Partners in ChristCallie
NICARAGUA - Pastor Martin, a gentle giant and commanding presence, never imagined when the protests started back in April, that his country and community would be caught in a wildfire of violence and that many in his church would be left to scrounge for the most basic things like food and water.
The Church at Brook Hills has partnered in Nicaragua with Pastor Martin for almost three years. We mostly send Short-Term teams to strengthen the network of churches that are part of Partners in Christ, an organization that connects local Nicaraguan churches together and invests in meaningful partnerships for the sake of the gospel. Most recently Brook Hills members facilitated a marriage conference at Pastor Martin’s church, and our students had the opportunity to participate with local church members by going out in the community and sharing the gospel.
Each month, Partners in Christ hosts a meeting where more than 30 pastors come together to worship with one another, fellowship together, and equip each other for the work of ministry within their communities. Pastors like Martin are devoted to the Lord and to their communities. They tirelessly visit families, hold services, and advocate for their members within their communities. This is not always easy, especially in one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Partners in Christ has the opportunity then to encourage and strengthen these brothers as they serve.
The current crisis started rather unexpectedly when pro-government gangs violently crushed a small demonstration against reforms to Nicaragua's pension system announced on April 18th. University students led the peaceful demonstrations which resulted in government backed mobs and the national police firing on them and killing many unarmed citizens. Since April, the protests have continued to escalate with government reform and the resignation of the socialist leader Ortega being the rally cry. More than 200 civilians have been killed making it the deadliest protests in the Central American nation since its civil war ended in 1990.
According to the U.S. State Department, the people are still peacefully protesting. The only weapon that many of the communities have against the government-armed militias is to set up roadblocks and barricades around the city to protect themselves and their families. Because of this, the infrastructure for goods and services is limited. According to our partners in Nicaragua, most of the factories and businesses that employ people in their community have shut down. People have no work and are having a hard time providing for their families. Funds for basic necessities, fuel, and food are becoming even more scarce.
The 5-minute drive that Pastor Martin used to take each day to the church, has now turned into an hour long walk, strategic to avoid the violence and to cross the barricades into his community. Most of the members in his church struggle with extreme poverty already and now are struggling on a deeper level to buy food. They are asking Pastor Martin for help. This same scenario is being played out throughout the network of churches in the Managua area. For weeks now, Partners in Christ has had a number of their partnered pastors coming to them pleading for help for the people in the communities in which they serve. There is urgent physical need.
By God’s grace, Partners in Christ has been able to respond and last week began delivering thousands of pounds of rice, beans, oil, and other basic necessities to 18 of their partnered pastors to distribute. Each day, while it is safe in the very early morning hours, PIC Staff begin making deliveries to each of the churches with enough supplies to take care of hundreds of the neediest people in their communities.
Through the Global Offering, The Church at Brook Hills is able to set aside resources for Crisis Relief. Last week, we, as a church, gave from these resources to Partners in Christ so they can continue to purchase and distribute food and other supplies to help alleviate some of the burden our brothers and sisters are feeling.
Pastor Martin was one of the first to receive a delivery last week as he is in one of the most affected and difficult areas. He was overjoyed and encouraged to know that he can help provide for the urgent physical needs of his congregation and community, while also sharing with them the hope that is found in Christ even as they face difficult days as a nation. His one request is that brothers and sisters in Christ would pray. Thank you, Brook Hills for your generosity to respond in times of crisis. May we commit ourselves to pray for our friends in Nicaragua and those who are suffering.
Ways to pray for our partners in Nicaragua:
- Pray for God to sustain the people of Nicaragua who are suffering and who so desperately want change in their country.
- Pray for God to change the hearts of country leaders to end the violence.
- Pray for God to continue to help Partners in Christ as they work to provide and multiply resources to hurting communities. Pray for the safety of their staff. Pray for God to be glorified as they go about their work.