MORGANTOWN, Pa. — Excitement, danger, and transformation through the gospel: the stories of missionaries throughout the past century still hold inspiration for people today. In the new book “Surviving, Thriving, and Multiplying: Three Decades of Growth in the Honduras Mennonite Church,” former missionaries tell the story of the Mennonite movement in Honduras, which started through the ministries of Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) pioneers.
“Surviving, Thriving, and Multiplying,” written by former EMM missionaries James and Rhoda Sauder with George and Lois Zimmerman, focuses on the first 30 years (1950–1980) of Mennonite church growth in Honduras. The story starts with Grace and George Miller, the first EMM missionaries to Honduras, who faced illness, injury, wildlife, the language barrier, and culture shock. Could they survive and adapt in the new culture and tropical climate?
The Millers persevered. On their very first Sunday in the village of Trujillo, they began holding open-air church services, which quickly drew a crowd in the following weeks. This was the beginning of Mennonite witness in Honduras.
In addition to sharing a detailed history of the Honduras Mennonite Church, “Surviving, Thriving, and Multiplying” provides a glimpse into the difficulties pioneer missionaries faced as they walked alongside the church from its birth to its development into a movement with hundreds of congregations and thousands of members. Letters and other primary sources connect the reader with the past through vivid stories from missionaries serving in unknown territory. The book also includes over 150 photographs spanning 30 years of mission work.
The book’s authors draw deeply from personal experience. James and Rhoda Sauder served in Honduras from 1961 to 1980. They went on to serve in Central America and the Caribbean for an additional 11 years. George and Lois Zimmerman served in Honduras from 1963 to 1977, and later returned to Central America to serve in Guatemala from 1995 to 2001.
For James Sauder, this book is a posthumous work. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 81, having devoted 30 years to missionary work through EMM.
The book’s bright cover art is by Lancaster artist Liz Hess. Hess herself is part of Mennonite history in Honduras. She was born there to EMM missionaries James and Beatrice Hess, who were some of the first Mennonite church planters in Honduras from 1951–1970.
“Surviving, Thriving, and Multiplying: Three Decades of Growth in the Honduras Mennonite Church” is published by Masthof Press and can be purchased online at masthof.com. It is also available on amazon.com.