Before 1859, when England ceded Roatan to Honduras, the island had a history of piracy, Spanish conquistadors, English settlers, native Indians and black Caribs brought here as slaves. Since becoming part of Honduras, Roatan has enjoyed relative peace and harmony among a mixture of races.
The island lies less than 50 miles off the Honduran mainland; yet for many years the predominant language spoken here has been English. Over the last few decades Roatan has become known for its phenomenal diving, with small resorts springing up along the beaches to house the increasing tourist trade.
Mainland Hondurans, looking for a way out of intense poverty, were drawn to the tourism here. The ferry that runs between Roatan and the mainland became a popular way for mainlanders to come to the island seeking to better their lives, hoping to find employment.
Through the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s the island experienced a boom in building. Expats from the US, Canada, and Europe developed resorts, gated communities, and homes of their own. This building increased interest from the mainland, bringing thousands more Hondurans seeking work. Most were unskilled, could not speak English, and were uneducated. Having arrived on Roatan and unable to find work, they began to live in barrios called colonias because they did not have return fare for the ferry.
Until recently the colonias did not have sanitation or safe drinking water. The best shelter consisted of little more than sheds.
One of these colonias sits right across the street and up the hill from Son Rise Missionary Inn. Many of the people in this colonia have come from one of the more violent regions of Honduras, seeking sanctuary on the island. Calvary Chapel Roatan’s first challenge was to improve their water and living conditions. We feel privileged to have been able to share the gospel with these dear people, many of whom now have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
We have a long way to go, though. Discipleship is very slow going as we come up against much work. The financial needs of these people are beyond overwhelming. It becomes a case of determining what can be done where and for whom with what little we have, without causing people to become dependent upon the church instead of upon God.
We welcome Christians with a strong walk wanting to come and help us seek God’s will. He has begun a great work in peoples’ hearts, not only those from the colonia but black and white islanders who attend our church. Our desire now is assist the local men and women who have raised up in ministry as the next generation to move the Kingdom of God forward. In the physical realm, there is still a huge need for food, shelter, and some better work tools.
travel-roatan.com For a good overview of the island, click here:. You will find a map of each of the Bay Islands, a description of the major villages, currency and exchange rates, and a weather link.