November 2005 Newsletter
I just returned from two weeks in Nicaragua supervising the work in progress there. This was the first trip back since our return to the US in July. During the stay in Nicaragua I met with the directors of the Tipitapa school, street kids ministry in Managua and church leaders from Granada and Managua. Areas we covered included in general budgets and goals for next year.
At the Street Kids Ministry in Managua, Moises Rodriguez was installed as Christian Ed teacher and evangelist for the 90 families served by the project. He will do the Christian Education classes within the school curriculum and organize home Bible studies and pastoral work in the barrios where the families live. Danira Sanchez is completing her first full year as director of the project. She is doing a good job of keeping on budget and on track with the goals we have set. She has a tough job. The Street Kids Ministry provides elementary education, hot lunches, and vocational training for 90 of the poorest children from the surrounding barrios. She also has to maintain a good relationship with the leadership of the Managua church where the majority of the families attend. The relationship with the church is critical as we all agree that benevolence work is most effective within the context of a local church community.
I had the opportunity to go the far north border of Nicaragua to a Miskitu tribal area called Waspam. One of the large aluminum boats that we built years ago with the vocational training program is there but not being used. The Christian organization that owns it has expressed willingness to allow it to be used on the Prinzapolka River, where for the last year we been visiting and developing contacts for futures ministry. Transportation on the river has been an obstacle for reaching the communities in that area. The boat may be a piece of the puzzle for the future of work there. The area is so isolated that obviously we cant get out there very much but hopefully we can work to encourage the Christians that are out there already. Accion Medica Cristiana, an interdenominational Christian medical work has been very accommodating to us by lending out their small boat and motor for our evangelistic trips along the Prinzapolka River. If we are able to bring the large aluminum boat from Waspam to Prinzapolka, Accion Medica will also be able to use it for their medical and educational work.
While I was in Waspam news came up river of several communities that had lost crops due to an outbreak of rats and locusts. The tribes traditionally plant corn, rice, and yucca along the riverbanks or in low lying areas where the crops are very susceptible to any kind of infestation. This crop loss was severe enough that the World Food Program was bringing relief supplies to ward off starvation. One of the Christian leaders said that his village was going to observe a two day fast asking forgiveness from the Lord. They were convicted that the crop failure was a punishment for tolerance of sin in their community. It is a very humbling experience to be in the presence of Christians who live so simple and precarious a life. Their only explanation for the major events in life is the will of God. Unfortunately their remoteness makes it difficult for them to be grounded in solid teaching of the Word. They are easily led astray by traditional tribal practices that border on the occult. The best activities we can be involved with right now are the radio broadcasts of the New Testament and showing of the Jesus film in the local language.
The elementary school in Tipitapa is winding down its academic year too. This year is a record both for enrollment (277 students) and retention (95%). There is a possibility that the school will benefit from a grant next year from the United Nations administered through the local government. Many Roman Catholic schools receive this aid but it is difficult for a protestant church school to get approved. The grant would allow us to give more of the poorest children full scholarships to attend school. For next year we hope to be able to upgrade the computer lab at the school. The upgrades will allow more access for the children who receive some basic computer training as part of the school curriculum. It will also allow the lab to be used for basic computer education for adults. Reaching out to the community with a very basic computer skills course has been an idea for a long time, and new with the new director of the school keenly interested in seeing it happen we are actively seeking donations of working Pentium 3 desktop computers.
The church in Granada reports two more baptisms and has been able administer the Children’s Outreach Ministry’s new school lunch program successfully so far. Since the church is located in such a poor area we have tried to make concern for the poor an essential part the body life from the beginning. The man in charge of this outreach, Francisco Garcia is young and so we have been adding elements of the program as funding becomes available and also as he proves his ability to lead. We have had good results in the past “growing” a project a little at a time, it’s a practical application of the Bible principle that one who is proven faithful with little can also the entrusted with much.
The leaders of the Granada church have accepted the challenge to begin groundwork for a new church plant in the nearby city of Nandaime. It is encouraging to see that they are willing to keep a focus outward. As the congregation nears three years in existence, now with its own meeting place there is a real danger that they will turn inward and lose vision for how God can use them. Now that I think of it, that is a danger for any church at any age!
I am planning to return to Nicaragua in January for about three weeks. This should allow time for a trip to the tribal area on the Prinzapolka River. Also the school year in Nicaragua begins the last week of January and it is helpful to be around in case the project directors have problems hiring or firing teachers or other beginning of year issues.
We are in the process of buying a house in St Charles, Missouri. I am picking up some construction work to pay the bills. Ann and the kids are all doing fine. The kids love to play with their cousins. William turned 4 this month and Amelia turned 2 in September. They grow up fast.
As you all know we returned from Nicaragua in August due in part to Ann’s father being diagnosed with cancer and our feeling that we needed to be closer to family during the time of treatments. Honestly we also have come to see that we really needed a break from living in Nicaragua. We see the Lord’s hand at work specifically in that the churches and projects are well administered by the Nicaraguans in charge. Therefore it seemed wise for us to return to the US for an indefinite period of time assured that the ministries would continue to meet needs without our full time presence on the field.
Next year Ann and I will no longer draw any salary from funding raised for the work in Nicaragua. We will continue to request funds from present and potential supporters to pay for the ongoing projects in Nicaragua. If funding is available we will request reimbursement for travel and other expenses directly related to the work. The leadership of the Harvester Christian Church has agreed to continue to receive funds designated for the work in Nicaragua and make 100% of it available for the work there. I will have committed to oversee the use of these funds and account to Harvester for their use, as we have done in the past. I will travel to Nicaragua as often as it is necessary to ensure that the money is being spent according to budgets set with the project directors and preachers. There follows a list of ongoing projects that we have committed to seek funding for 2006. We would ask that present supporters consider continuing to contribute to the work in Nicaragua.
- Christian Elementary School in Tipitapa - $800/mo, 277 students
- Street Kids Ministry in Managua - $275/mo (90 children, primary education, hot lunch, vocational training and pastoral care) note: major funding for this program comes from Churches of Christ in Missouri, Texas and Arizona, we commit funds for pastoral care and administrative expenses to supplement. Pastoral Care and evangelistic outreach is done in coordination with the eldership of the Managua Christian Church
- At Risk Children’s Outreach in Granada $550/mo 30 children, primary education, lunch, enrichment activities and pastoral care in coordination with the Granada Christian Church.
- Granada Church Planting Team - $300/mo, this team will begin work on new church plant in nearby Nandaime in 06.
- Scholarships for 4 Nicaraguan students at Central Mexico Bible College $275
Most of the funding goes to projects that reach out with educational and nutritional help to some of the poorest children in Nicaragua. They will need outside support for the foreseeable future. We are confident presenting these opportunities to present and prospective supporters knowing that they are meeting needs in the context of local Christian communities. The eldership of the Harvester Christian Church has given us the opportunity to work as volunteers overseeing these works. The decision is a wise means to capitalize on the years we have spent on the field and the investment that Harvester and others have made there. We hope that you all will continue to be involved with the work in Nicaragua as the Lord leads. We thank those like yourselves that have been so faithful in supporting through the years.
Ann and I are considering returning to Nicaragua in the first quarter of 2007 to take on a two year commitment specifically for new church planting. We will say much more about this in upcoming months, but for now we just want to say that the needs are still great there and we see that the Lord could use us if it is his will.
Marcus and Ann Pearson