Ethan and Ashley Batschelet are in currently in Honduras preparing to serve as missionaries through World Gospel Mission.
For Ethan it is a return trip to the place he has called home for some time, while Ashley, who most recently was serving as a music teacher in the ECHO Charter School, the move to full-time missions will be a new experience.
Over the months leading up to their move as a couple to Honduras, Ethan and Ashley had been traveling across the United States talking about what has been happening in Honduras, what they anticipate will take place and how people can help make all of that possible.
Ethan and Ashley were married after Ethan returned to the United States in December 2016, and for the ensuing 17 months they have worked to raise the funds they would need to return to Honduras.
“After 49,000 miles of travel, countless meetings, many speaking engagements and meeting many new and precious friends, we are on our way home,” wrote the Batschelets in a recent newsletter.
So why missions?
Ashley felt called to the mission field in middle school. She went to the University of Northwestern in St. Paul and earned a degree in music education with a minor in Bible. She felt called to Latin America but wasn’t sure which country.
During college, she spent a summer in Guatemala. It was a close fit, but not exactly right. She got a job teaching music at ECHO Charter School and was researching Honduras and World Gospel Mission when she was introduced to Ethan.
Ethan’s first mission experiences were in high school. His youth group went on a missions trip to Mexico every year.
During every summer in college, he served in various countries.
On one of those trips, he realized that missions would be a permanent part of his life.
A few months after arriving in Honduras it was evident that Honduras would be home.
Honduras has a lot of need. People there have heard of Jesus Christ. There are plenty of churches, but there is still plenty of spiritual need.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world outside of a war zone. Building trust with Hondurans can often have its challenges as they are not quick to trust.
However, once they reach a level of trust with you they are some of the most dedicated friends a person could ask for. Honduras is full of political corruption. The family structure is very broken. Most men have several families and aren’t present for any of them. There is a lot of child abuse.
Many people there believe they are beyond forgiveness, beyond saving because of the awful things they have done. They believe there isn’t a way for them to break the cycles of crime, poverty or abuse. They do what they think they need to do to survive.
The Batschelets believe Honduras can change, and they hope to see a Honduras that isn’t known as the murder capital of the world someday. They dream of a Honduras where it is safe to walk the streets and young children aren’t swallowed up by the gangs and all of the pressure they put on young people.
The Batschelets currently are career missionaries in Honduras at El Sembrador. At El Sembrador they serve as teachers and dorm parents.
Ethan and Ashley are with the students from when they get up in the morning until they go to bed at night. They are with them to celebrate their triumphs and encourage them in times of difficulty.
They basically do everything parents do for these students.
Ashley will teach band and be involved somehow with the new elementary school. Ethan teaches philosophy and ethics in the high school.
They are both also involved with spiritual life activities on campus. Ethan often shares the message in the church, and they both share devotionals with the students often.
“Ethan and I both grew up in Christian homes. Our journeys toward becoming missionaries are different, but they both have the same cause,” Ashley said. “We both feel called to help people and show them the love of Christ. We are willing to go wherever he calls, and right now that is at El Sembrador in Honduras.”
Before he worked at El Sembrador Ethan worked in the capital, Tegucigalpa. He worked in a gang neighborhood with both children of church members and children of gang members.
This was a very rewarding ministry, and goals were being accomplished, but a lot of what he was doing was putting out fires that would start up again the next day. He would take a kid to the doctor for medical attention when they were struggling with medical needs, but the next day there would be two more kids needing the same help.
He was reaching out to the gang members who were causing a lot of the problems in this neighborhood, but they believed they had already done so many bad things that they were beyond forgiveness, both from people and from God. They thought they couldn’t be forgiven and that there was no way out of their lifestyle.
It was very difficult work, but it was work full of blessing. One of the reasons they switched to working at El Sembrador is because they are working with the same kids from the same neighborhoods with the same issues but in a controlled environment away from the gangs.
The Batschelets are seeing lasting change happening in their lives here.
The students are away from their abusers in a safe environment. They are taught responsibility and moral, biblical principles. They receive one of the best educations in the country, learn discipline, job skills and how to care for others.
El Sembrador is a boarding school and farm. The farm provides roughly 40 percent of the school’s operating budget. The rest comes from donors from the U.S. The students rotate through various workstations every weekday.
This teaches them discipline, helps pay for their education, room and board, and it teaches them skills in various areas. They learn how to work with cattle and hogs, how to cook, how to garden, raise, transport, and sell plants and how to clean the school and other buildings on campus. Most of the students go on to study in college, but those who choose not to will still have skills needed to get a job in a variety of areas.
These students do not return home and continue the cycle of gang involvement. The students are not required to be Christians to study at the school, but they know El Sembrador is a Christian school and that they are expected to attend church and Sunday school, Wednesday morning devotions and Bible class every day.
“We have seen kids who come from these gang neighborhoods turn their lives completely around and find work, be present in their families and in their children’s lives and become leaders in their communities and churches,” said Ethan.
Prayer support is very important to Ethan and Ashley. They rely on the prayers of friends, family and other supporters. Their support comes from both churches and individuals.
There are two types of financial support, monthly giving and one-time gifts. Monthly giving helps cover the recurring expenses of life, such as health insurance, car expenses, teaching supplies, food provisions for families they work with, among other monthly expenses.
One time giving goes towards things like plane tickets, residency fees,and the financial giving they do in the community, such as paying for kids to go to the doctor or paying their school fees.
Learn more at www. wgm.org/batschelet.