January 2007 Newsletter
On The Way
We are only a few days away from the return to Nicaragua. The list of things to do seems endless. Right now as we pause to celebrate the birth of Jesus it seems like being in the eye of the storm. I know it is going to get crazy the last few days as we pack up and get ready to go back. People ask if we are looking forward to getting back. I am looking forward to the time when the transition is over and I have my family settled into housing and some kind of “life” back in Nicaragua. As we pack up we don’t know how to feel. We see that the Lord has opened the doors in so many ways for us to return to Nicaragua. Still we are concerned about the effect that the move will have on our children and on our family in general. Personally we look forward to the opportunity to have our children grow up in a truly bilingual situation and develop new language skills while they are young. We also hope to adopt a Nicaraguan orphan into our family. For the ministry we also see that it is a good time for us to be there. There is a great need for a ministry that will train church leaders in solid Biblical principles of leadership and equip them with the tools they need for preaching and pastoral work. We are thankful for the chance to return and focus on setting up a leadership training institute to meet that need. Our prayer is that it could be a catalyst for church growth and new church planting. Opportunities for service in the remote Atlantic Coast region also invite. When I first went to Nicaragua in 1991 it was the realization that the Lord had given me skills that could meet needs. Little did I suspect that the work there would last so long or lead down so many avenues. I can honestly say the same is true as we return, the Lord has given us skills that can meet needs and so we go not knowing all the ways the Lord will lead.
I leave on 3 Jan and Ann and the kids will follow on 1 Feb. This will give me time to rent a house and buy a vehicle in preparation for their arrival. Our email address, will remain current. Mail can be addressed to:
Marcus and Ann Pearson
c/o Nancy Schulz
Harvester Christian Church
2950 Kings Crossing
St Charles, MO 63303
Marcus and Ann Pearson, January 2, 2007
The Miskitu Coast
The entire eastern third of Nicaragua is divided into two semi-autonomous regions. They are the tribal lands of the Miskitu, Mayagna, Sumo, Rama, and Caribe indigenous tribes. These tribes live in the hot and swampy lowlands that run from the mountainous highlands in the center of the country out to the Caribbean Sea. Traditionally they live by fishing, hunting and to a lesser degree by the planting of a few crops like corn and melons. The region was evangelized by German Moravian missionaries during the late 1800s and early 1900s leading to the establishment of many congregations throughout the area. The Moravian Church is in many ways similar to the Lutheran Church, although they separated from the Roman Catholic Church almost one hundred years prior. Today in the Atlantic coast the Moravian Church has a great respect among the population but its deeply conservative leadership struggles to help young people cope with the new pressures that bear on the communities today.
During the 1960’s and 70’s large American and Canadian timber and mining concerns extracted millions of dollars worth of forest products and gold. When they left as a result of the 1979 revolution the region fell back into relative isolation. The civil war years were hard times for tribes. Some suffered relatively little as their isolation in remote swampy redoubts made them inaccessible to mechanized government army and strategically irrelevant to the Contra guerrillas. Other tribesmen that lived closer to the major population centers suffered greatly. They were subject to conscription into the government army (Patriotic Voluntary Service). Many others were forced off their land by land grabbing officials of the FSLN government. Worse yet, many were massacred by the Government army. One of the worst of these events occurred near the ford at Leimus, near Waspam in 1983 when the army killed about 30 unarmed civilians including women, children and at least two local preachers. The Regan backed contras were not above killing civilians either, as the massacre of school teachers in the village of El Serrano proves.
As the war drew to a close and the 1991 constitution was formulated the Atlantic Coast tribes did gain an important legal right: The Constitution recognizes the right of the tribes to own land communally under their traditional form of tribal ownership. It. also recognizes the role of the tribal elders and judges as a sanctioned form of local government. Today the region is relatively peaceful. Timbering and mining bring in some employment though most inhabitants still make a subsistence living by fishing or farming. Some supplement their income with small herds of cattle. The Moravian Church is still very active in the area, though lack of pastors makes it difficult for the church to teach its members in their isolated villages. The region is the poorest in Nicaragua. In the Prinzapolka district, the average per capita income is $49 per year. Essentially it is not a monetary economy; that is goods are bartered within the community instead of being bought and sold. Still lack of access to education and health care makes life very hard. The last few years has seen a resurgence of tribal witchcraft and other occult manifestations including outbreaks of “Grisi Sicnes” which provokes convulsions. These outbreaks became so widespread two years ago that many churches send delegations to the area to pray that the Lord would intervene. The manifestations subsided but the local witch doctors still have a great influence on Satan’s behalf. In October 2005 I was in Waspam and Robinson Smith, one of the local leaders who is a devout Christian sent word upriver that a recent crop failure was a punishment from God for their toleration of sexual promiscuity and witchcraft. They had proclaimed a fast in repentance. (he didn’t say anything about stopping fooling around or running the brujos out of town!) Robinson, like many has an English sounding name since the area was a British protectorate during the 1800’s. He has worked for me in the past as a guide. His knowledge of the forest and the treacherous rapids on the rivers is truly astounding.
The most troubling development in the region is the growth of the drug trade. The drug runners from South America use the area as a transit station on the way to the United States. Its vast swamps and miles of inhabited coastline make it an ideal stopover for drug runners. When these smugglers are chased on the sea by the authorities they toss the bales of cocaine into to water. The tides bring them up onto the beach where the men in the villages find them and sell them. The Miskitu do not use the cocaine so much as just re sell it to dealers locally who then send it on the capitol or the USA. One kilo nets a tribesman $us5000 in cash, no questions asked. They call it White Lobster, partly in sarcasm due to a government moratorium on lobster trapping. The lure of this easy money corrupts to young men by stifling any initiative to work hard or get an education. Unfortunately this has even crept into the local churches. In many sea coast villages one sees large well built concrete church buildings, modern sound systems and generators. How does a poor fishing village get enough offerings to afford this? “Blessings from God”.
We have been working in the area for the last three years; we travel to the villages and show the Jesus Film in the local language. We have also distributed Bibles and relief supplies. The area is difficult to reach even for us but we feel that the Lord is opening doors with the leaders of several communities. When we return to Nicaragua we would like to continue to follow up on our contacts and plan further projects. Some of the ideas on our heart are bringing a medical team to the area, doing a training workshop for mid wives. We intend to continue to visit the region, showing the evangelist film, teaching and distributing Bibles. Amid all the problems that afflict the area we pray that the Lord will open doors of service for us and that He would bring a revival to the area.
Marcus Pearson, Dec 2006