Masaya is a bustling city of approximately 140,000 people, located in the heart of Nicaragua. It is a 30 minute drive from the capital of Managua. Like any typical North American town, it consists of people trying hard to make a living, while squeezing in a small amount of entertainment and religion on the side. Like most Latin American towns it is steeped in religion and confusion and, like any typical Nicaraguan town, poverty is the norm, drunkenness is widespread, and immorality is rampant.
God was working in Masaya long before we arrived. Javier, a middle-aged man living in the capital of Managua, was saved in July of 2007, through the witnessing of his neighbor, Grant Ferrer. Javier had a burden for his unsaved family in Masaya, so he and Grant began having weekly Bible studies there in Javier’s sister’s house. In October of the same year, Mark Bachert and Kyle Wilson began having gospel meetings in El Valle de la Laguna de Apollo, a small village about 15 minutes from Masaya. Given the proximity of El Valle to Masaya, it was felt wise to bring any interested souls from Masaya to the meetings being held by Mark and Kyle. We had only recently arrived in Nicaragua and our Spanish was still very limited, but we realized that this was an area where we could be of help. We purchased a van and began filling it nightly.
God blessed in a remarkable way in the gospel efforts in El Valle and, in February 2008, an assembly was formed. Javier, who had since relocated to Masaya for work purposes, was among those who broke bread there on that first Lord’s Day morning. God continued to work following the formation of the new assembly at El Valle, with souls being saved and gathered out both from the immediate area around El Valle and also from the town of Masaya.
By late 2009 and early 2010, there were a large number of people from Masaya coming to the meetings in El Valle. In addition to the 15 or more people coming in our 12-passenger van, there were sometimes close to the same number coming in a pick-up truck we had purchased (in Nicaragua you can legally transport as many people as you can fit into the back of a pickup). It became very clear that God was working in Masaya, and after much prayer we decided to center our efforts there.
Isaiah and Sylvia Frazier (Wisconsin) agreed to work with us in Masaya and plans were made to do a Seed Sower distribution. With help from the believers in El Valle, during the month of April, 30,000 Seed Sower texts were stuffed with invitations to a gospel campaign. We rented a storefront in the city, bought some chairs and set up for gospel meetings. Mitch Parent (Jinotepe) volunteered to map out the city and organize the Seed Sower distribution, and with the help of 76 believers from five assemblies here in Nicaragua, an invitation was distributed to every house in Masaya. Another 4,000 were given out in the market.
Some of the local brethren started wondering if, with that many invitations distributed, the response would be too great for the capacity of the small storefront we had rented. They wanted to put up a tent. Mark helped us obtain permission from city officials to install a tent for two weeks in a highly visible square in the center of the city, directly across the street from the rented storefront. Brother Raul (El Salvador) and I began preaching May 2nd. The attendance was most encouraging, with more than 20 unsaved out each night. Support from the believers in Dolores, El Valle, and Jinotepe was appreciated. On the first Friday night we had well over 200 in attendance. Truly we serve an awesome God who is still in the business of saving souls. Given the exceptional interest, we obtained permission from the city to extend the tent meetings for another two weeks. Isaiah (who had just returned with his wife Sylvia from the US) helped in the last two weeks.
During the gospel tent series, Mark and Kyle, with help from the local believers, decided to have a week of children’s meetings in the tent during the day. Children in Nicaragua attend school half days so they planned to hold a morning and afternoon session each day at the tent to cover as many children as possible. They went around to all the schools in the area to invite the children. Again the response drove us to our knees to thank the Lord. The morning attendance was close to 100 and the afternoon was around 300.
A good number of souls professed faith in Christ and have since shown an interest in learning what God now desires for their lives. Some of them saw the truth of baptism, so using a portable baptism tank, three young people and an older lady obeyed their Lord.
The work in Masaya is still young, and faces many challenges. Many of the new Christians have complicated lives. Our fellow workers and the believers in El Valle have been very supportive and helpful throughout this transitional time.
Isaiah and I have been busy visiting the new believers and teaching them assembly truths. On August 1st, we sat down with a small group of believers in the city of Masaya, to break bread for the first time in remembrance of the Lord according to His instruction. It was bittersweet for us, as we are no longer with the believers in El Valle, where we have made many friends. We have once again been asked to leave the familiar, and move on. And so, seeking to be obedient to our Lord’s command in Matthew 28, we also claim His promise that “I am with you always” (v 20).