private and public life. I believe we are at a unique point in history.
I frequently find myself walking alone through trash-strewn streets in our third-world town or sitting quietly in my bathroom after a long day praying for my homeland, its leaders, and the powerful elite. The Bible says we are to pray for those in authority — and even pray for our enemies and those who persecute us — so I have begun to diligently put this biblical mandate into practice even in my own weakness and ignorance. My heart breaks as I see from afar that my nation is at war within itself and that truth and righteousness are becoming rare commodities.
As a family here in Honduras, we have made the daily habit of praying over a myriad of issues, both domestic and international. We pray for the sick; we pray that the Lord might protect the innocence of the world’s children even in the midst of so many evil influences swirling around them; we pray for persecuted Christians. I sit in our living room in the early mornings with my Honduran husband and Honduran foster teenagers as we pray out loud for Honduras’ political leaders, that the Lord might grant them genuine wisdom and fear of the Lord; that in God’s great mercy He might allow truth, justice, and peace to prevail on Honduran soil.
At the same time, I cry out to God in the silence of my own heart that the same might become true for my homeland.
A few days ago in the morning hours, I found myself hand-washing a large bucket of my husband’s and my dirty clothes in our outdoor pila, which we use several times a week, in keeping with the local culture. Our foster teenagers were quietly seated in our kitchen working on school assignments while my husband worked on our ministry’s accounting in our small office. We had done our morning devotional and gone on a two-mile run as a family in the early morning hours.
Doggedly trying to fly under the radar of a tumultuous new Honduran government, our academic year in our grassroots Christian school continued its tenacious, blessed march. My husband, our dedicated team of local teachers, and I cling to our calling from the Lord to teach, mentor, and to disciple for His glory, even as we daily maneuver around all the ongoing COVID restrictions and taboos in our area. So many good things are happening in our neck of the woods; there is so much to be thankful for.
I squinted as the sun had finally come out after several days of rain and gloom, and a slight, cool breeze refreshed all it touched. On our ranch, all around me seemed to teem with life and the glory of God; all seemed as it should be, and wonderfully so. Exotic birds sang their carefree tunes and flitted about. It was a perfect day to wash our clothes in the great outdoors. My eyes wandered across our lawn to several extensive sunny patches, genuine hope swelling in my chest.
Such simple thoughts, simple delights, simple routines in the midst of a daunting, uncertain world scenario that is anything but simple.
After having joyfully dedicated about an hour in the pila, I crouched down and called one of our guard dogs, a Doberman, over to pet him affectionately as joy and sorrow collided in my chest. As I stroked that beautiful animal — he and I under a flourishing almond tree just in front of our home in a remote piece of land in a forgotten country — I couldn’t help but wonder how to reconcile the peace and harmony of my immediate surroundings with the utter chaos storming about the world at large. Engaged once again in this unsettling inner conflict, I felt the Lord led me back to prayer once more for my homeland (and beyond) even as I found myself at a loss for words.
So, in the midst of all that is currently occurring, both on star-spangled soil and abroad, in the name of Jesus I want to exhort each and every one of us to pray and to cling to biblical truth in the most loving, peace-seeking manner. I encourage you to stand wherever you are, lovingly and peacefully so, for righteousness and for morality even as these have become highly unpopular points of view for some. Let us teach our children the fear of the Lord; let us put into practice the age-old virtues of respect, honor, and brotherly love. Let us come together as one nation, under God.
Jennifer Zilly Canales is a U.S. citizen and Christian missionary who has served in Honduras full-time since 2012. She and her husband Darwin are foster parents to seven precious Honduran children ages 10-18 and serve as executive directors and teachers at the Living Waters Ranch mission school for local at-risk youth. She maintains a blog at: www.HiddenTreasuresinHonduras.com.