Our TACA airline flight from Managua landed briefly in San Salvador then we took off again for Mexico City. After a bus ride to Temixco, we landed back at the base around 2am. Nicaragua was a great trip. This past week was a practicum on how to lead an effective short term missions trip. We had people from various parts of the country join us and take part in some really great ministry in a very needy part of the world.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti. It has had more of it’s share of political, economic, and natural disaster turmoil over the centuries. Most recently, the new President, Daniel Ortega, is working hard to implement socialist and Marxist philosophies similar to that of Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia. He is very controversial both in his own country and the world. In the 80’s, under President Ronald Reagan, America was involved in supplying financing to “contra” forces aimed at ousting then then President Ortega. Now America is seeking stronger diplomatic ties with the country, but the Ambassador says that the relationship is admittedly shaky at times.
Headlines in the local Managuan paper stated that “Ortega would not tolerate democracy.” Other articles hinted at an upcoming policy of weath “redistribution” in the country which basically entails taking assets from the “rich” and giving them to the poor. Sound familiar in any way to a certain American political parties ideology concerning taxes? Anyway, I digress.
The Sandinista political party is working hard in Nicaragua to ensure “more victories” in the wake of Ortega taking office, but I sense that most of the Nicaraguan people are not onboard. Especially since Ortega won the election with only thirty something percent of the vote. The other two parties split the vote, with no party choosing to back out. This caused Ortega to win. The party was on the street daily from what we saw, seeking to win the eharts and minds of the people. In some cases, the work has turned violent with street gangs keeping the opposition from being able to hold public rallies.
So what does this all have to do with missions? To me, it speaks of the reality that the conditions of nations change as time moves on. Receptivity and access can ebb and flow. Perceptions of your work can change over time. And doors can open and close in a moment. The time to act is when the opportunity is still there.
This week I was able to minister to the people of Ciudad de Sandino through medical and dental clinics, children’s ministry, construction projects, and preaching the Gospel. We saw hundred of the cities poor impacted and touched by God’s care demonstrated through his people. I spoke out of Ephesians 4 to a local church about how God is calling them to impact their community and their nation. All of the people that God chooses to use are weak in the eyes of the world, but they are the ones who turn it upside down for God. The people have the power to change their nation and I am glad to have been privledged to be able to serve them and equip them in a small way through both words and deeds. To God be the Glory.
As part of my 10 week training, as I mentioned before, I was able to learn how to lead a successful short term missions trip. “Vacations with a Purpose” is what Mike and Deborah, founders of Life Link Int., call them. I like that. God uses these trips to do practical work in many places of the world, but many times the ones most impacted are the people who spend their time, energy, and money to travel from the States and serve. One thing is for sure. The Turners know how to put on a good short term mission. They have already done 11, just this year!
Their vision for the people of nicaragua is contagious and the things they can do with a small amount of money is inspiring. They are in the midst of building a large missions base that will house a feeding center, primary schools, vocational schools, dorms for short term teams, and other great things. The greatest thing is the location of this base. It’s not in the best part of town, but in one of the worst. In the heart of Sandinista country, off the main road, off the dirt road, and down what looks like a creek bed instead of a pathway. In the middle of poverty is arising not only the base, but also a new community aptly named “Nueva Jerusalen” of New Jerusalem. This community is made up of the poorest of the poor and former criminals who are looking for a new start in life. If you can, you should definately connect with their work in Nicaragua. It is well done and worthy of all the support it can receive.
I won’t forget the brothers and sisters that I was able to meet this week from Nicaragua. They are a precious people, many who have very simple lives compared to ours, but who despite these things, are great in the kingdom of God. Pray also for the people of Nicaragua and their leaders that they too might have the hope that comes from knowing Jesus, not just knowing about Him.
We have posted pictures on our Facebook account. Go there to see them.