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Political unrest in Honduras is disrupting the peak of one of the world's busiest seasons and settings for short-term mission trips.

Many North American mission groups have delayed or canceled their July trips to the impoverished Central American nation following a June 28 government-sanctioned military coup, leaving some Honduran Christian organizations in the lurch.

Orphan Outreach, a Christian relief organization in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, has sent four mission groups home early and canceled two groups slated to come in July. Another group decided to go to Peru instead. Other organizations, such as the Mennonite-backed Mujeres Amigas Millas Apartes (Women Friends Miles Apart) in the industrial center of San Pedro Sula, counseled groups to delay trips in order to avoid potential social unrest during the heated standoff between supporters of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and the interim government that ousted him.

Safety of visiting missionaries is an important concern, yet Honduran ministries admit that these cancellations have a profound effect on the local organizations that rely on mission trips to meet operational costs.

"These groups bring supplies, clothes and operational money," said Jeony Ordoñez, director of the Amor, Fe y Esperanza (Love, Faith and Hope) school for children who live and work at the municipal dump in Tegucigalpa. "If they don't come, we don't get it. [Cancellations] are affecting us significantly."

Honduras is the fourth most-popular international destination for North American mission groups, according to Robert J. Priest of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. The bulk of these groups come in June and July.

The events that sparked the cancellations—a proposed ...

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