I’d like to tell a story of how God’s been working in Nicaragua this year. It reminds me of the story of Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys and the struggles they faced, even with each other. Personally watching this story unfold in Nicaragua this summer has inspired me and touched me deeply.
Some people guess that the population of Pochocuape, Nicaragua, is about 2,000 people, but it’s hard to find out because extended families live in these 1 and 2-room houses that are scattered deep into the forest and underbrush. Pochocuape is a very poor rural mountaintop village on the outskirts of the capital city of Managua, Nicaragua. Although it’s 30 minutes distance by car, it’s world’s apart from the busy city life of Managua. Some people who live in Pochocuape have never gone down the mountain into the city.
My husband Dock and I serve on the Ginger Creek Global missions team. We just returned from 5 months in Managua. Much of our time there was spent with Pastor Jorge and his wife Monica and the Iglesia Gran Familia of Pochocuape — the Big Family Church. Jorge and Monica are missionaries in the real sense of the word. They were born and raised in the city of Leon to the north of Managua. Six years ago and shortly after marrying, they moved from city life to this very different and poor rural culture to minister among the people. Through a string of difficult ministry situations, God has been teaching them about reconciliation, restoration of relationships and endurance and longsuffering. God has for some reason kept them on a learning track about his desire to heal brokenness, broken hearts and broken relationships — broken relationships with God and with each other. Their ministry has focused this year on bringing healing to relationships in this small community because historically, Pochocuape is comprised of four major family clans. These clans have increasingly been at odds with each other..to the point that gang activity has started to infiltrate the community. And these family feuds and disagreements eek over into church relationships, proving that the fallen aspects of human nature is the same worldwide.
This summer, 11 of the church leaders committed to an intensive, 8-month self-diagnosis study called La Iglesia Saludable (or The Healthy Church) led by Nicaraguan Director Henry Cruz of the Nehemiah Center. In July and in the middle of this study on how God might want their church family to serve him and each other better, one family in the community, not in the church, had a sudden and difficult situation happen. Their 12-year old daughter developed a heart condition and had to have open heart surgery. The surgery was successful and Selenia was sent home to recuperate. She tearfully testified to her family and community of how God had been so gracious to her. She was grateful to God and wanted her life to be a testimony to others of God’s love and grace. Shortly after coming home from the hospital, her heart stopped and she was rushed back to the hospital. They revived her, but the long trip down the mountain and to the hospital had deprived her brain of oxygen, so brain inflammation and other complications started setting in. Today, after all these months, Selenia is still in Intensive Care and has been put on life-support.
Over the years, one family from the Pochocuape church had experienced offense and broken relationship with others in Selenia’s family so there was a rift in relationships and lots of hard feelings. Relationships were very strained. As the summer went along, Monica led the women of the church in coming around Selenia’s family and helping in practical ways and with prayer and encouragement. One day recently, this one family from the church approached Selenia’s family at the hospital and asked for forgiveness for their part in the broken relationships between the two families. God works in mysterious ways to bring about healing. And sometimes the healing we ask for physically becomes healing spiritually. So you could say that Selenia’s prayer was answered. She wanted her life and experience to be a testimony for God’s glory. It has been a beautiful beginning for much healing among God’s people. Because of the insurmountable expenses to this very poor family, the church recently walked through the community and received an offering to help with expenses. In a community where the average household income might reach $4 per day, they raised and unbelievable $50 for the family in just a short time.
The hospital does not want anyone other than family to be in Selenia’s room, but in October and despite the hospital’s wishes, Selenia’s mom asked Dock to pray with Selenia. During the prayer for God’s love to surround and care for Selenia, and although she could not speak, Selenia’s body language and the monitors she is hooked up to indicated definite signs of her awareness of that moment. The Big Family Church of Pochocuape is committed to continue walking with Selenia’s family through their journey with emotional and prayer support. For them, it’s an ongoing part of God’s story of healing, forgiveness and restoration.
¡Dios reina y toda la gloria es Suya!