The relationship between churches in the United States and those in need in Honduras began in February 1995 when 30 Jacksonians, led by 15 members of Northminster Baptist Church and joined by 15 builders from other local churches, constructed five Habitat for Humanity houses in the small village of Buenos Aires, Honduras.
In 1998, Northminster was joined by Covenant Presbyterian Church and members of several other churches which enabled a second week of building and construction of five houses in the village of El Eden. In addition to the construction, these trips also provided medical assistance and an eye clinic including dispensing over 600 pairs of glasses to the villagers in Buenos Aires and El Eden.
During September 1998, Hurricane Mitch ravaged much of Honduras. Jacksonians generously responded with clothing, food and other essentials that were transported via cargo ship and delivered by Habitat personnel to villages where Habitat had been active. Over $130,000 was raised to purchase food and water and to restore a local water system.
Several teams continued to build houses through Habitat for Humanity in Honduras but the teams were also interested in building churches, creating feeding centers, sponsoring children in school, conducting VBS and taking medical teams. Habitat for Humanity International manages the construction of houses for people who can afford to pay for them. Because our teams were wanting to provide homes for widows, widowers, elderly and disabled people who could not afford to pay for their houses, and also wanting to provide all these other activities and additional needs outside the scope of Habitat’s mission, it became apparent that a change in strategy was needed. Consequently, in 2002, many churches agreed to support the newly formed Honduran ministry, Ministerio Sal y Luz (Sal y Luz), which was born upon the departure of Melvin Flores from Habitat for Humanity in the fall of 2001. At that time, Salt and Light Ministry Foundation was formed and legally incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization in the State of Mississippi to provide the necessary financial support and governance for Ministerio Sal y Luz.
As the Ministry began to grow and evolve, the need for a dedicated office facility became apparent. Also recognizing the lack of ongoing medical and dental services in the villages served by Sal y Luz, the idea was born to build a facility to house both the administrative personnel for Sal y Luz and to house a full-time medical and dental clinic. Thanks to the generosity of so many, our Clinica Medica Cristiana (Christian Medical Clinic) became a reality in 2006.
Originally Melvin Flores was the Director of both Sal y Luz and Director of the Friends of Barnabas. He resigned as Director of Sal y Luz for full-time employment with Friends of Barnabas in January of 2009, but still remains active on the Board of Directors for Sal y Luz. Effective January 2009, Henry Alvarenga, who had been the Regional Director for Sal y Luz under Melvin, became the Executive Director of Sal y Luz. Henry served faithfully in this capacity until leaving in January of 2014. We are thankful to both of these dedicated men for their direction and guidance in these important initial years of the ministry. Gissela Perdomo, was appointed Executive Director in January 2014, and we appreciate her love and guidance during our time of transition. In 2016, Daniel Tercero became Executive Director. Finally, to all those involved with those original trips, we will be eternally thankful for their vision and heart for the people of Honduras that we continue to serve today.