Nicaragua is a country of many contrasts. It is the largest country in Central America, but also the poorest. We enjoy a higher level of safety than many of our neighbors, although gangs, organized crime, and the drug trade continue to filter in. The people would predominantly consider themselves Christians, but the liberal mixture of indigenous beliefs, Roman Catholic traditions and evangelical doctrines has caused a lot of confusion.
The first assembly missionaries, Oscar and Nolvia Cubas, were commended from Honduras and crossed the border into Nicaragua in 1997 to settle in the northern part of the country, where they began preaching the gospel. Soon, the first assembly was established, and by the time our family arrived in 2004, four local churches had been planted. Today there are a total of 13 assemblies with 11 missionary couples from Honduras, three from Canada, and one from the United States.
With such a variety of missionaries here from different backgrounds, we are thankful that the Lord has been gracious in maintaining unity. All the workers meet together several times a year to share information, discuss any issues, and pray for one another. The truth of assembly doctrine cannot be changed or altered in any way, but God has given us all the grace to put aside personal differences for the sake of unity, and to be able to learn from one another. May God grant that the work here continues to grow in fellowship and harmony.
For the last several years it seems that the interest in spiritual matters has declined. At one time, a public invitation to gospel meetings would fill a town’s basketball court. Now, it is more those contacted personally by the believers that are being reached. It gives me great joy to see the work grow as a result of the personal witness and testimony of those recently saved. The assembly here in Dolores continues to mature with brethren developing their gifts and increasingly sharing in the burden, both of teaching and of administration.
One of the greatest needs in the work here is godly men to shepherd and care for the flock, both in Dolores and throughout Nicaragua. Up to this point, most of the assemblies in the country are still under the care of missionaries until local brethren are able to fulfill the Biblical requirements for leadership. At times, like Samuel of old, we look at the outward signs and say, “Is this the one?” only to find out in time that he was not. We have all had to learn patience in this area, and we wait until the Lord raises up those that He has chosen instead of relying on our own limited wisdom. Although at times we question why it has taken so long, it is good to see that the Lord is touching hearts, and godly leadership is developing.
Unlike Elijah, who when called to service, left his oxen and tools behind, I did not, and 12 years after “retiring” as a contractor, I still find myself involved in a number of building projects. We have discovered that a hall for an assembly to meet in provides a certain amount of stability, as well as giving testimony to permanence within the community, and so have been involved in the construction of several. Over the years, we have built or improved small houses for the poorer Christians who lacked a decent place to live. In addition, the Honduran couples have little support from home and struggle to carry on with the work here, and so we have helped in some joint efforts to provide housing for our fellow workers. A team from the USA and Canada are planning to visit in January 2017 to help with another construction project in the northern part of the country. Over the last several years, some property owned by the assemblies has been going through a series of improvements to make it more usable for large gatherings. This year, just over 300 gathered from all over Nicaragua to enjoy the fellowship at the annual Easter conference.
A major yearlong push with the gospel is also planned in Managua, which is the capital of Nicaragua, and home to 1.3 million people. A number of young men from North America are coming, under the care and leadership of Mark Bachert and Kyle Wilson, and are planning to reach into some of the poorest neighborhoods of the city as well as the university campuses. Please pray for this effort, for blessing in salvation and for preservation for each of those involved. The assembly there is the only one in the country that is meeting in a rented building. It would be great to see the Lord’s guidance in the provision of a more permanent place for the believers to gather.
As we see all the changes in the world, we realize the return of our Lord to call His own must be very near! Of the 6.2 million souls here in Nicaragua, how many will be saved? The gospel is their only hope, so we continue to reach out with different efforts in assembly buildings, in tents, or in any way we can. At this time we have full liberty to preach the word of God in Nicaragua. We pray that this will continue.
As you pray for Nicaragua, please pray for:
- Freedom to continue preaching the gospel
- Salvation and assemblies to be established
- Continued unity in the work
- Spiritual growth and maturity
- Safety for those working here