For many people, pastoral ministry and political careers are like two substances that shouldn’t be mixed. After a long history of polarized political parties characterized by personal interest, corruption, and manipulation of the poor, many Nicaraguans consider the political realm to be “a land where God is not.”
Nevertheless, William Estrada, with 22 years in pastoral work, has challenged this premise by accepting a political seat on the Municipal Council of his city. During a meeting with the Agents of Transformation network in Chinandega, we took the opportunity to interview Pastor William and learn more about this case of a pastor “involved in politics.” Here the interview.
How is it that as a pastor you became involved in a political position?
William: The party that won the elections in my municipality wanted a pastor among their legislators, so then before the elections, they asked the Council of Pastors to elect someone as representative of the evangelical church within the city hall. The council of pastors nominated me, and the community backed it up.
So, the party searched actively for a way to include me in their legislation, without being a politician. I then understood that the party was interested because I had a lot of contact with the community, the church, and the pastoral network and they wanted to take advantage of that.
Do you like politics?
William: You know, there are people who can sit for hours and hours and talk about politics, but i really don’t care for that. Politics were meant to be surrendered to the plan of God.
I don’t consider myself a politician. I have a political position, but my priority is the
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people. I didn’t participate in any of the propaganda or campaigns. I don’t talk like a politician; I talk like a pastor, like a Christian not dressed in political colors.
So then why did you say “yes” to the invitation?
William: I saw that this was an opportunity that came about not because of my capacity but something that came from God. I said yes because I was seeing much injustice happening in my community. I said yes because I knew that there were many needs that could be resolved but were just thrown aside and forgotten. I said yes because Jesus said, “I was naked and you clothed me,” and I feel a passion for serving the community. I believe that we were created to serve and not to be served.
Another aspect that motivated me to accept the position was the verse in Proverbs 11:11 that says, “When the righteous govern, the city flourishes.” I believe that those that should be seated there (governing) are the righteous. The other pastors encouraged me to take on the position because they told me, “With you there, things are going to be more just.”
Many believe that politics is risky ground for a pastor. They say that it is an arena where Christian values have to be negotiated at times. What do you think?
William: Oh sure, you see that happen often. For example, sometimes proposals are formed and in a very diplomatic way, they tell us when to vote by saying, “At such and such time, raise your hand to give your vote.” But I haven’t remained silent to question and to make others think about the impact of those decisions I believe that weren’t made appropriately.
It doesn’t scare you that you might be dismissed?
William: I have said to them, “If I were to abstain from voting and because of that was forced to choose between my political position and my work as a pastor, which do you think I will choose?” They are clear that if the time came to decide, I would choose to remain a pastor although I had lost my position on the council.
My testimony has cost me too much to just toss it away. I owe everything to the Lord, my church, and the community that has seen my work, and with that in mind, I prefer to renounce my political position before doing anything that isn’t of benefit to the community.
How have the people flourished with your work at the city hall?
William: My work as a Councilman gives the community the peace that someone with an interest for them is there. They have the peace that someone is there in the political arena, watching that things are done well.
The mayor and vice-mayor tend to say, “The pastor now knows all of the internal workings of the city hall and the economic issues in all areas, so then, we cannot lie to the people.”
The pastors and people of my community also now go to the city hall when they have needs. They know that, through me, the answer to their request can arrive more quickly.
God put me there to testify for Jesus Christ as well and to tell my political colleagues, “Your political career is important, but it’s not going to carry you all on its own to where God wants you to be.” Several of them have begun to walk in the Gospel.
Pastor William Estrada, along with his wife Karla Vanessa and their three children, continue to minister to the Mount of Olives Church in the community “Alemania Federal” in the municipality of El Realejo.
We pray for the Lord’s wisdom and grace so that William may continue in his work as an Agent of Transformation in the department of Chinandega, and that his work serves as an inspiration to others.
by Hultner Estrada & Bethany Beachum