Sorry, another short update because it is already past midnight and we have an early start with a long last day ahead of us. Today, we were able to visit a special place to the mission known as Finca Belem, which translates into English as “Bethlehem Farm.” There is a neat story with respect to its naming and the reason for it. The short version is that they were looking for something that matched the name of the area (it is near a place called “Israel”) and something that signified new beginnings. And it really is a place for new beginnings… in a way, it’s the point where, for many, heartbreak turns into hope.
The national missionaries we support founded this place as a training center for street kids to learn two things: a trade to get them a job and off the street and to learn about the amazing God who loves them and wants to give them hope in this life and the next. We heard some powerful and absolutely heart-shattering stories from some of these kids. I cried. Some of these kids had been living on the street by themselves since they were 8 years old. One survived a shooting at the age of 11, a shooting that took the life of his older brother. All of them have just barely survived hopeless existences… and now all of them are discovering the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. They can learn wood working, welding/metal work, ceramics, farming, or cosmetology. And many of them go on to the Nicaraguan Bible Institute to train to become pastors in local villages. It’s amazing what these leaders are doing for kids that their society would rather throw away. And some of them are on track to becoming the leaders of the next generation of followers of Christ in Nicaragua.
We also had the chance to see a very powerful and very recent success story with some farming techniques our missionaries are showing them. Which reminds me, if you didn’t catch this already, the people we are supporting are from Nicaragua/Honduras, so they speak the language, live the life… they ARE what is known as “nationals” or “national missionaries” in that they go to minister to people in their own culture… so they’re much more effective as missionaries. But our guy and his father are also agricultural engineers, and they’re using their expertise to help local farmers grow bigger and better crops. The problem they had been encountering was that the locals wouldn’t believe them when they told the farmers what they could do for their harvests and the bigger yields that would come. Until a local farmer, who happens to be a respected local leader, took a chance with their training. And sure enough, we were there to see the results of this first crop. The yield and harvest is bigger than this man has ever seen (several times bigger, in fact) and this was during a very bad year for growing crops. This is opening doors for sharing the Gospel and changing peoples’ hearts and minds in many other ways.
It’s been a heart-breaking trip for us, but also an inspiring and hopeful trip. There is much that has been done in Nicaragua… but it’s just the beginning… and we have the unique honor of being among the “first to the party” with the missionaries we are supporting (in fact, I recently learned that we were the first church to support Juan Carlos and his family)… and there are so many more ways we can serve, help, and fund the amazing work being done here.
Pathmakers Church has always held three important visions about missions… 1) that we need to be missionaries in our own spheres of influence, our own “little worlds”, so to speak, and to reach out and serve the lost in our traffic… and 2) that the best missionary to any particular people or place is going to be someone from that place. That’s why we make the best missionaries in our careers, our extra-curricular activities, our neighborhoods, our schools… and it’s also why national missionaries make the best missionaries to their communities, too. And that we need to support both efforts. And finally, 3) that because it is less effective to throw a little money at a lot of different places (though, much more glamorous when you put the world map on the wall in the hallway), that we would seek out one, two, or maybe three international missions efforts and pour our resources into maximizing those. Sure, the map might be empty (and hey, the school wouldn’t let us hang one up anyway…), the lives of the people we are supporting and helping will be quite full. And that’s really what matters… not that we “feel” good, but that we actually “DO” good!
One of the Sundays in October, we’ll spend some time talking about our trip with the leaders that went this time. And about ways that we can further support the ministry of Missions Door in Nicaragua, both as a church and as individuals, couples, and families. I hope you’ll begin praying about ways you might support the ministry down here in Nicaragua in the coming days, months, and even, years.
And I hope you’ll consider coming back to Nicaragua with me. Because, Lord Willing, I expect to be back. Hopefully soon. And hopefully, many, many tmes.
I (most definitely) HEART Nicaragua! And I believe you will, too.
Keep praying for us, please. We’ll be back soon.
P.S. Andy and I had the unique privilege of delivering a two-language sermon to a key church in the city we are in. I spoke in English and he translated into Spanish. I know a little Spanish and he polished up a few things I said in English when he translated. So, I got a lot of compliments from people that it was “great message.” But, in reality, it was Andy who took a medium-good message and made it great! Feel free to hire him for your translating needs. He makes you sound way better in Spanish than you’ll ever be in English! 🙂