It’s been a week since we left for Nicaragua. And still, I can see the smiles on the faces of children, the smoking volcano, the tile roofs and the cardboard/plastic shacks that flashed by the bus windows as we drove. As I reflect, I wanted to share some of my journal entries over the next couple weeks…these are my notes from Nicaragua…
June 28, 15 – Managua, Nicaragua
This morning we attended Verbo Inglesia Christian Church which is the Nicaraguan equivalent of a mega-church. The singing was loud with fast tempos and lots of clapping and dancing. The worship leader started the service by quoting pieces of scripture as the band played. My guess is that we sang non-stop for a good 45-60 minutes! By the end of the singing, he was drenched with sweat. Next, they shared the life of the church complete with new people (us!) standing, video announcements and then dedication and prayer for the new little “ninos” of the church.
The tech team had run out of wireless units for translation so we didn’t understand the message. However, they did put the scriptures on the screen so our team was scrambling to find the passages in our own English bibles as the preacher kept talking. We got some of what he was saying through piecing the scriptures together.
Afterwords our FH coordinator, Mayela (on the left of our group picture above), told us that he was exhorting the people to resist the devil who wants to destroy our intimacy with God. You could sense everyone in the group thinking, “OHHHHHHHHHH! That makes sense now…”
The great part for me as a worship leader was the end of the service. The pastor threw their leader and band a curve ball when he asked them to sing a different song than planned. He had invited the congregation up front for a prayer time and then started whispering something to the worship leader and drummer. I could tell something was going down! They had a mini-conference and then they launched into “Our God” in Spanish. It was great to see them pull together as a team and lead God’s people. Our team instantly knew the song and sang in English.
Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power,
Our God! Our God!
Throughout the service, I was struck by how big the Kingdom of God is across the world! Here we were singing the same song in different languages…
“This is what Heaven will be like,” I thought. I looked over at my family and the rest of our team and started praying that God would grab our hearts and imaginations to see what God wants us to see this week.
After church, we took a short tour of “old Managua” which is the part of the city that survived after a large earth quake in 1972. We started at a round, painted, concrete pavilion. The artwork around the top was a series of sculptures telling the basic history of Nicaragua. It started with the indigenous, first people who met the Spanish conquistadors. The Spanish then enslaved the first people and took the land. Then a series of dictators (including an American) took over the country and took the country’s wealth until the Sandinistas kicked out the last dictator, Samosa. Nicaragua still has a wealthy 10% or so that lives off the work of the rest of the people. And that’s no different than many other parts of the world.
As we walked I thought to myself, “This is what happens when there are broken relationships. Broken relationships with God, with creation and with each other. When we don’t love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, this is what happens.”
But I also realized that what we had sung earlier in the day was also true.
Our God IS greater.
Our God IS stronger.
Our God IS a healer with awesome power.
So even when things seem dark and unjust, God is here…in Nicaragua.