El Ayudante’s Story is a testimony of how God can prosper a simple act of obedience by everyday people to bring hope and life change to tens of thousands.
El Ayudante was founded and developed because of generous donations of time and resources from multiple groups and individuals. But the original vision behind El Ayudante began because of one man’s decision to follow the Lord’s guidance. While Mel Cox did not have all of the time or materials, he saw the need and felt the call to do something in Honduras.
While attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1996, Mel Cox was invited to come and speak at a youth camp in Honduras. Because of that trip and various family ties in Honduras, Mel felt compelled to help meet the physical and spiritual needs so prevalent there. In 1998, El Ayudante Inc., was founded in the United States, with the focus of sending children in Honduras to bilingual Christian schools through scholarships. Another branch of El Ayudante was founded in Nicaragua in 2000. The Nicaragua ministry bloomed quickly, and it has now become a separate organization due to the growth in both locations.
In 2004, Mel and the board of directors placed more of their efforts in the Comayagua valley, in hopes of starting a medical clinic that would serve the mountain communities of Comayagua. They found land in Lo De Reina and purchased it by agreeing to pay the taxes that the landowners owed, a very small price to pay for the value of the land. Years before, an old man had spoken over the land saying it would be used for ministry. When Mel and his team got there, the landowners asked, “where have you been all this time?” Truly this community had been waiting for something big.
When the deed for the land was signed, a representative from each of the twelve local families was present. They signed it under the tree outside what is now the back porch of our mission house, and Saul Martinez (the community elected ‘mayor’ at the time) had a slab of concrete rock placed there. He meant it to be a testimony for the future ministry of El Ayudante. That concrete slab is still there under the tree, much like the story of Joshua crossing the Jordan river – the twelve tribes of Israel built an altar of rocks to always remember what God had done (Joshua Chapters 3-4).
Many dedicated people helped with the initial years of El Ayudante. With the help of Mark Harwell, the foundation was laid for the mission house. Mark Renfroe and his “Number #1 Team” helped construct many of the buildings and still continue to come to El Ayudante. Louis Carrion and John Mattica were very instrumental in leading the beginning years as well. First United Methodist Church of Vero Beach Florida took the clinic plans and ran with it. Our Directors, Tristand & Beth Mohagen, caught the vision in 2008.
As we look back at the history of El Ayudante, we see how God called a bunch of regular people to do an extraordinary thing, and through their obedience, God has made big things happen. We now wait with anticipation of what God has for the future.