InSpirit Church, a Christian Reformed congregation in Byron Center, Mich., and Corinto Christian Reformed Church in Corinto, Honduras, worshiped together March 21 through an online video connection. The joint worship service was a way to connect the two congregations who have been in partnership for the past seven years.
In past years, that partnership has included visits from InSpirit members to Corinto to assist church members there in repairing homes as well as building an addition to a community school.
But the COVID-19 pandemic quashed any hopes of a return visit to Corinto this year. So InSpirit pastor Randy Ledeboer got the idea to bring the two congregations together for a virtual worship service.
“We have all this technology; we need to see each other,” Ledeboer said.
InSpirit worked with a regional representative for World Renew, the CRC’s global development ministry, to coordinate setting up the joint service.
Large screens were set up in the InSpirit worship center so that members of the congregation could see their fellow worshipers in Corinto. A translator who had worked with InSpirit on its previous visits served to translate the service from English to Spanish. There were a few technical glitches at the beginning, but otherwise the service came together, lasting about 90 minutes.
“We had (our people) walk past the camera so everybody could wave at everybody down there,” Ledeboer said. “It was just a heartfelt, in some ways, an emotional, spiritual connection. It was good.”
Ledeboer’s wife, Lisa, who is the ministries director at InSpirit, coordinated the development of the partnership with the church in Corinto, and has set up all of the previous visits.
Lisa Ledeboer first visited Corinto in 2014, in conjunction with World Renew. Since then, InSpirit members have taken part in five work trips to Honduras, with a total of about 35-40 people participating.
“The biggest thing is that we have developed a relationship with the community and with the people down there,” Lisa Ledeboer said. “Obviously, there is the work component. We do a lot of community development-type work.”
The Ledeboers are hopeful of having InSpirit members return to Corinto in 2022, pending a weakening of the pandemic.
“This has been huge stuff for our church. If your church is looking for something to stretch its people and give them a better global Christian viewpoint, this is something your church should consider doing,” Lisa Ledeboer said. “As a church, we have grown so much. It may be 30-40 people who actually go on this trip, but we have a whole church family here who have been involved in these trips, whether it’s through their giving, or donating things, or just the prayer partnerships. They’ve grown so much through having a partnership like this, even if they can’t go.”