One of the goals of the Church Friendship Program at the Nehemiah Center is to provide opportunities for churches to learn from each other. Pastors from Chinandega were able to visit Pella in May 2018, and they continue to testify about the transformative experience they had. What they saw in Pella has inspired them to incorporate some new and “foreign” practices at their churches.
One specific example is the Church of the Nazarene in Chinandega. The fellowship committee has initiated a new practice this year. Every third Sunday of the month, they combine morning Sunday school and evening church services into one extended service with a potluck lunch afterwards. The two church plants that the church supports are invited as well. They call them “agape services” because they are trying to cultivate unconditional love for each other through sharing and fellowship.
“At first it was a mess,” exclaimed Pastora Alejandra Delgadillo, who accompanied her husband Paulino Muñoz to Pella. “They asked adults to line up separately from children, and we had no way to serve two lines. Then we decided that families should go through the line together since parents know what their children will eat anyway. We use the church’s Whatsapp group to coordinate who will bring different dishes so there’s a good variety.”
“We want to bring the church together and promote fellowship,” said Pastor Paulino. This is something the fellowship committee started this year, and every time the system becomes more streamlined. Alejandra says each time has gone better since they started in February. “We learned this in Pella!” she said excitedly. Nicaraguans are not accustomed to potlucks, and they still don’t serve themselves at the church. “The people at the front wouldn’t leave anything for the people at the back of the line if they served themselves,” explained Alejandra. However, they have started to see that there are more leftovers now as people bring more food to share and the servers help portion it out so everyone can get enough.
After Alejandra and Paulino saw how different church members and families pulled together to provide food for their visit in Pella and even how different churches work together for community service projects, they feel inspired to promote that kind of teamwork in Chinandega. The agape Sundays are just a start to the plans they have for implementing ideas they got in Pella. May the Lord grow the seeds that have been planted into mighty trees for the Kingdom of heaven.