Twenty-five years have passed since the last time I spent time here in Nicaragua. Back then, when you exited the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, a child might ask you for money. Today, that child is a man who helped to carry my luggage for a tip. The scorching heat was the same, and the perceived calm was tense -- you could cut the air with a knife. Everybody has a history to share, but cautiously, because the “walls have ears.”
My trip went according to plan. I explained to the immigration officer my destination and she, with courtesy and a spirit of cooperation, found the person from the church who was waiting for me. Everything was so quick and tense - very different from the Managua I remember from the ’90s. However, God is with us, and we left the airport to go where I was staying.
Six months have passed since my arrival and as I write these lines I have already learned so much. I now live in an apartment furnished by the church at an office building. I have visited most of the regions where the church has congregations. I have been preaching and worshipping with them. For many of them, it is the first time they have seen a Mission Co-worker (traditionally called a “misionero”) from the USA who participates in this way in the activities of their church.
My role right now is to affirm the use and importance of the rules of the church, the code of ethics, and the church´s bylaws. The socioeconomic and political situation of the country has a big impact on the structure of the Pastoral Education Institute. The difficulty of movement throughout the country, the absence of stable work, the high cost of living, the stagnation in education, and the enormous impact of the current crisis affect Nicaraguans and their everyday life, as well as their participation in church activities.
The teachings of Jesus guide us to better participate in mission. Jesus opted to serve the poor and the marginalized. These are not just empty words. He lived with the poor, and he shared bread with people lacking it (Mt 14, 16). He freed the captives and those oppressed by unjust laws (Mt 2, 27). Jesus healed sick people (Mt 8, 16), gave life to the dead (Mt 9, 18-25), and freed sinners and slaves (Mt 9, 2). He gave sight to the blind (Mt 10, 51-52) and opened the eyes of the people who needed to wake up against the religious and political leaders (Mt 6, 34). He reconciled human beings and all creation with God (Lc. 15). The work of Jesus still needs to continue and to be made a reality in the world and in Nicaragua.
Our accompaniment with the Iglesia Mission Cristiana (the Christian Mission Church) in Nicaragua aims to fulfill the mandate of continuing the work of Jesus. The ancient Good News to the poor and oppressed of the world continues to be Good News to the Christian communities in this country today.
Ignacio Salinas serves Mision Cristiana de Nicaragua. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS, and your special gifts.