Lilian, CEPAD regional leader
Eduardo, CEPAD regional leader
Julio, pastor and CEPAD local leader
Pastors learning together in La Concepción
Mileydi, San Marcos, Carazo
Immediately after the earthquake that leveled Managua, Nicaragua at Christmastime in 1972, God used International Ministries missionary Gustavo Parajón to pull together pastors and churches to serve as channels of God's love to rescue and rebuild the lives of the survivors. The organization that arose from the rubble in 1972 continues to serve the people of Nicaragua today. Known as CEPAD, the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua, the organization has been used of God in a staggering variety of ways for nearly forty years.One of the primary things I do each year when I return to Nicaragua is to plug into the leadership training ministry of CEPAD, both at a national level and with several local leadership committees. It is always a treat to accompany Dámaris Albuquerque (executive director) and Gilberto Aguirre (national staff) to the training sessions conducted by these grassroots organizations, to teach... and to learn!
A crucial part of these training sessions is local initiative. The local organizing committee sets the topic and agenda for the seminars I conduct with them. And, at the end of the day, Gilberto conducts a lively time of evaluation, in which the participants talk about what they have learned and to what degree it responded to the agenda that they had set. With engaging humor and energy, Gilberto (referred to by all--and affectionately--as "El Profe [The Professor]") pushes the participants to move beyond vague generalizations and identify what they are taking away from the experience.
In La Concepción last week, one of the pastors commented, "Now I see that we are called to be the church, not just for our own sake, but to become a blessing to those outside our fellowship. We are called to serve them, whoever they may be." Amen to that, brother!
I am grateful for the opportunity to help Nicaraguan church leaders catch a glimpse of ways that God is calling their congregations to look beyond their inner life and become salt and light in their communities. Thanks for the prayers and gifts by which you make this ministry possible!
Many American Baptist churches are currently inviting their members to contribute to the World Mission Offering (WMO). At the same time that we missionaries of IM are seeking personalized commitments to our support, WMO continues to be vitally important to us all. Live generously. Give to the World Mission Offering.
p.s. The last photo is of Mileydi, a young girl whose picture I've taken each year as I return to teach her mother, Maria Andrea, and her colleagues in San Marcos, Carazo. It is great to work with her Mom, and great to see her growing up!