From Barry Blades: Pastor Stan has admonished us to embrace the Great Commission and “GO, to the end of the street and to the ends of the earth." Just two weeks ago, eight of us were blessed as we traveled to Nicaragua on a short-term mission trip. Pastor Stan, Kathy and Laura Friesen, Laura Dickman, Kristen Spear, Pam and Bruce Van Bebber and I journeyed to Nicaragua to build relationships with 30 young girls who were rescued from the Managua, Nicaragua, dump and now live at the Villa Esperanza, to pray with two passionate pastors serving in separate small churches, and work at a Nicaraguan elementary public school alongside the principal, some teachers, a few parents and several eager children.
I will speak briefly about each of these opportunities. At the Villa Esperanza, where Eastminster youth have served before, we were the first all-adult group from Eastminster to visit. These girls were literally rescued from the city dump, where they lived with their families hoping to find something to eat, recycle or sell. In their early teens, at the latest, most were nudged into prostitution to help provide some income for their families. In those circumstances, education is a low priority and there is little hope to break the cycle…children bearing children, more mouths to feed, no hope.
The Villa has rescued about 30 girls from this environment and provided them food, clothing, shelter, the gospel message, a Christian education, and real hope! They live in a structured environment, with a few girls per house with a “house mom," where they learn life skills. They learn to respect themselves and their bodies, AND they learn about Jesus Christ and his plan for them.
Each of the two pastors we met is passionate for the sheep God has given them. They minister to their desperately poor congregants who live near the church. The “streets” are mud, the one-room houses are small with perhaps a concrete floor with rusty tin walls and roof. They eat beans and rice every day. Where we visited, the city trash truck does not come so people dump their trash at the end of the road. The short cut from one part of the “neighborhood” to the other is through the trash. In these circumstances, we “prayer walked” the streets and prayed specifically with a woman who cried as we asked God’s blessing on her new home, a pregnant teenager along the path, a man in his early 30s who is wheel chair bound with a bullet lodged in his spine, and woman about my age but who looked 20 years older, suffering from asthma and osteoporosis.
Finally, we spent two days singing, doing crafts, sharing the gospel and working alongside the elementary school principal, some teachers, a few parents, and several adorable children eager to help. The kids had no books, the school desks certainly looked like “hand me downs” from another school (or perhaps another country), and the school was of simple and sterile cinder block construction. The whole school was five rooms, strung end to end, with only natural light because the light bulbs had been stolen.
But here is the lead story…Christ is there at the Villa Esperanza, saving girls and making a generational change. These girls are changed forever. Jesus is there in humble pastors ministering to and personally visiting their congregants with the message of hope and salvation, and Jesus Christ was there as we worked side-by-side with pastors, teachers, parents and students to share the love of Christ with people who seemingly live in a different world, who speak a different language, but who need Jesus just like you and me.
It was a privilege to go to Nicaragua. It was life changing for us. It was life-giving to us to us as well, and we pray that it was life-giving to our new friends in Nicaragua.
From Kristen Spear:
If you want to see demons overcome, you should go on a mission trip.
If you want to pray like you have never prayed before, you should go on a mission trip.
If you want to feel the peace of God fill your entire body, you should go on a mission trip.
If you want to be reminded of how easy it is to do ministry and feel God's power while doing it, you should go on a mission trip.
If you want to ask questions and learn more about Scripture, you should go on a mission trip.
If you want to learn how to accept gifts from the poor, you should go on a mission trip.
If you want to walk into the grocery store and stand in awe at all the food we have, you should go on a mission trip.
As Christians, we have the answer to true life. We discovered an aspect of it that we do not normally do here in our normal surroundings, but it was fun and invigorating and we sensed Jesus with us. We want you to experience this too. Go on a mission trip! Tell God you want to go, and listen for his assignment. We promise the mission trip will change your life forever.