by James Morgan
NICARAGUA – Word and Sacrament continue to reach the people of Nicaragua through Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) mission activity and partnership with the Iglesia Luterana Sonodo de Nicaragua (ILSN).
In May, Vicar Erwind Tijerino was installed at the mission in Granada, near Managua, the capital. His work will be primarily children’s and related educational ministries, says Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC’s Director of Missions and Social Ministry. Dr. Neitzel explains that having a vicar assisting with the activities in Granada has “been a gift from God.” A new mission is to start in Managua next year and it is hoped that Vicar Tijerino will continue to serve in Granada after his ordination in January 2015 in order to supplement the activities expanding to the capital.
Eleven other students at the ILSN seminary will also be ordained and called in January. Dr. Neitzel says one of them will, “God willing,” serve in Managua, where the new mission will also involve “Christ for All Nations” (CPTLN)—the Nicaraguan counterpart of Lutheran Hour Ministries. The plan is to find a property in Managua where an office can be located with space for worship services. CPTLN already carries out ministry from the city of Leon through a radio broadcast and a popular Biblical trivia contest. The new Managua mission is a joint effort of LCC, Lutheran Hour Ministries, and the ILSN, with support from Holy Cross Lutheran Church (Kitchener, Ontario).
In Sebaca, located in the coffee growing region of northwestern Nicaragua, there have been positive developments for the work of Rev. Hector Morales and his wife Christina, who also serves as a deaconess. Two congregations in LCC’s Alberta-British Columbia District arranged for the purchase of property in the area where a new church building can be constructed. The biggest challenge to the mission in Sebaca previously was high rent costs. The new property will give a permanent home for worship and children’s ministry at a more affordable cost.
Rev. Rufino Quintero now has the assistance of Vicar Jairo Gonzalez in his work in Diriamba. The work there now consists of four mission stations. Meetings take place in homes with a strong focus on children and families. Vicar Gonzalez will be responsible for one or two of these locations.
Efforts are also progressing towards making the ILSN more self-sustainable. With the assistance of LCC, property has been purchased with plans to use improved agricultural techniques and land stewardship to grow crops that would both serve the needs of people and raise funds from sales on the regular market. Rev. Dr. Neitzel says the initiative is part of LCC’s plan to gradually shift the Nicaraguan church to financial self-sufficiency over the next 20 years. Al Turner, a retired agricultural expert from Minnedosa, Manitoba, and member of Christ Lutheran Church (Neepawa, Manitoba) has volunteered to assist with developing proper soil and crop conditions. The sandy soil on the land in Nicaragua is best for growing plantain, a certain variety of cherry, corn, and possibly mango and avocado. It is expected to take two to three years before techniques and conditions are in place that will bring favourable crop yields.
James Morgan is a writer and former broadcaster living in Gatineau, Quebec where he is completing a Ph.D in History at the University of Ottawa. His home congregation is Trinity Lutheran near Gowanstown, Ontario, and he also worships at the Lutheran Tri-Parish of Western Quebec.