Editor's note: Nicaragua is on the brink of destruction. Government agents have attacked churches and homes, and some speculate this is the rise of fascism in the Central American country. Charisma News recently spoke with missionaries in the country to see how believers can serve this particular member of the body of Christ. The missionaries asked to remain anonymous for protection.
What is happening in your particular area?
Missionary 1: So many terrible and extremely sad things. Over the course of the past three months, food became scarce and over-priced; people have lost jobs and family businesses have shut down. Our town was completely closed off to the rest of Nicaragua for a time. There were huge attacks by paramilitary and police forces to take down the barricades surrounding our town, which killed close to 25 people in one day. The public hospital was refusing service to anyone injured who had at any point participated in protesting the government. Now, government forces are going house to house with lists of those who supposedly participated in protests and are arresting them and taking them places no one knows. Most young college-age people are not safe, regardless if they participated or not. Many are trying to escape to the border of Costa Rica, and most everyone is scared to leave their houses. This just skims the surface of all that has happened.
Missionary 2: We are from Masatepe, a town of about 20,000. At different times over the past several months, we have had significant barricades in town, have had occupation by paramilitary, shootings, killings, no food in the grocery store, no gas, and many stores/businesses have closed.
Missionary 3: We had barricades that were blocking the Pan-American Highway, so a bunch of paramilitaries came to my town Diriamba to remove and eliminate those barricades. It was a horrible experience, as they shot the guys who were protecting barricades.
How have you been affected?
Missionary 1: We have been affected financially since all mission teams have cancelled trips. We have been affected emotionally by the unpredictability of the situation and not always knowing if those we serve are safe or OK. We personally have had to evacuate our town and stay with friends in an area that is a little safer. I was stuck for a time in the States, not knowing if I would be able to return because of the violence in our town, and my husband could not get to the States because he does not have a visa or residency to travel.
Missionary 2: The team I work with has all been evacuated or needed to leave the organization. My husband chose not to leave so he could stay and be an encouragement to the people. While we were there, we lived in the daily tension of not knowing if we would be able to escape. I have been separated from my husband for six weeks and will soon be leaving our organization so that I can join him.
Missionary 3: I used to work with missionaries as a translator, but right now, missionaries cannot come anymore until the situation of this country get better, so I don't have a job.
How has your faith played a role in your reaction to the situation?
Missionary 1: It has honestly been all that we have had to cling to during this time. I am pregnant and about to give birth and have only had God's faithfulness to trust in during this time.
Missionary 2: My faith has been what has sustained me during this time. It has been very clear during this transition that I have had to be in a posture of hearing what God has for me in this—There are lots of thoughts and opinions, but God is the one whom we seek for wisdom and direction. My husband has been able to preach and teach during this time and provide spiritual encouragement.
How are you praying?
Missionary 1: We have constantly been praying for supernatural peace to come over this nation. For God to give supernatural wisdom to the leadership of the country. For justice for those who have lost their lives. For overwhelming comfort for the families who have lost loved ones.
Missionary 2: I am praying for God's will to be done in the situation, that God would lift up Christians as leaders and that God would protect the minds and hearts of the people.
Missionary 3: I'm praying for peace for Nicaragua and for provision. I'm praying for wisdom for the people who work in the government and praying for God's will for this country.
What are churches/missionaries doing to respond to the situation?
Missionary 1: Many missionaries left with their families for a time and are hoping to return. It has been amazing, though, to share with those missionaries who have decided to stay in the midst of the difficulty and suffering to encourage and love those whom they serve, saying, "I'm with you through the hills and the valleys." This has made such a beautiful difference in so many lives so that they understand fully the love of Christ. It's not conditional on circumstances.
Missionary 2: Churches are providing food, visiting and praying for people, continuing to meet as a form of encouragement.
Missionary 3: My church is planning to help the people who have been affected by the paramilitaries and destruction. They're planning to collect food and make bags of food with basic items like rice, beans and oil. Some missionaries have left because they're afraid they will be attacked by the paramilitaries, government or even the barricades. Some nonprofit organizations have no people coming down because people are afraid and think they are in danger.
What Scriptures have brought you peace right now?
Missionary 1: Philippians 4:6-7, John 16:33
Missionary 2: "Fear not, for I am with you" (see Isa. 41:10).
Missionary 3: Psalm 51:10-12; Ps. 91, 121
Why can faith make a difference here?
Missionary 1: Many times through this, the government has promised many things and has completely done the opposite, and the people have completely lost all trust in the government. We have also seen so many betrayed by family and friends and neighbors that they wholeheartedly trusted. As that has happened, we have seen that all the people have to put their faith and trust in is God, not their government, not their family or friends or neighbors.
Missionary 2: The Nicaraguan people in general can't depend on money, job, things and so forth. They depend on God and their faith and prayers. Their faith is what fights the fear and tension. My husband has found that those who don't have faith seem to struggle more in this situation.
Missionary 3: When God is work in your life through the process, He also gives you the answer to conquer that situation and He provides, as well, in many ways.
What has the Holy Spirit told you during this time?
Missionary 1: So many times I have awakened in the night, terrified about what could happen to me and my family and those we love and serve. During those times, the Holy Spirit has been so sweet and brought so much comfort and peace in the midst of the chaos. He has also reminded me that in the middle of His will is the best place to be, which doesn't guarantee safety, but it does guarantee being in His presence, which is the best place to be.
Missionary 2: His love for all people, that He is the ultimate Comforter, I don't need to be fearful because He cares for the situation. He is in all of this.
Missionary 3: He told me that I have to be patient. Even though the night is dark, the sun comes out soon!
What miracles have you seen?
Missionary 2: Our trip to the airport had open ways that we were told were completely closed; my husband was able to lead a young man to Christ this past week; we have been able to provide 1500 pounds of food in the past five weeks for people in need; my husband has had several experiences visiting people impromptu, and the people have been praying at the time for encouragement and food.
How can we pray for you?
Missionary 1: For wisdom and peace. For God's will to be done in this country. That people will turn back to God and He will make His name known in this nation like never before.
Missionary 2: For safety for my husband, for God to work among the Christians, for a change of leadership.
Missionary 3: Pray, of course, for our nation and provision for me and my family and job, as well.
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