January 2008 Newsletter
We ended last year with a training seminar for preachers up in Somotillo, and this year we’ve started with training seminars in Nueva Guinea and Managua. Dr. Mike Pabarcus and Mike McKinney spent a week teaching on “The Church Confronts Poverty”. I see that a large project for us here is to equip the church to confront the poverty that is a crude fact of life for many. Dr. Pabarcus is a professor of Old Testament at St Louis Christian College. He did a great job of linking Old Testament Law and prophecy to Jesus’ early ministry. The main point was that Jesus demonstrated concern for all mankind’s afflictions both spiritual and physical. Mike McKinney is the pastor of the Rich Hill Christian Church. He shared his experiences in ministry and of his walk with the Lord. Both men are old friends of mine and it was great to be with them.
The start of a new year is certainly a time to reflect on new beginnings, plans and pitfalls. In retrospect it seems in many ways that last year we lost a lot of time in dead ends in ministry. People we invested time in didn’t grow in the ways we had hoped and ideas that showed early promise just didn’t work out for one reason or another. I know that what seems to us a dead end is often a way for God to get us somewhere we wouldn’t have been otherwise. I also know that we need to have the patience with other people that we hope God has with us!
Valeria Lopez is acting as interim director for the school in Tipitapa while Alexandra Mendoza is on maternity leave. She and baby girl Maria Belen are doing great! This is a real answer to prayer as there were some concerns early in her pregnancy. There is a lot to do since we are offering high school for the first time, but Valeria has the school looking good and ready for the start of classes on 4 Feb. The school and other scholarship programs are benefiting this year from donated desks and school supplies that were shipped by the NICE Foundation. NICE is also helping us coordinate child sponsorships for children at the school. Funds collected underwrite the operation of the school. Since the beginning, parents have paid part of the cost of operating the school. Currently parents pay the equivalent of two days wages for an unskilled laborer each month for their child to attend school. This fee does not cover the true cost of operating the school but does give parents a stake in their children’s education. The rest of the operating costs comes from churches and individuals in the US. If you are interested in sponsoring a child please contact NICE Foundation at 618 288 6078.
Preparations are also underway for a new pre school in Granada. We have also been in a whirlwind there trying to prepare for the beginning of school on 11 February. We are doing some improvements to the classrooms to make them more presentable and secure. It has been nine years since we started a school from scratch. It seems like it was a lot easier back then! Or maybe I was younger. I have to do the cliff hanger newsletter with you all because at this point we still lack one approval from the government Ministry of Education for us to open the preschool. So I would ask that all pray for us to receive permission in time to open classes on 11 Feb. .
A group women volunteers in Managua are coordinating a scholarship program for fifteen children from the poorest houses in a barrio called “Sol de Libertad” or Sun of Liberty. We consider this a sort of pilot project where we help with school expenses but work with community volunteers for coordination, follow up, evangelism, activities and food preparation. We try to avoid the situation where our help replaces local initiative, rather we seek to use our support to stimulate Nicaraguan Christians to act compassionately in their communities.
As Mike Mckinney said after being here, “to help the poor you need to change with the times, or else soon you will be the one that needs help”. As a local church matures, the way mission organizations relate to it also needs to change. A parent relates differently to his teenage offspring than to a toddler. What would be good parenting for an infant would be a disaster for a sixth grader. Each stage of life has its challenges to overcome. Seems that mission work is often geared toward young churches, but we are still learning how to relate to maturing national churches. In a place were the local church needs to mature in stewardship, giving, and compassion we have to make sure our programs “move over” a little at a time to give the Nicaraguans opportunity to develop their faith by tithing and their compassion by giving.
The Saturday Bible Institute classes are scheduled to begin in late February. There is still much to be done on organization and planning but we are getting there. We are scheduled for a training seminar in Rodeo Grande on the Feb 23.
All in all I think we are off to a reasonably good start for the year. We would also ask for prayer for a new church that is forming in Ciudad Sandino. More about that next time.
Marcus and Ann Pearson