It was more than a privilege to be part of our team from Gaylord E-Free that went to Nicaragua recently. Our church is part of a “church-to-church” partnership through World Orphans with a small church in Managua, Nicaragua, called “Verbo Sur.”
Verbo Sur is led by a wonderful man named Pastor Jairo. They are located in one of the poorest communities in Managua where they run a Child Development Center (CDC). This CDC involves academic programs for preschoolers and provides a safe place for elementary students to come when they are not in school and their parents are at work.
Our partnership supports Verbo Sur’s CDC each month, but the key to our partnership is relationship. That is why we send one or sometimes two teams to Nicaragua each year.
We have asked Pastor Jairo if it would be more beneficial to send the money we spend on these trips rather than taking the trips. He insisted that our presence is what they need much more than our money. He and his staff are starved for encouragement and soak up our love and friendship like dry sponges.
This was especially seen in the life of Pastor Jairo’s wife. She was in desperate need of encouragement and love from a godly woman, which she found in my wife, Laura. Though they could not speak the same language, they connected in a very special way. Pastor Jairo shared how much her presence meant to his wife. I did not think she was going to let go of Laura when we were saying our goodbyes.
Obviously, the most enjoyable part of the trip was spending time with the precious children in their care, which included playing with them and doing crafts we had brought with us.
I think each of us on the team were drawn to one specific child. For me, it was a boy I affectionately called "Onion." I couldn't understand what he said his name was, but it sounded like "Onion," so that is what I called him. He would come over to me and point at my water bottle and say, "agua." I would then have him tilt his head and open his mouth and I would pour some water in it. We did this for hours along with playing with paper airplanes and paper footballs!
We also participated in a two-day medical clinic where doctors from Nicaragua provided free medical treatment for 190 people (adults and children) from the community. Each person who came had their height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature checked. They received a “de-worming” pill due to the parasites that are in the ground, and the small children received Vitamin A. They also checked everyone’s blood sugar, and each met with a doctor. They received any prescriptions they needed. Our partnership paid for all of the medicine that was given out over these two days.
The most beautiful part of the medical clinic was watching a dear lady from the Verbo Sur church named Veronica. The last station in the clinic for adults was meeting one-on-one with Veronica who talked with them about their spiritual lives. She prayed for each one of them individually, and over the two days, she personally led 11 adults to Christ. When I saw her Bible, I knew exactly why she was so effective. It was literally falling apart, having been read so much.
On another day, we gave rice, beans, and sugar for 50 of the poorest families in the community around Verbo Sur at the invitation of the church. These families came to a program put on by the church which included a message from Pastor Jairo, and each were each given a bag of much needed food. Though we provided the food, everything is given through the church and the staff at Verbo Sur, so the people make the connection with them and not with us.
What a joy it was to be part of the lively Sunday morning worship at Verbo Sur. I could not understand one word they said with my ears, but I understood every word with my heart. It was truly beautiful to watch these very poor people who are dedicated to the Lord singing His praises in Spanish.
Seven of the 11 people who prayed to receive Christ at the Medical Cente were at church that morning, and Pastor Jairo presented them to the church. Several who had come to the food distribution were there as well.
I had the privilege of preaching that morning through an interpreter. Our team got a real kick out of Dennis, the interpreter, as he did not just repeat my words in Spanish, he mimicked every move and motion I made as well as all of the up and down inflections of my voice. Time spent with both of our interpreters and our bus driver was a very fun and valuable part of our trip.
On Sunday at church, I presented Pastor Jairo a plaque I had made that included a stone I picked up in a creek at the Valley of Elah in Israel where David most likely picked up his stone to kill Goliath. On the plaque were verses in Spanish that tell of David picking up the stone he used to kill Goliath. My hope is for this to always remind Pastor Jairo that there is no giant that can come into his life or ministry that is bigger than our God.
It was a joy to surround Pastor Jairo and the special staff at Verbo Sur and to pray for them before we left. They will remain in our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers! I came home with great joy knowing that E-Free Church is making a significant difference in this poor community in Managua, Nicaragua!