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Nicaragua 35-Day

In the city center of Carazo, there is a large plaza, where many people pass through daily.  Our team was able to make not one but two presentations there because of the turnover in the crowd.  Most of the students who have been to Latin American countries were excited to be in the plaza because that is how they had envisioned Nicaragua, similar to other countries they have visited. 

During our time at the plaza, one of the ministry teams spoke with a young man who recently learned his brother might have hepatitis.  This young man was very scared when he found out, and he did not really know God, but he asked Him for a sign.  Today, he said, something drew him to the plaza, and he saw the drama and the students shared the Gospel with him.  They explained how he can know God personally and how God is the ultimate Healer.  Not only was his life changed, but our team was really encouraged as they saw specifically how God is using them to answer prayers.

This afternoon we traveled to a rehabilitation center that is run by Christians.  The leaders of the center were thrilled to have us.  After the drama presentation, the students were able to have some long conversations with the men there and hear their testimonies of how Christ is delivering them from their addictions.  There was only one woman there, a mother whose son had entered the center only this morning.  This woman has worked with the rehab center for a long time and brought many young men there whose lives have been turned around.  However, her son continued to deny her when she asked that he go.  He finally gave in, and on his first day, our team shows up.  Both of them were crying as they realized how God had encouraged them and affirmed in their hearts that He is Savior.

Tonight the students had the privilege to share some of their stories from the week with the medical team that just came back from the village.  They were excited to hear and tell of what God has done this last week.  Please continue to pray for renewed strength and focus as we minister again tomorrow in Managua.

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

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The Lord is the one who directs our steps and determines our paths.  He directed us to a market this morning, one of the largest in Managua, where we had the opportunity to present the Gospel in three different locations.  The last area we worked in was actually a major bus stop for those traveling to Costa Rica.  There are 32 seats in this open area, and each one was already filled when we showed up.  God had a group designed and ready.  As the drama went on, the group swelled on all sides of the stage, and many had the opportunity to hear.  Among those who stayed to talk with our students, six of them accepted Christ!  We were very excited to be at that site, and we hope to have the opportunity to return.

This afternoon presented more challenges in drawing a crowd.  We went to some park areas where people normally congregate, but they were empty.  Our students invited people to come see the drama, but we had some major competition:  the World Cup.  Most of the people stayed inside to watch the soccer game, but for the handful that came, we shared Christ with them.  One of the girls who came to know Jesus this afternoon attends Omar’s church, but she had not yet come to know Christ.  It was exciting to see how by reaching out and helping the church gain more people to follow up with, one of their own was drawn to the Gospel.

Dinner was a delicious time, with a Nicaraguan manicotti of sorts and rice with milk for dessert.  As the students ate their fill, we were able to converse with the woman who has been cooking for us.  She was so happy to sit down and fellowship with us over the wonderful food she had prepared.  Her comment was that our team is so happy and content all of the time.  Our team is a wonderful group that God has put together, and it is truly a joy to serve with them.  They are making an impact not only out on the streets but also in the evenings as we stay in and fellowship together.

Please continue to pray for focus and joy in sharing the Gospel.  Please pray that we won’t become so accustomed to it that our hearts are hardened to what Jesus is doing here.  Thank you for partnering in prayer with us!

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

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As we traveled to the youth retreat, we had the opportunity to stop at a market and do two presentations.  The students were able to minister to one of the ladies who has a small shop there at the market.  They had prayed for her during the drama and were moved to speak with her.  At first she was intrigued by what they had to say, but then her interest began to wane as people stopped by her shop to purchase things.  There were a couple of times where the conversation would pause so that she could make a sale.  The students prayed that this would not serve as a distraction to deter her from accepting Christ.  In the end, she made the decision to follow Jesus, and we rejoiced with her.

When we pulled up to the youth retreat, the excitement was building in our team.  There are not many youth in the Nicaraguan churches, so our students have not had much opportunity to interact with believers their own age here.  The retreat began with a time of praise and worship followed by a team-building exercise.  Each team came up with a name, a slogan, and a song.  The “gringos” composed their own team.  The students chose the name “Freedom” and the slogan, “You might forget my name, but please remember my Jesus.”

The rest of the afternoon consisted of sports and conversations.  Several students were reminded of their less than stellar skills in soccer and volleyball while others found small groups with whom they could chat or sing.  Our team opened the evening service of the camp, sharing the drama, and calling them to follow Christ, not just with the initial decision but continuing in a daily walk.

Please pray for the youth of Nicaragua.  They are the next generation of the church, but most of the churches here struggle with incorporating youth and discipling them.  Please pray that they will follow Christ and that the older members of the church will come alongside them to teach, exhort, and encourage.  Please continue to pray for our students as they walk out what the Lord is teaching them, as they share the Gospel, and as they set an example for those around them.

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

Buenas noches!  Today was a full day of ministry, as we had the opportunity to share the Gospel through the drama six times today.  Our first site was at a private school.  Even though the students are taught the Bible as one of their classes, we were reminded that not everyone who goes to a Christian school is a Christian.  Praise the Lord, though, that there are now 14 more believers there!  The headmaster was very thankful for our group.  He said that previously they have had groups come in and make presentations, but then they left immediately.  He was thankful that our students went out and ministered to and spoke with their students.  Ministry happens through relationships, and by actually interacting with the people, our message of Christ’s love was affirmed.

The final site for today was not originally on our schedule, but God opened up the opportunity for us to be there, and then He came through.  After the drama, a group went over to talk to one individual, but then a small crowd gathered around her.  After sharing the Gospel, the student asked if anyone would like to believe in Jesus and follow Him.  One man answered for the group, “Yes.”  The student was impressed to explain that this is not a group decision.  Each person must decide for himself if he is going to follow Christ.  One by one the people in the group responded, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus.”   We are so thankful for how God moves, both us and the hearts of people, to draw them to Himself.

Thank you for your continued prayer support.  Tomorrow we have the opportunity to be at a youth retreat where there will be several hundred students.  Not only will we share the drama, but we will have the opportunity to hang out and interact with their youth.  Please pray for God to orchestrate conversations that will engage, challenge, and encourage both their students and ours.

Follow Him,

Kenny & Whitney

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This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!  This morning, we were able to share the drama at a new church plant.  This church was planted by the church that we helped celebrate Father’s Day last week.  It is so humbling to be with these people.  The foundation of their church is a dirt floor with cinderblock walls and some tin supported by a few random poles in order to provide some shade, but their spiritual foundation is very solid.  It was great to praise the Lord with these brothers and sisters.

In the afternoon, we returned to that neighborhood and presented in a different section of it.  A woman saw the drama and was so moved, she asked us to come to her church.  While the students were out ministering to people, this lady ran to get her pastor, and so that is where we went next.  At their church, several people came to see the presentation by the North Americans.  Afterwards, a husband and wife decided to give their hearts to the Lord.

The Lord moved mightily at the last site, and it is still hard to wrap our minds around it enough to put it into words.  We showed up at a park, and there were several families sitting there eating ice cream, and so we set the stage and began the drama.  As the music played, more and more people came from around the park.  Some who were already there called family members to come watch.  The students had many stories of those who gave their lives to Christ.  A young son of a Christian family.  A teenager who realized he needed Jesus.  However, there is one group that stands out.  This group that our students talked to could explain the Gospel, but they did not see the need for a relationship with Christ.  In their minds, if you love God, you can’t have any fun.  When asked why they did not want to know Christ, they replied, “We can’t go to church; we break dance.”  Our students were taken aback.  Not know Christ because you like to break dance?  The Nicaraguan culture is different than American culture, but still, our contacts with us really encouraged these students to follow Jesus.  One of our students had an idea; play some rap music on our sound system and show them that you can break dance and follow Christ.  It was an incredible connection with these students for them to see us try to show them Jesus by loving who they are.

Tomorrow we will begin our work in Carazo.  We will be taking day trips out to the city and returning to the mission house in the evenings.  Please pray that God will open doors in this new city.  Please pray also for our translators, for their rest and health, as they work so hard to help us conquer the language barrier.  Thank you!

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

Country Coordinators

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God has designed our bodies to work for six days and rest on the seventh, so today was our “seventh day.”  After a little later breakfast, the students spent time in the Word and then fellowshipped at their leisure.

The afternoon brought more of the same.  We tried our hand at some of the board games the mission house has, and let’s just say it was determined that yes, we are smarter than a fifth-grader.

After dinner, though, we got back to work.  A new medical mission team came in last night, and as we talked with them today, they requested to see the drama, so the students presented it after dinner to everyone.  It was incredible to see how the students poured out their hearts in worship after having had a time of rest.  The presentation was so moving it brought many of the other team, and our own leadership, to tears, as God used their worship to remind us of the power of the cross and the glory of the resurrection.

Tomorrow we will spend time worshipping with our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters.  Please pray for focus as we return to a full day of ministry.

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

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Today began with hearts full, thankful for the time we had spent in Matagalpa.  The team was sad to leave, but they know we are needed in other places as well, and so we thanked the pastor and began our return journey.  Our journey was a great picture of the Great Commission, because we stopped at several sites along the way to proclaim the Gospel, reminding us, “As you go, make disciples.” 

The first opportunity we had to share the Gospel today was met with many who rejected.  The students’ hearts were heavy, but they determined to not be dejected as there was more  Jesus ministry to do.  The second site yielded fruit, though.  As the students gathered small groups to share, they would ask if anyone would like to know Jesus more, and in each group there was at least one who would boldly state they wanted Christ.  A student described one boy’s reaction as, “I don’t know about y’all, but I want Him!”

When we arrived at the mission house this evening, they had decorated with American flags and had written us a “Happy Independence Day” message.  After a lovely dinner, we enjoyed fellowship and celebration with each other, thankful for the freedoms and opportunities we have in our home country.  Many of the students have expressed a desire to step up more at home and share Christ where they do not have language or cultural barriers.  Tonight was a good reminder of what we have been learning in that arena.

Tomorrow we will be resting at the mission home.  After a week of hard work, the team is ready for some extra rest.  Please pray that we will enjoy tomorrow and be refreshed and ready to go on Sunday.  Thank you for praying for our time in Matagalpa!

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

Today was a happy day to say the least.  At the top of a staircase which stretched up the side of a mountain, the team found themselves at a school for their second drama site.  The only words we can think of to describe this drama site are joy and majesty.  The team fell in love with the students of this school and there was not a straight face to be seen.  Our hearts were overflowing as we witnessed gleaming faces as the students ran around playing while  the majestic handiwork of God painted the background.  The beauty of Nicaragua still amazes us as we see more and more.  The love that was displayed at this site by the team made such a difference in the lives of the children.  As we left, many clung to the legs of our students as tender goodbyes were said.

The team members continue to have their hearts broken for these people.  After a much needed lunch, we headed out again to do more ministry.  We had the opportunity to do two more dramas in a smaller area outside of Matagalpa.  This area was full of hesitancy in responding to the Gospel.  The students all poured out their hearts to the people, only to reap a very small harvest.  Yet we rejoice in knowing that many seeds were planted and our God is Lord of the harvest!

Before we arrived in this area, something very special happened.  When we arrived at Matagalpa a few days ago and got the students settled in, we noticed a boy named Jonathan sitting at the bus stop with his friend making jokes. Several of the students started praying for him when they saw him. Last night, he showed up at a church where we were performing the drama and denied Christ when one of the ministry teams went to talk to him.  This morning, we woke up to find him standing in our bus.  It turns out he is related to one of our bus drivers, Isaac.  Today he began to ask one of our translators some questions as we made our way to the other drama sites.  Our translator, Francis, delved into the Gospel and explained the grace of God and the forgiveness He offers.  The kindness of God broke Jonathan’s heart, and he gave his life to follow Christ.  The change in his demeanor was so evident immediately after.  When we played songs at the next drama, instead of staying in the bus, he came out and worshiped God.

It is so incredible the things that God is doing here in Nicaragua, and we are so humbled to be a part of it all. We look forward to the ministry still to be done in Matagalpa and pray that God uses us tomorrow as we end our ministry in this city. But we don’t look at tomorrow with sadness that we must leave, because we know that God’s ministry here is only beginning.

Your TDs,

Jordan and Crystal

God is sovereign, amen?  Even before we finished breakfast this morning, God had opened a door of opportunity.  The pastor in this area went and sought permission from the local school for us to come do the drama.  Previously, they had said no because it would interrupt their studies, but because we were up and about early this morning, they let us come and open their school day. 

While we were ministering at this school, the pastor received a call from a neighboring community that requested we come present the drama to their school as well.  When the bus stopped, we looked around for the school.  “It is up there,” they said.  We looked up a few hundred feet to see the school on the hillside, and so we climbed to reach the people to share the Good News with them.

The next school was a similar experience; it was a half mile or so walk near the river into a community before we reached their school.  As these are off the beaten path, it is easier to understand why people have not visited them before.  Our students were faithful to literally go the distance today to share the Gospel.  We saw many children and several teachers come to know Him.

Please pray for continued strength and focus, remembering that none of this is about Jesus and not us.  Thank you!

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

Country Coordinators

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We have safely arrived in Matagalpa.  The students have been out doing ministry this afternoon, and they returned so excited by what the Lord has already done!  Over the past few days, they have struggled being truly broken for this people group, but Jesus moved at this site, and the team declared as a whole that this was it; this was where God broke them for the people.

One ministry team was especially enthusiastic in sharing their story.  After the drama, they felt compelled to go talk with these two men.  When asked, the men said they did not understand the second story, so the students began to share about the correlation of the drama to the story of the Bible.  One of the men started asking questions, while his friend looked on contemptuously.  The students asked if they had ever felt the weight of sin, the burden of having done things wrong.  The first man nodded in full agreement, but the second man tried to talk his friend out of listening.  The first one decided to give his life to Christ, to accept His grace and forgiveness and follow Him.  As the group was praying together, tears rolled down the man’s face as his sin was cleansed by Jesus Christ.

This morning, Omar, our contact here, shared some wonderful news with us.  Last night after the Father’s Day celebration, they held a fellowship.  During that time, a man sat with the pastor and said the drama really touched him.  He began to ask questions, and the pastor and Omar shared the Gospel with him.  He owns a bus company in Managua, and he typically does not come to church, or even visit churches at all, but he stopped in yesterday, and his heart was broken for Christ.  We were so excited to celebrate this news, and we were also humbled by it, reminded that it is nothing of us but only Jesus who saves, and He works in all situations.

Our start here in Matagalpa has been wonderful.  Please pray for continued favor in this area, that many might come to know Him.  Thank you for praying for us!

Following Him,

Kenny & Whitney

Country Coordinators