A messy joy

A messy joy

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Nehemiah Center Blogs

Scott & Bethany

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We recently had a mission team down to work in “El Anexo”, a poor neighborhood filled with alcohol, drugs, abuse, prostitution, and other effects of poverty and sin, but at the same time a holy ground where the Spirit of God is cultivating transformation.

The team arrived with the expectation of serving people in need, but also with a heart open to learning. Hand in hand with the neighbors, they worked on the restoration of a nameless park; they put in soccer goals, buried tires for seats and painted everything.

After an entire morning’s work of painting playground equipment, the team came back for the afternoon to find their flawless paint job partially ruined! However, no one got discouraged. Why? Because the damage was created by a horde of excited neighborhood children who could not wait for the paint to completely dry before starting to play on the colorful slides and monkey bars. There was many a bottom covered with wet paint. With a grin, the team left the kids to play, and resolved to simply touch up their work the following day.

Paint projects, like many other things in Nicaragua, don’t always go smoothly. However, since the team decided early on to value relationships over task completion, the bumps in the road simply became funny experiences to smile over. After a full week of painting, listening and learning from testimonies, playing with children, enjoying God’s creation, and practicing Spanish, the team felt impacted by the joy and simplicity of the people that they interacted with throughout the week. Did their work make a difference? Time will reveal the lasting impact, but I can testify that every time I went to the park in preparation for the project: No one was there. Now, however, every time I pass by the park – no matter what time of day – it is filled with people!

“Now children do not need to go far to find a place to have fun,” said Eduardo Lacayo, one of the leaders of the community. “The neighborhood has a new face,” said another neighbor who joined the cleanup and restoration of the park.

One of the best parts of the trip was the rawness of it. We did not work out of a church or a compound, sheltering them from the poverty. We were in the community, in people’s homes, listening to their stories, praying for them, and getting dirty and sweaty alongside of them. The mission team saw poverty straight on, and yet they realized the great strengths of many believers who are working together for the good of this barrio. Already the young men from “El Anexo” want to know when they are coming back.

The fields are ripe for harvest. There is more good work to be done in people’s lives than we have time. Pray that God rises up workers for the harvest and energizes us to make the most of the time.

More about Scott & Bethany McEwan’s ministry here

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