March 2006 Newsletter

Dear Friends, Sounds like I missed the warmest January in history here in St Louis while in Nicaragua. We returned on 8 Feb just in time for some cold temperatures. Ann and Will had come to Nicaragua on 31 Jan to be present for the wedding of Valeria Lopez and Jacobo Sanchez. It was really good to see them again and all the nicas were glad to be able to say hola too. Amelia had stayed behind in Miami with Annís sister Mary and it sounds like she did just fine.

As promised here are some concrete ideas for our return to Nicaragua. We hope to return to the field in Jan 2007 to allow William to start the school year there. We will most probably rent a house in the city of Granada as that places us close to some of the projects and gives us options for school.

The main focus for this new phase of work will be leadership training. We have tried to reflect on the last several years of work in Nicaragua and see what has been the most and least effective. New churches are springing up and the established churches are facing new challenges. The need for leaders, both men and women, who have core knowledge of the Bible and some preparation in pastoral ministry, is critical for the health and growth of the work. This proposed Christian Leadership Academy will provide men and women with resources and opportunities to develop their spiritual gifts, always with the vision of preparing them to move into leadership roles in the existing churches or to form teams of new church planters.

The Academy program will contain the following elements:

  • In-depth study of the Bible with emphasis on both content and interpretation/application principles.
  • Training in strategic planning for church planting and for growth in existing churches
  • Internships within existing churches and ministries
  • Survey work for new church planting

Adjunct to the academyís activities will be a small business incubator. The fact is that most preachers in Nicaragua must supplement their income in some way at least for the first few years that a church is in existence. In Granada, for instance the mission has helped the evangelist in charge, Luis Hernandez, install a small internet cafť and computer school. He is able to provide low cost computer training to the community and also rent internet time to help him support his family. In the rural community of Yolaina, the preacher there, Donal Lopez has been able to get seed money from an Irish organization to start a small hog farm. The small operation has helped him stabilize his income a great deal. Obviously the goal of any congregation is to grow to a level of economic stability and spiritual maturity that it can maintain a pastor by its tithes and offerings. (1 Timothy 5:17). The reality is that in many poor communities, pa stors and evangelists must work at a trade or business for some or all of their income. Strategic planning for the medium term support of church planters is critical for new church starts. Our hope is that the combination of a leadership training academy and small business incubator will allow us to concentrate the lessons learned over the past several years of ministry in Nicaragua and use them to equip others to use their spiritual gifts in service. More details will follow in the coming months.

We received word this week that the donation of computers that was shipped in December was released from customs without undue delay. This is a big praise as the computers were badly needed by the three Christian schools that are affiliate d with the churches in Nicaragua. All three have computer labs that allow the children some exposure to the basics of computer operation, a skill that becomes increasingly critical even in Nicaragua.

There are enough machines that we are assigning some to a group of evangelists that have a small new church in the city of Leon. I visited them for the first time in January with Mike Merold for a leadership training session and was impressed with the group there.

I will return to Nicaragua in late June to lea d a trip from Greensburg Indiana. Josh Wolford from the church there is putting together a group to come and build a Sunday School classroom and bathroom with the members of the church in Granada. After they leave a group from the Harvester Christian Church is coming. They will do an evangelistic trip to the remote Atlantic coast with the goal of showing the Jesus Film in Miskitu, the local tribal language. I have made the trip several times and it is always a challenge. This will be the first time that we have brought a group out that far. Perry Gabbard is training hard for his marathon run to benefit the School in Tipitpa. Ann says that I should offer to shave my head for some undisclosed amount of donation for the school b ut I think that I would rather run a Marathon.

We would ask you all to pray about our preparation to return to Nicaragua. Both Ann and I were single when we went to Nicaragua to work and family, house and kids just came along in the Lordís time. Now to think of relocating as a family seems very intimidating. However Ann and I are in agreement that we should return to concentrate on the leadership training program outlined above. We place our willingness to go in the Lordís hands.

In Christ,
Marcus, Ann, William, and Amelia
#4 Wilbert Dr
St Charles, MO 63304
636 794 5168

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