Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua Environmental Projects
The Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua began in the 1960s as a movement of ministry to prisoners, calling itself in those years “The Christian Mission in the Jails.” Its founders were Reverend Marcelino Dávila Castillo who was a pastor in the Assemblies of God, and Reverend Antonio Martinez who first belonged to the Church of the Nazarene. The first church was founded in the Acahualinca neighborhood of Managua in 1959. The second church was founded in Barrio José Dolores Estrada in 1972. The churches of the Christian Mission are part of the Pentecostal movement in Latin America.
The Convention Association of Christian Mission Churches obtained its official recognition on October 19th, 1983. Today, the Christian Mission consists of 51 churches located in every region of Nicaragua. The current president is Reverend Rolando Eugenio Boniche, who began his three-year term as president in March of 2011. The Christian Mission Church has been marked since its beginning as a church committed to addressing social problems and very open to relationships with other churches.
Throughout its history, the Association has participated in the founding of various Christian organizations at the national level, with the goal of strengthening ecumenical relationships and supporting the development of churches and their communities. These organizations include: CEPAD (Evangelical Council for Aid and Development), CIEETS (Interchurch Center of Theological and Social Studies), and UENIC (Evangelical University of Nicaragua). The Christian Mission Church also is a member of CLAI (the Latin American Council of Churches) and has maintained relationships of exchange and sister/brotherhood with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Brethren, the United Church of Christ, and with the Christian Pentecostal Church of Cuba. It has been an important partner church with Global Ministries for many years.
The Christian Mission Church has as its mission the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, proclaimed by Jesus and the first Christians in the power of the Holy Spirit. This preaching is done in words and deeds so that the gospel may be seen and heard through the testimony of the church, and its commitments to the values of the Kingdom of God: justice, solidarity, equality, and respect for diversity. The vision of the Christian Mission Church is to encourage and support social transformation, incarnating the gospel as good news for the most vulnerable sectors of society: the poor, the sick, women, children, and people excluded from our socio-economic systems.
Since its inception, La Misión Cristiana has sought to foster social justice in the communities it serves. It currently is at work on a number of educational and development projects that serve its member churches and their communities.
Projects of the National Church
The church owns a medium-sized farm in the Northern region of Nicaragua (beyond the town of Waslala), which they are preparing to use as a dairy farm. There are many dairy farms in this region and the farm is right on the main road where a company that buys the milk does regular milk pick-ups. They have improved the caretaker’s house, built a milking gallery (with the help of churches from the South Idaho region of the Disciples of Christ), installed electricity and a water system that draws from a spring on the property, and are growing corn and cacao, as well as renting plots to small farmers. The project still needs to put in fencing and build a corral before they will be ready to purchase cows, and are looking to plant more crops in the future.
Reverend Rolando Boniche has said that in the churches in the north (a rural and poor region) when they need funds to build a church or do some other project, they plant a crop and use the proceeds from the harvest. A lifelong city dweller, he is adopting this model to raise needed funds for the national church and its many wonderful projects.
Centro Emmanuel is the hospitality center for visiting groups. It is also a meeting facility and training center for the church. Representatives of local churches from all over the country gather there for their annual assembly. It also is the space for educational events, talks by invited speakers, revivals, and youth events throughout the year. A new church start is nesting there as well.
The Emmanuel Center is also a potential source of income for the church, especially as the facilities are improved to make it more attractive for event rentals. The church has invested time, talent, and treasure in developing the center and last year a visiting group from Texas helped in the construction of the caretaker’s house.
The church began a project to improve food security for church and community members in the Western region of Nicaragua where decades-old deforestation has worsened droughts, flooding, and the resultant loss of crops. The first step was establishing seed banks which loan seeds to farmers with small plots and sharecroppers, many of whom would not have capital to plant otherwise. These farmers repay 125 percent of the seeds when they harvest, growing the banks to benefit more and more families. The second stage was giving seeds for family gardens (tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, onions, and peppers) and small orange and mango trees. These will help first with family nutrition, and (especially the fruit trees) potentially provide a source of income.
A third phase that has grown out of these efforts is the installation of biodigesters, a relatively inexpensive technology that produces methane gas for cooking from cow manure. Most families in the region are spending much time or money obtaining firewood for cooking in an already deforested area. In addition, the effect of cooking all day in a closed kitchen on an open fire is extremely harmful to women’s health. The first stove, installed as a pilot project in a parsonage, will pay for itself in less than a year; afterward the church no longer has to buy firewood, freeing up significant funds for ministry.
In August 2011, a team of facilitators began teaching the courses on theology as part of the Ministerial Formation program of the Christian Mission Church. It is planned as a two-year program (with a slightly different timetable in each region) to deepen the understanding that pastors and lay leaders have of the church’s specific theology, history, and manner of doing ministry. The goal is to form leaders spiritually and personally, as well as imparting knowledge and developing practical skills for ministry. The program aims to use popular education as its teaching model, honoring the knowledge and experience that leaders bring to the encounters, as well as to be accessible to students with a variety of levels of formal education.
Environmental Education/Tree Planting
Environmental education, including climate change and strategies for growing food (and preparing it) in harmony with nature, has been an integral part of the food security project and is also a topic in the program on ministerial formation. The Christian Mission Church continues to look for more ways to educate its members, especially young people, about the importance of being good stewards of creation and with practical strategies for doing so (including reforestation).
Formation and Training
Leadership development, which includes equipping leaders with skills and knowledge in a wide variety of areas, is a current focus for the church. The church is especially interested in developing projects to work with children and youth in the congregations and in training church leaders in accounting, record-keeping, strategic planning, etc.
Projects of Local Churches
Several of the individual local churches run educational programs to benefit their specific communities.
Afterschool Programs & Schools — In Managua, both the First Church in Acahualinca and the Seventh Church in Reparto Schick run after-school programs for neighborhood children. These programs emphasize development in four areas: socio-emotional, spiritual, physical, and cognitive. Both programs each serve over 100 neighborhood youth by providing a safe space to come and learn and spend time with other children. Both programs are extremely popular and are currently limited in enrollment by the small size of the church buildings.
The Marcelino Davila Educational Center is run by the Second Church in Barrio Jose Dolores Estrada and has students from Pre-K through 6th grade. English classes are part of the curriculum, and native English-speaking guests are a big hit. The Third Church in Reparto Schick also houses a public school that serves grades 1-3.
The Sixth church in Tisma, a small municipality less than an hour from Managua, has a preschool and a carpentry workshop where they train young people from the community.
In addition, each church has worship services throughout the week, Christian education for children and adults, and a number of active ministries including cultural groups and pastoral work with families and youth.
Below are ways which your gifts to the Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua may be used:
- $25 will provide transportation to a rural church for one theology teacher.
- $50 will purchase fruit trees for ten church families.
- $100 will help cover printing costs for one unit of the theological education project.
- $200 will purchase materials to build one biodigester benefiting a church family.
- $500 will help to complete the construction of facilities at the Centro Emmanuel.
- $1,200 will purchase one dairy cow for the Waslala dairy farm.
- $2,000 will purchase 15 grain silos to help three church communities begin a seed bank project to provide food security to small farmers.
- $5,000 will help the First Church add classroom space so it can accept more children into its afterschool program.
Update: January 2018
In 2017, significant progress was made in the food security project. This initiative, developed in communities of the country’s “dry corridor,” continues to empower families through the implementation of appropriate and environmentally friendly technologies and awareness-raising and training processes.
Some of the most important actions carried out during this time were:
- Delivery of ten ecological or improved kitchens (also called eco-kitchens) to families who find it difficult to obtain firewood in their communities. This delivery was carried out in coordination with EOS, the organization in charge of developing this type of technology. With these kitchens, families save up to 70% of the wood they consume with the use of the traditional stove. In addition, the technique allows a significant reduction in the emission of smoke, impacting the health of families positively.
- Training with families to raise awareness of the use of environmentally friendly technologies. In addition to knowing how eco-kitchens work, families learned about the benefits and importance of changing some practices and customs that damage the environment and human health.
- Technical visits to four communities (San Pedro, Tamarindo, La Leonera and El Valle) to learn about water needs for long periods of drought. Families expressed their need for water for domestic and agricultural work. As a result of the technical visits, it was agreed to build four water reservoirs that would benefit a total of 25 families.
Christian Mission thanks the pastors and leaders of our churches in the Western region for their participation and collaboration in each of the activities carried out. Likewise, the sister churches through Global Ministries of the United Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ.
Update: September 2020
Recently, one focus of the Christian Mission Church has been its efforts towards environmental protection and education. This work includes confronting climate change, facilitating workshops on sustainable agriculture techniques, and educating community members about the importance of being environmental stewards. The church equips individuals with strategies and tactics to make being an environmental steward a reality.
Over the past year, The Christian Mission Church continued its food and nutrition security program. One of the most prominent aspects of this project is the physical construction and maintenance of seed banks across Nicaragua. With these seed banks, basic food can be guaranteed to many communities even during periods of drought. In addition to the seed banks, the Christian Mission provided over 300 families across Nicaragua with maize and sorghum seeds.
As the effects of climate change continue, and droughts and weather events become more common, the environmental protection work of the Christian Mission Church is more important than ever. In the future, the Christian Mission hopes to continue the implementation of sustainable agricultural techniques, enhance local natural resource conservation, and provide more opportunities for education.
The Christian Mission Church in Nicaragua is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nicaragua. Churches are meeting virtually to adhere to distancing guidelines. They also are distributing masks and care for vulnerable families in communities across Nicaragua.
Update: November 2020
Since 2011 the Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua has accomplished much through the Diary Farm project. In the caretakers house, lighting and electricity has been installed, and three beds have been built. A water trough was built for the cattle along with fences and enclosures including a corral and improvements to the milking gallery. A drinking water well and latrine were installed on the farm, and over 400 trees were planted to help create a natural fence line as well. The dairy project began with 10 female cows and one male cow. Currently, as of August 2020, there were 44 cows on the farm.
Project staff visit the farm every two months to check in on the project, including questions on whether any medicine might need to be purchased for the livestock, where and when pasture grass might need to be planted, and what fences might need mending. Currently, the farm has several upcoming priorities for maintenance tasks, such as expanding the corral, milking galleries, and enclosures to accommodate the growing number of cattle.
Currently, the church is selling the milk that is being produced at the farm and this helps the church to meet the needs of the farm. The farm also benefits the community by renting land on the farm to local community members for substance farming at very low rates.
Update: July 2021
Recently, the Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua opened two new seed banks, which are collectively managed store houses for seeds of different crops. These seed banks are shared among families in the communities of Las Barandas and Aguas Calientes in northern Nicaragua to provide a fresh and reliable food source. These two new seed banks already have provided seeds to thirty-two families, supporting substance farming in the region. Additionally, a total of six new seed silos were constructed, with four silos dedicated to supporting the two new seed banks, and the remaining two supplementing a seed bank in the community of Rosa Grande.
The Christian Mission Church plans to open more seed banks in the northern region of the country and offer training workshops to help farmers combat the effects of climate change. Farmers report that the effects of climate change are already threatening crops and seed harvests, with a particularly low-yield harvest last year.
Seed banks are a great opportunity to ensure food security and nutrition for families. Orlando from Aguas Calientes shared, “Before, we had to take out loans at very high interest rates in order to get seeds. One of the best parts of this project is that the seed bank is managed by us, the local beneficiaries, and we can guarantee that the quality will be good.”
Nelson from Las Barandas summed up the importance of the seed banks by saying, “Seed banks are guaranteeing that families will have food.”
Update: December 2022
The Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua began a project to improve food security for church and community members in the western region of Nicaragua where decades-old deforestation has worsened droughts, flooding, and the resultant loss of crops. The first phase was establishing seed banks that loaned seeds to farmers with small plots and sharecroppers. The second phase was giving seeds for family gardens and small orange and mango trees. A third phase that has grown out of these efforts is the installation of biodigesters, a relatively inexpensive technology that produces methane gas for cooking from cow manure.
In 2022, Christian Mission Church expanded its cattle gallery due to the growth in the number of animals. They could make necessary repairs to fences and paddocks to secure cattle. Between fruit trees and precious wood, they planted 250 new trees. Due to flooding, many farms lost crops and had little seed to harvest for future planting. These farmers utilized the seed bank to supplement their future crops. This reality reinforced the need for a seed bank in the community. Furthermore, Christian Mission opened another seed bank in El Jobo – expanding its reach and providing necessary seeds for farmers and families.
Christian Mission Church continues to strengthen and grow its seed bank ministry. It plans to host workshops about childcare, the environment, and climate change. These workshops would introduce new ways to plant and harvest crops, including stewarding natural resources well. They also have a goal of becoming a self-sustaining farm that can finance more programs and cover administrative expenses.
Vicente from the El Jobo community shared his appreciation for this project, “This seed bank that was implemented in our community is a great help. The seed saved for sowing cycles usually rises to very exorbitant prices in the markets around this time. Instead, we have the seed bank for the sowing cycle, and we can save on production inputs. Thanks to Global Ministries and Christian Mission for the support.”
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- 100% of your gift will be directed to Christian Mission Church of Nicaragua Environmental Projects
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