Jon DeBell's Blog

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Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wedding Report & Our Final Day

We're back in Tegucigalpa, getting ready to catch our planes back to the states tomorrow.  The 9 days of our mission trip have flown by and God has greatly blessed us!

Ricardo and Karla's wedding was a beautiful experience in every way.  We all felt honored and blessed to be guests on such a special day for our leader.

Words can't begin to describe how honored and humbled I was to officiate at the weddings of 34 couples from towns and villages all around the area.  The civil part of the ceremony, led by the mayor of Victoria lasted about an hour and a half.  The religious ceremony added another two hours--but I think everything turned out pretty close to perfect.

Christian principles were both taught and exemplified before all the guests and family members present. All the couples were given individual moments in the spotlight and the opportunity to publicly state their vows to one another and the Lord.  At the end of the ceremony family members or friends brought rings to each couple to exchange.  There were tears of joy, in addition to many smiles and hugs.

Among the couples married were several that we have personally worked with in the past.  Thank you Jesus for seeing your fruit in the lives of these precious souls and letting us know that our efforts here have not been in vain because of the work of your Spirit!

As we went through the ceremony many different things about these couples caught my attention.  Some were so young.  Others were probably as old as me!  There were many embarrassed to be in front of such a large crowd--even shy about kissing each other.  Others were obviously thrilled to be able to publicly promise their continuing love for the  rest of their lives.      

The Lord did such a wonderful thing in my life as the ring bearers were coming forward to present the rings.  He gave me  a deep sense of love and compassion for these individual couples.  I can't quite put it into words, but I was greatly humbled to be involved in such a sacred moment--particularly as I saw the joy exuding from those bearing the rings.  I will go home to North Carolina remembering different couples and praying that God would meet the needs of their particular situations and bless their marriages.

I'll have more to share about the weddings Sunday at East.  I'll have to write another post about our visit to Los Chorritos.  There's a reason I don't do Twitter!  God bless you all!!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

El gran dia en Honduras!

Sorry to anyone who wanted an update on our trip and found nada thus far... internet connections have been hard to come by.  We have stayed busy on multiple fronts:

-Some have been working hard at Mercy House to put finishing touches on several items needing to be completed before staff can move in and groups hosted there.  It's going to be a wonderful blessing when finished.  The ability to host larger or more numerous groups will be an immediate benefit.

-The marriage conference was held yesterday (Friday) and today with numerous couples from the area receiving great teaching from our conference leaders, Courtney and Mark Donelson. (East Baptist, you will probably hearing some of their material in the future!)

-A group of us took a strenuous hike to El Membrial on Friday.  We sought to encourage and strengthen the young believers there--and saw their new church building!  Pray for God's direction and strength in their leader, Omar's, life.

-We will be heading within the next hour to the wedding of Ricardo Venegas--leader of Mercy and Grace here in Honduras.  Pray for God's blessing on his marriage!

-Tomorrow is the big day for the civil and religous ceremonies for 30+ couples.  We are praying that it will be a wonderful testimony of Christian couples wanting to do things the right way!  Pray for me; I'm humbled to be asked to have a part and want to do it right!

-Monday should be another hike to a mountain village.  I'm sore and tired, yet I'm delighted to be with such a wonderful group of fellow believers all seeking to do our parts to grow the kingdom.  To those at EBC and my family:  Thanks for allowing me to be away and participate in something so close to my heart.  Taste and see that our God is good!

(Pictures may or may not upload)


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Honduras With Mercy and Grace 2017

I've got to send a big "thank you" out to everyone who has had a part in sending me on this mission trip to Yoro Province, Honduras.  I have had many wonderful experiences where people have let me know they are praying for me, have collected clothes or school supplies, took part in our fish fry last Saturday, or simply slipped a check or some money into my hands.  I have been blown away by the interest people have expressed and I've had to stop and thank the Lord that it's evident that this mission has found a way into many of your hearts, as it has mine.  Gloria a Dios y
muchas gracias hermanos y hermanas!

We will be the first group to experience the blessing of staying in Mercy House, the new mission center outside of Victoria.  The ministry has been working and praying for this day for years and now it's finally arrived!  The ministry will be able to house more groups, host local groups and individuals for training and so much more than the small rented house we have been using.

Pray as final preparations for the marriage conference come together in the next few days.  It will be held Friday through Sunday with a mass wedding of 42 couples culminating the conference on Sunday afternoon.  This is an answer to many long-standing prayers.  God is working to change peoples hearts!

I'll be posting a few pictures and updates along the way.  Thank you again and much love to everyone!  God bless you!!! (And who would believe I was at the airport at 5 a.m.?!)

Monday, June 06, 2016

What are the odds?

An interesting thing happened in our worship service yesterday.  As part of our sermon series, "What Jesus Says to His Churches," we featured the story of Adoniram Judson.  Judson was a pioneer missionary to Burma for nearly forty years in the early 1800s.  His life serves as a tremendous example of the perseverance of the saints.  Pastor Wil did a great job in telling his story of faith, vision, commitment, self-sacrifice, and fruitfulness for the Lord.

While preaching I noticed a visitor seated toward the back of the sanctuary.  After the service I introduced myself to her and asked her name.  "Nu Nu," she replied.

"Where are you from?"


"Burma?" I asked, almost not believing what I heard.

"Yes, Burma," she replied with a smile on her face.

When I asked if she had heard of Judson she replied that she was familiar with him because he had translated the Bible into the Burmese language.  And I smiled too.

Perhaps in my 35 years at East the name of Adoniram Judson has been mention 3 or four times. Maybe.  And when have we had a visitor from Burma in a service?  Maybe once before that I remember.

So what is the likelihood of a visitor from Burma showing up on the one Sunday in 35 years when the life of Adoniram Judson was a major feature of the message?  Just what are the odds?  And you tell me:  Is what happened yesterday a mere coincidence or a God thing?

As for me?  All I can say is God is good!  Thank you Jesus!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Now we're "extremists"?

Jennifer Roberts, the mayor of Charlotte, stated in an interview last week that Charlotte's values have been hijacked by "extremists".  She made that comment in response to a question about legislation enacted by the North Carolina general assembly which now prohibits local municipalities from adopting legislation which will grant protected status to the LGBT community, including allowing individuals to choose whichever bathroom facility they identify as their gender rather than their birth gender.

Extremists!  Extremism is defined by Merriam-Webster as "belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable."  Last year our own city council rejected a similar measure that this year's council approved.  I guess those who voted against it either time are extremists too.  Extremists hold views that aren't worth hearing.  They are dangerous to a society.  Extremists are attacked, vilified, condemned, and hated.  Some even believe they should be silenced.

How can anyone with open eyes, ears, and minds not see that this is exactly where our society is heading?  Politically correct speech is idealized and idolized by many.  Any who do not go along are demonized and ostracized.

Georgia's governor just vetoed a measure protecting religious groups from prosecution for following their conscience in not marrying gay couples.  His reasoning was swayed by a host of businesses and groups such as the NFL and NCAA threatening boycotts against Georgia if they enacted this sensible measure protecting religious liberty.  Imagine a same sex couple coming to our church who did not share our beliefs, demanding that we conduct a wedding ceremony for them or they will sue us. That's ludicrous!  But read the tea leaves; the United States is clearly marching in that direction.

In addition to same sex marriage we now have things like states paying for prisoners to have sex change operations--along with insurance companies providing that coverage as well.  We have Caitlyn Jenner being named the "woman of the year" by Glamour Magazine.  We have city councils decreeing that you can use whichever bathroom you feel that you should.  Turn on your TV and these alternative lifestyles are constantly being shoved down our throats as normal, and as societal progress to be celebrated.

Just a few years ago those advocating the broadening of the definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples, the acceptance of changing one's gender, and acknowledging bisexuality as a normal, moral lifestyle would have been identified as extreme in their views by the vast majority of Americans. These actions, now becoming everyday occurrences, seem nonsensical to those of us brought up with traditional, biblical values.  Even the pretense of being a Christian nation is quickly fading into the past.

There are those who will read my views and label me a "hater".  I don't hate anyone.  But the Christian ethic to love does not mean that we are commanded to accept all views and lifestyles as good.  The call to love is also a call to speak the truth.  Our society is sick.  We need the type of help that only God can give.  If Christians remain silent, if we allow the popular media to shame us into biting our tongues, if we allow the demigod of political correctness to bully us and marginalize us without a fight--then who will speak up?

These days harken back to the early days of Christianity when followers of Jesus were unapologetically counter-culture to the pagan Roman world in which they lived.  They were identified as having extreme views and lifestyles. There were many who would not cave in to the demands of their society and paid for their commitment to Christ with their lives.  Christians, let us speak up while we still can--and let's be careful to live out the values we proclaim!

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ."  --Ephesians 4:15

Thursday, March 10, 2016



Hiking back down the mountain from Tierra Amarilla I paused for a moment and asked Pastor Benigno, “Where is your village, La Laguna?” He just smiled and pointed straight across the river valley to the other side.

“Do you see the school?” he asked. And I could. It was unmistakably clear to me even far in the distance.

Something else was clear as well–a memory from thirteen months ago when I had been in La Laguna. One day I was with our Honduran leader, Ricardo Venegas, when I stopped him and pointed across the valley. “Ricardo, what do you know about those homes way on the other side?”

“Not much,” he replied. “We don’t have any work over there. There are lots of villages and homes all over these mountains.”

Ten days or so before our mission trip to Honduras we heard about a woman who had knocked on the gate of the mission house in Victoria. She shared about a village way up in the mountains where people were hungry and cold. The ministry promptly bought a large quantity of food supplies and gathered some clothing for the village. But there was no one to take the supplies to them before we arrived on our trip.

Driving from the airport in Tegucigalpa to Victoria I asked Ricardo, “What about the village where people are hungry? Have they got their supplies yet?”

“Not yet my brother. It’s a long hike up there and there has been no one available to do it yet. Maybe there’s a way we can get it done when we hike out of El Membrial on Wednesday.”

We hiked into El Membrial on Sunday to discover that the men of the village had already constructed the foundation and storage shed for the water purification system we would be installing while there. We had a wonderful time with them, especially seeing how the first people who came to believe in the village a year ago are growing in their faith. Because of their work we were able to leave El Membrial a day early.

Tuesday night back at the mission house the question was asked, “Who is up to making the hike to Tierra Amarilla and taking the supplies to that village tomorrow?” We were informed that Pastor Begnino estimated that it could take us three hours just to hike up to the village. Four hands from our group of thirteen went up plus my hesitant hand. “If my legs feel better in the morning.” Lying down to sleep I prayed, “Lord you know how badly I want to be a part of that mission tomorrow. But there’s no way I can do it unless You take some of the soreness away by the morning.”

I awoke a little before six and to my joy I did feel a good bit better. We loaded up the truck and were transported as far as it could take us. We were met by some locals with horses and a donkey we used to haul up the supplies. We hiked close to four miles up the mountain to the village high up on the vista.

We were greeted with some inquisitive faces, but were made to feel welcomed. We did some crafts and songs with the children. I had the privilege of sharing the story of Jesus coming to love us and die for our sins. We then gathered the adults and children together and shared about the ministry of Mercy and Grace. Pastor Benigno read the Great Commission and told them we had come all the way from the U.S. to be obedient to what Jesus had commanded us to do. Another member of our team told the story of the sower and the seed and encouraged the listeners to have receptive hearts to the gospel that we were sharing with them. Several adults in the crowd were staring at Sean as he spoke and listened intently to every word.

People told us that we were the first gringos to visit that village. It was a joy to think that we could be among the first to take the gospel to them. We pray that soon there will be new believers there and even a church in the not too distant future.

But it wasn’t until Pastor Benigno pointed to his village far across the valley that all the pieces fell into place in my mind. This was the same village I had noticed over a year before. We had seen for ourselves that the need is real in the few hours we spent with them. The hike to meet their needs would not have been possible unless the people of El Membrial had done the work on the foundation and shed before we arrived. We didn’t know about it, but God did! I said out loud to whomever might have been listening, “God knows what He is doing!”

And He does. He sees the end from the beginning. The only question is will we join in with Him and be a part of His marvelous plan to bring salvation to lost mankind?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What happens in Vegas...

... hopefully doesn't stay in Vegas!  We're in the middle of our second day of the crusade in Victoria/Las Vegas area in Honduras.  We had a great time last night as we joined the second night of the crusade.  There was joy in Las Vegas as songs of praise filled the air.  I felt the prayers of many people as I preached.  Several people came forward to publicly profess their faith in Christ.  Gloria a Dios!  We are praying for an even greater response as we have the final service.  An evangelist from Guatemala is preaching tonight.  Be praying for him and for the Spirit to have complete freedom to work in people's hearts and draw them to Jesus.  People here are working and praying big prayers for this entire area to be impacted with the gospel and changed for eternity.

This morning we had 150+/- children and younger youth come to a special event just for them.  This is a milestone for the 20 or so churches involved as most churches do not do any significant work with their children.  We're praying for this mindset to be changed and for the many children of this region to gain a solid spiritual foundation in their early years.

Tomorrow it's off to the mountains for four hard but meaningful days of ministry.  We hope to install a water filtration system for the village, build upon the good start that new believers there have received and of course, share the gospel and see more added to the family!

Hopefully a few of the pictures of the events of the past couple of days will upload.  Please continue to pray for us.  I love you all!