I have twice now traveled with Rev. David Mateo and others to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The purpose of our mission trips have been to bear witness to the injustices faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community there, who are victims of extreme discrimination, prejudice, and violence. After each trip I came back a changed person, more empathetic, more hopeful, and more aware of the power of God’s grace.
On one of our trips we made repairs to a home that provides housing for HIV+ gay men, and HIV+ women and their children. It is also a shelter to those coming to the city seeking HIV/AIDS related health care. The house is one of the few available to people with HIV/AIDs who are often refused housing because of their disease.
Transgenders seem to bear the brunt of discrimination and violence in the country; they are easy targets. They are often victims of hate crimes, including murder, that go uninvestigated. They are denied education, and therefore, safe employment and the resulting dignity that comes with it. And the government condones for the most part, the cruel mistreatment of these marginalized people. Out of necessity, because of few other work options, some transgender’s are forced to prostitute themselves in order to survive.
What God asks of us, the prophet Micah said, is to love kindness, seek justice and walk humbly with the Lord. I saw the 21st century application of this 3,000 year old template while I was in Honduras.
My fellow travelers gave their own time and money to make the trip; they brought their various talents and found creative and resourceful ways to put them to use. These gifts were gratefully received from those we served. I learned there are no trivial acts of kindness or giving; giving in any amount, and even small acts of kindness add up, it means something; it’s powerful.
We went seeking justice in a country with the highest rate of homicide in the world, where many live in poverty, whose infrastructure is lacking and whose religious leaders (Catholic and Protestant) turn a blind and ignorant eye to those who don’t meet their moral test for compassion.
On one of the last days of our trip, Rev. Mateo presided over a brief prayer service that we held for the LGBT community. All who attended were also invited to receive communion and a blessing, something not available to them in churches in Honduras where they are not welcomed. Bread was blessed, broken and shared as a reminder that God is still with us, still loves us, loves everyone lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender people and all, including these least and last, were welcomed at Christ’s table. Amen.