A prisoner’s bones ache. He sleeps on the hard ground because there aren’t enough beds in the facility. He awakes to the excited chatter of one of his cell mates. “Care packages,” his cell mate announces.
The prisoner gets up. His stomach growls. There’s never enough food; just beans. The care packages are a nice treat – toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper. It’s funny that a pastor would want to send these gifts to some of the worst criminals in Honduras. But then again, four of these prisoners are now pastors themselves because of the prison ministry. People are getting baptized and “saved.” Maybe Pastor Victor’s prison church is worth checking out.
Becoming a Christian
Victor Almendarez was born and raised in Honduras. He used to be employed at a business where a co-worker always tried to talk to him about Christ. Victor, frustrated, would respond, “We’re all God’s children.” But one day during an evening stroll, he felt an unusual need to hear God’s word. He managed to find a church that was open and spoke to the pastor. Through tears, Victor was led to the Lord by that pastor. When he returned to work, he started a small group that would do bible studies during lunch.
In 1996, Victor was called to pastor a church in western Honduras. He and five other people began passionately planting other churches. Today, they have over fifty churches that meet in buildings or homes and an official team of church planters comprised of four pastors. They have four focuses: evangelism, bible preaching, training leaders, and prison ministry.
The Struggles of Honduras
Catholicism is the dominant religion, and there are many social and spiritual problems. People come from broken families, struggle with drinking, and get into trouble because they’re bored. This all leads to many young people being recruited into dangerous gangs like the infamous MS-13. Prisons in Honduras, which are typically over-capacity, will separate individuals by current gang members, former gang members, and not-yet gang members.
Prison ministry is incredibly important to Victor. He’s planted churches inside prisons, has led prisoners to the Lord, and sends care packages enough for 700 prisoners. He’s passionate about training and raising up ministry leaders, both in and out of prison. His gives people the gospel and if they get saved, he trains them to the point where they become leaders in their own community.
During the pandemic, Victor utilized social media like Facebook and communication apps like Zoom and Whatsapp to continue his ministry. He’s excited to see all the conversations happening in central America and how God is calling central Americans to become missionaries in other countries. Some of the lives he’s seen changed include his neighbor’s. He was an alcoholic, but Victor became his friend and started teaching him the bible. He’s now a Christian who maintains a steady job and is always there for his family.
His Culture and Family
Victor and his family live on the coast. On his side of the country, they speak Spanish and typically eat rice, beans, corn tortilla, and plantains. However, different people groups, like the Lenca, eat different foods or speak different languages, like Garifuna. “It’s a country of subcultures,” explains Victor.
He and his wife Virgilia, have four amazing children. His oldest one, Rebeca, is married. His son, Arnaul, is an industrial engineer and leads worship. His other son, Esau, is in high school, and his daughter, Sarah, is graduating high school and going off to college.
His goal is to plant one hundred churches in ten years, Lord willing. He asks for prayer for his family and protection for church planters. He would also love prayer for more supporters, his prison ministry, and Honduras as a whole. Missions Door is proud to support Victor and his mission field of Honduras. If you’d like to support indigenous missionaries like Victor, who are dedicated to their country, you can do so at his page here.
How Can You Help
The Great Commission is what spurs us to do indigenous ministry. Around the world, Christians are making disciples in their hometowns and bringing the gospel to their people. How will you be a part of that?