Gehenna (Greek word for Hell in the New Testament) was a common refuse dump and a place of perpetual fire in the Valley beside Jerusalem. This illustrated the awfulness of the Lake of Fire. Jesus spoke of Gehenna in Matthew 10:28
28 nAnd do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather ofear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in 8hell. (The New King James Version)
Today we visited the city dump of Tegucigalpa, Honduras to feed the inhabitants and workers. I have been here many times over that last seven years. The smell, vultures, cows and bustling rush of garbage trucks coming in and out of the area. When you step out of your vehicle you are standing on a mountain of garbage. Immediately around me were emaciated dogs and filthy dirty workers who rummage through the garbage seeking food, plastic, bottles and other items to sell. It is their home!
They know the missionary Rick Beck who has been coming to feed them for years now. I could hear his name spoken repeatedly as many quickly gathered in line to get some healthy food. I gazed the horizon to see dozens of make shift houses made of plastic, cardboard boxes and pieces of wood gathered from the pile. I thought to myself that the population of the dump has grown since my last visit.
I stood and shared a short devotion with the crowd, prayed and began to dispense the food and bags of water. Constantly young men were tapping my shoulder for aqua. They would tip their head and a toothless smile was followed by a sincere por favor. I would return their smile and pat their shoulder. In less than thirty minutes a couple of hundred had been feed. They expressed thankfulness for the small gesture of food and love.
Rick was taking a video to show others (in America) the real picture of life in the dump. He violated one of his own rules. He got too far away from the vehicle and he was alone. Five young men came to him and wanted their picture made. Then they said give me the camera! Rick resisted and said you don’t want to do this. I am here to help you as they grabbed at the camera. One of them pulled a machete and waved it over his head. The five knocked him to the ground and groped for anything he had on his person. Rick held tight to the LCD screen on the side of the camera as they broke it and pulled it from his hand. At the same time they found his telephone and grabbed it.
Rick continued to say that he was there to help them as they ran away from the scene. Drivers of garbage trucks looked on as they drove by. Rick returned to the vehicle a little stunned but also very calm. Over seventy-five people gathered around Rick asking him what had happened. They brushed the dirt and garbage from his back as they listened intently to the story. They were surprised that Rick wasn’t mad and vindictive. Rick said he would like to have the camera back because the video will be used to seek funding for future visits to the dump. One key man said I know who they are and where they stay. We will get it for you . . . wait here. The ten men ran off in the distance.
One of the ladies asked Rick if he would even come back again assuming that this incident would stop the feeding ministry. Rick quickly said, yes, Danny and I will be back next Monday and Tuesday. He raised funds to feed you and we will do that. You could see amazement on their faces. You could tell it caused them to pause and consider the small blessing from God that had come.
I talked with Juanita who works the dump each day. She has five children and lives in a small hut outside the dump. I asked her what she was seeking each day in the dump. She said food for my children. She opened a feed sack to reveal bits and pieces of food she had scavenged that morning. She is one of the key ladies in the dump and her kind heart was obvious through her missing teeth. One of the visiting ministry construction teams had put a roof on her simple home where she cares for her children. Then I noticed a small girl standing next to Juanita. I asked her age and she said ten. Her belly clearly showed signs of having delivered a baby recently. It broke my heart. There is no telling which man is the father.
We got in our vehicles and proceeded to the entrance of the dump when the ten men came running toward us with the broken camera. Rick was surprised. Maybe the video was still on the chip and could be used. He and I debriefed the experience over the next hour while driving in Honduran traffic.
I have never visited the Crematoria (city dump) without remembering Jesus’ reference to hell or gehenna. Hundreds actually live there in the twenty-first century. I prayed that their eyes could see Jesus through our visit and behavior. I also look forward to our visits next week.
n Luke 12:4; [1 Pet. 3:14]
o Is. 8:13; Matt. 5:22; Luke 12:5
8 Gr. Gehenna
 The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Mt 10:27-28
Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.