I’ve been looking for a Nicaraguan Spanish church to get more involved in since this summer when my Spanish picked up. However, transportation is difficult for me, so it wasn’t until this month that a church arose. Literally. It’s five weeks old. It doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t have an altar. It doesn’t even have a door. It certainly doesn’t have a parking lot. Settle in, because it’s a long story, but I promise that it’s a good one.
A missionary couple was telling me a story about their summer. They are relatively new here and wanted to go to a market, but didn’t know enough to get there on their own, so they took a taxi. The taxi driver happened to be a gentleman who trains local pastors. Anyway, they got to be fast friends, and this summer when the couple had a mission’s team here, they took the group out to a local church that the taxi driver, P., was helping at. This community is close to Managua but very isolated without electricity or running water. While they were out there at that church P. said, “I heard there’s a single Christian over on that next ridge. Should we go check things out?” So, they wandered over. Sure enough, there was a 105-year-old pastor, but he can no longer get out of bed, hasn’t preached in a long while, and is alone in his faith there. So, P. and the two other men went to the next house. After some conversation with the incredibly grumpy, sick lady there, he said, “Jesus has told me you will be His today. Repeat after me,” and proceeded to say the salvation prayer. He did the same at the next house. Shocked, the men asked him what he was doing and were very uncomfortable with this seemingly forced approach to evangelism. P. responded, “I know! Doesn’t it seem terrible?! But Jesus spoke to me very clearly and gave me the exact words He wanted me to say. He says to come back in two weeks and these two households will be transformed by Him.”
The missionary couple and the taxi driver did return and both of those households had become followers of Jesus and, again, in both of those households, where there had been debilitating chronic physical illness and pain, it was replaced by health and joy and entirely, miraculously healed. And upon this visit, they said, “We don’t know anything about this powerful God, though. Please teach us. Will you do it?” In amazement, the missionary couple and the taxi driver obediently replied, “Yes.”
And then I enter the scene. After hearing this story, I asked, “Can I come see this?” This sounded like the early church to me. How exciting! The burning zeal that characterized the early church those many years ago sounded like it was present here, too. In that ancient world, where we must also note that most people were illiterate, it was asked that every new believer spend their first three years learning all of God’s word in community. This is how the book of Revelation can have “more than 500 allusions to words or phrases from the Old Testament” with not “a single direct quotation from the Old Testament,” and be fully understood by the early church believers. They had it infused into every fibre of their being. “The early church took seriously Jesus’s statement that people can’t live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the Lord’s mouth (Matt. 4:4). And when Jesus told His disciples to teach others “all that I command you,” they did it (Matt. 28:20).” Wow. How many of us can even say we remember the order of the books of the Bible?
This community is only about 20 km from Managua, but it takes us two hours. We can drive 19 of them (the pastor of that first church the couple had visited walks 18 kilometers to pastor her church each week). Talk about commitment and zeal. When the road gets worse, we stop and park. We walk the rest of the way. As we walk, we attract attention. Three white people out there draws a bit of notice. People say hi and give us a
questioning look. We say we’re going to church and they’re welcome to join us. Many do. Especially the kids. One teenaged girl hands us drawings that she’s done, along with a letter asking for new clothes. Eventually we arrive. The woman from that first house, remember her? She has opened up her “porch” to anyone wanting to learn more about God. So, there are 6 adults and 7 children gathered and ready to begin. Although we don’t have communion (the concept is still foreign), someone has brought pico (a bread filled with a sweet jelly) and Pepsi to share, and it reminds me of the communion and sacrifice that we reflect on during formal church communion in a deeper way than ever before. Next, us girls take the kids. Our Sunday school classroom is the path and our chairs are the logs that have been cut for firewood. We hear the adults joining in song, singing the choruses that they’ve learned since their first week of church. Both the kids and the adults learning the foundations of our faith for the very first time allows me to re-experience my faith like it’s the very first time again, too.
I think my praises and prayer requests for this month are pretty obvious! Help me lift up this house church and its people in prayer, and praise God for this miraculous work.
All quotes taken from Preston Sprinkle’s “4 Ways the Modern Church Looks Nothing Like the Early Church” (Relevant Magazine): https://relevantmagazine.com/god/church/4-ways-modern-church-looks-nothing-early-church