October 2006 Newsletter from Nicaragua
I just returned from two weeks in Nicaragua. It was good to spend time with the project directors and lay plans for next year. The Christian Elementary School in Tipitapa is going to begin offering classes in the afternoon next year. We had cut back to only morning classes a couple of years ago but now the school has grown to the point that the only way to grow is to offer classes in the afternoons. In Nicaragua children only go to school half a day so many schools have two complete sets of students, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Our morning session is completely full with just over 300 children and I expect that we will register at least 100 for the afternoon in 2007. The population out on the edges of Tipitapa continues to grow rapidly due to the opening of new garment factories in that area. People from the rural areas migrate to the town looking for work in the factories. The pay is low and it is piecework with no health or retirement benefits. Still it is seen as better than trying to live by agriculture in the countryside. Over the years we have seen that education is the best help we can offer in Jesus name. The work in the garment factories is low paying and offers little opportunity for advancement but it is a steady wage for many adults with families. The sad reality for a majority of young adults is lack of skills and education that would allow them to find higher paid employment. We are pleased that the Lord has allowed us to serve the community with quality elementary education since 1999. We recently received word that the Wal Mart Foundation has donated $1500 to the work designated for school supplies for the poorest children that attend the school. Thank you Wal Mart as well as so many others who contribute to the school. The students at the Living Word school in St Charles County are also contributing to the work of the school. They are raising money for high school tuition for two of the children who will graduate from sixth grade in our school and can now attend a local Christian High School operated by an Assembly of God church. As a condition of this scholarship the two young ladies will have to serve as teachers aids a few hours a week in the elementary school.
COUNTDOWN TO RETURN
We are making plans to return to Nicaragua next year. I will leave on the third of January and Ann and the children will join me in the first week of February. This will give me a chance to find housing and a vehicle. Relocating close to the city of Granada, we will base the Leadership training center. The center will use the property of the church in Granada to begin with although we hope that in the future it will have a facility of its own. The list of things to do to prepare for the move seems endless packing, storing, etc. but I guess you have to take it one thing at a time.
New President in Nicaragua
Nicaragua just completed a presidential election. The candidate for the Sandinista Party(FSLN or Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional), Daniel Ortega, has won the election. Some remember the 80’s when the Sandinista Party, directed by Daniel, seized countless properties and businesses owned by Americans and with the help of the now defunct Soviet Union tried to set up a Marxist country in Nicaragua. Now that he is going to return to power many have asked me what that will mean for the church in Nicaragua. Well, first of all, even at the height of Sandinista influence in the 80’s there was no censure of churches, missionaries, or humanitarian work of any kind from any country, even the USA. Back then the Sandinista party had to trumpet hard line communist rhetoric to continue to receive support from the USSR and Cuba. But if you do some study of the founders of the Sandinista Party and talk to some of the “old timers” like I have who were Sandinistas when it was an illegal underground movement in the 70’s trying to topple the brutal US backed Somoza dictatorship and you realize that at its core the FSLN isn’t any more left leaning than lets say the Labor Party in the UK. Certainly they are not a bunch of atheistic zealots like the North Koreans.
Daniel Ortega himself is simply a political opportunist. He spent most of the revolution of the 70’s in jail in Costa Rica. He returned and wormed his way to the front of the party with the help of his smarter brother Humberto who learned to stay behind the scenes and become fantastically wealthy as the head of the Army. As a political opportunist Daniel will not alienate foreign investors since a functioning country produces wealth which can be skimmed off by the government. There is no USSR(if you are too young to remember the USSR watch some old James Bond Movies) to finance him this time around, Nicaragua just signed a free trade agreement with the US so powerful business interests in Nicaragua will ameliorate any radical policy changes that would make investors uneasy. Like Deepthroat said, “follow the money”. Another stabilizing factor is the majority in the parliament of the opposition party the PLC(Partido Liberal Constitucionalista). The PLC has been divided during the current presidency but with a FSLN president will certainly rally them as an effective opposition. Most of all, the evangelical churches in Nicargua have become heavily identified in the last ten years with humanitarian work of starting schools and doing medical work. This work has given churches a tremendous street cred with the average Nicaraguan, which any political opportunist would have to be almost suicidal to ignore.
In my opinion, the most dangerous problems that the work of the Lord will face in the next few years is the rising influence of quasi Christian cults. There are some very aggressive sects in Nicaragua right now preaching a radical prosperity gospel that is extremely attractive to poor and poorly educated men and women. These cults, the largest of which is the “Pare de Sufrir” or Stop Suffering Church. They are well financed from their home in Brazil are gaining a tremendous following promising healing, exorcism, success in love or business, oh and of course the more generous the offering the faster all this comes from God to you. Paul and Jesus both warned of false teaching creeping into the churches and causeing many to stumble. Seeing the popularity of these cults and hearing the stories of how humble Christian brothers are ripped off by these con artists disturbs me more than any headline in the newspaper. In many ways it brings us back to the reason for starting a leadership training institute, the need for solid teaching of the Bible in a context that pushes new leaders to engage society.
Overall, it has been thrilling to look back over the last 15 years of Nicaraguan history and see how the evangelical churches have had a vital, if unrecognized role, in the reconstruction of Nicaragua after civil war of the 80’s. I have no doubt that in this present pending change of government the Lord is even now working to facilitate the next phase of his Kingdom’s Work.
The Transition: the whole process of shutting down our life in the USA and setting up in Nicaragua can be a bit overwhelming. Thousands of details have to be taken care of as with any long distance move, packing storing, selling , saying goodbye. Pray that we will recognize the Lord’s provision for all of these things. The reverse in true in Nicaragua, there we are unpacking stored items, renting a house, looking for property, registering Will in school, renewing residency for Ann and the children, buying a vehicle…..
The John Deere 4400 combine that we shipped to Nicaragua is out of customs and mostly re assembled, it still might catch this seasons rice harvest
Yours in Christ,
Marcus and Ann Pearson
4 Wilber Dr
St Charles, MO 63304
636 794 5168