Hey Change Maker! My guest this week is Brenda Schumann with Light Your World Ministries.
We begin the podcast by discussing Brenda’s involvement with Light Your World Ministries and how the organization got started. Brenda describes how around two and a half years ago, she felt called by God to go on a mission trip to Honduras with her daughter for twenty days. The trip was life-changing for both her and her daughter, and they continued to travel back to Honduras periodically afterwards. Brenda explains how she didn’t set out to do missions; rather, God asked her to step up and be a part of the solution.
We then discuss some of the daily realities of the community that Brenda’s ministry works with. Brenda explains that one of the hardest things about living in Honduras initially as a non-missionary were the living conditions she had to adjust to. She explains how she only had running water for a few hours a day, no washing machine, and limited access to electricity and a refrigerator. The main village that Brenda serves is located on the side of a mountain and has about sixty families. Most of the families do not have electricity, and only some families have outhouses. None of the families in the village have running water. Most of the children don’t go to school, and among the parents that reside in the village, there is a high population of single mothers. Most of the Hondurans in the village work for between $5 – $12 a day, if they are lucky enough to secure employment. Even then, most of the jobs are not guaranteed work. Brenda comments on how even though the Honduran village is materially poor, she sees a rich sense of community.
Next, we dive further into why there’s a high population of single mothers in the village Brenda serves. Brenda attributes this issue to a lack of empowerment among Honduran men, which she links to a history of oppression. She describes how there is a high rate of alcoholism in Honduran culture, which often leads to domestic violence and family abandonment. While Brenda feels called to serve the women in the community, she comments on how she would love to see the men in the community rebuilt as well.
After that, we discuss how Light Your World tackles poverty. The ministry strongly believes that women are the answer to their own poverty. The organization aims to come in and establish a relationship with the women in the community first and foremost. Brenda describes how these Hondnuran women often possess many skills and talents that they’re not aware of – a fact that Brenda attributes to generations of poverty and oppression. She praises the ingenuity of the Honduran culture, commenting on how she’s frequently seen people from the Honduran community make something out of nothing. Brenda emphasizes that the Honduran people already have the answers to their challenges; the role of Light Your World Ministries is to come alongside community members and encourage them, reflect the truth of their ingenuity, and provide opportunities for them to explore their natural talents and skills. She describes how historically, we haven’t done a great job as North American missionaries when trying to help the Honduran community. Rather than trying to solve people’s problems for them, we should instead focus on empowering community members.
We shift our conversation to talk about how Light Your World empowers women in particular. Brenda describes how the ministry’s goal is to speak life into the Honduran women, combating the lies that oppression has taught them and providing opportunities for these women to see themselves in a new light. Brenda relays the story of how the ministry was able to successfully empower the community of women in this village by tasking them with the distribution of 11 bags of food. The ministry provided a few parameters for the food distribution, but then stepped back and let the community decide how to handle the distribution for themselves. As Brenda states, “You don’t empower by doing it for people. You empower by coming alongside and providing ideas and means sometimes, but it’s about letting them feel like they’re on the front lines and they’re winning.” We also speak briefly about how important it is to honor culture in this type of work. Brenda is acutely aware of the value of the Honduran culture, and she describes how critical it is to respect another person’s culture, even if you don’t agree with everything that you see and experience.
As we wrap up the episode, I ask Brenda who inspires her and why. Brenda calls out the women that she works with as inspirations to her. She describes how there are a lot of different parts of their life that she doesn’t think that she could do. Brenda relays how she’s frequently in awe of the Honduran women and the things they do without complaining. I also ask Brenda how listeners can partner with her to make a difference. According to Brenda, “Everyone can do something.” To emphasize her point, she relays the story of a Honduran woman who donated firewood, a source of income, when the woman didn’t even have enough food for her children. Seeing this display of true generosity made Brenda question her own giving. Even just $5, the cost of a day’s wages, can make a huge difference in the life of a Honduran woman and her children, who experience the trickle-down effect of watching their mother’s lives change. Brenda also encourages listeners to pray, speaks to the power of sponsorships, and asks for marketing and fundraising assistance. Listeners are encouraged to visit www.lywministry.com or the Light Your World Ministries Facebook page, @lywministry, to learn more and get involved.