Let me set this up properly. I want to give you some background so you understand how truly exciting the finish of this story is to me.
The church building in Reparto San Juan is as I have told you before, not much more than plastic chairs and a podium. Cesar, Julia, and Santos are three of the leaders in the church and have been working very diligently with me to grow both spiritually and in numbers. I think most of you remember me mentioning them before.
Secondly, one of the main goals of most missionaries is or at least in my mind should be, to train and develop leadership for the ongoing life of the church. I am not discounting evangelism, humanitarian efforts, and other such activities. But when it comes to church life. One of you goals should be to prepare the next generation. You can’t allow people to be so totally reliant on you, as a missionary, that if something happens to you and you leave… they are in a manner then orphaned. I know this all too well with the events of the last six months. However, it is difficult because in a poverty stricken area, the greatest contribution a foreign missionary can often give is financial. And that is also the most difficult hurdle to overcome.
So we all know about my recent illness and then the untimely loss of my brother, Mike. So effectively for the past 6 months I have been in country and hard at it for about 30 days since March. Más o menos … as we say here. More or less in English. When I came back from my quick trip to Indianapolis and O’Fallon, the folks at the churches and all my students, of course, were amazingly gracious and kind to me.
But within a few minutes of arriving at the congregation in Reparto San Juan, I had noticed that the roof had been damaged in one of the storms I missed. I asked about it and my friend Santos told me that they were repairing it when they could afford it. He then asked if I could help. I said that my money was tied up in feeding programs and printing costs for the classes and all the other things that come up in ministry. But I said that I would put out a plea through my blog and Facebook site. I also said that I couldn’t promise them anything.
DON’T STOP READING NOW… THIS IS NOT THAT PLEA!!!
Then one of the others asked how much would it be. I said that I had a relationship with one of the hardware/lumber yards and I would find out for them. Ferretería La Fe is a great little place and the owner always gives me discounts. So we spec’d out the building, I went to the store and the owner gave me a price. I brought the budget back to the leadership and saw how little it was. Compared to U.S. construction costs … it is nothing.
The whole time I was silently thinking… maybe if I cut a corner here or there, I might be able to pull this off. But then I said, ok… let’s pray about it. We did and afterward one of the leaders said… “we can do this!”
And they did!
They gathered up all of the pennies and cordobas that they could muster, they gave it to me, and asked me to arrange the purchase. While they were a little short, I was able to cover the extra… it was less than a lunch out for me. But for the most part… they fixed their own roof. I don’t know if I can express how cool that is! I don’t know if we can ever understand how sacrificial that gift was. How many hours of sweat under a hot Nicaraguan sun did it take to earn that money. How much faith did it take to know God would bless them for their sacrifices and effort. As my uncle Wally would say, “if that don’t fire you up…then your wood is wet.”
Now, we have 2 other churches to get to that level, but I wanted you to know how gratified you should feel about being a part of growing a church in Nicaragua. We still have a lot of work to do, but I wanted you know that we are making a kingdom difference here. I say it often…but I couldn’t be here without you. If you are part of this ministry already… thank you. If you want to be a part of reaching Nicaragua with the love of Christ one person at a time… then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sunday night… be looking forward to a video on YouTube that I will post here and share on Facebook. I want to show you the construction and some of the service.
Dios los bendiga, Jeff