The Gift of the Nicaraguan Context

The Gift of the Nicaraguan Context

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“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” 

Colossians 1:16

The Nehemiah Center is located just outside of Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. 


I often get asked as a gringa who chose to live in Nicaragua what I think about it. My response is typically something like, “I love it here, it is beautiful and the people are fantastic”. 


The beauty is quickly accepted as the sunsets over the volcanos display a stunning view night after night and the lakes and coast dazzle any onlooker. The second part of my answer, however, sometimes creates a bit more of a discussion.


Once in one such conversation, a coworker inquired further and he asked what made me appreciate the people of Nicaragua. My mind ran through a million pleasant encounters I had experienced with strangers, but then it hit me. Nicaraguans are authentic. It is not through being overly direct like I understood authenticity to be in blunt (and maybe at times too honest) communication I had experienced in my North American culture, but in a way that invites people in. I myself was welcomed into a Nicaraguan home with open arms and cared for like a member of the family. However, this was not isolated to my family. Instead I had noticed that each Nicaraguan I met was willing to share about their life and experiences in both the joys and the sorrow. In a context where the average adult has experienced a major earthquake, a war, and both seasons of steep growth and deep economic depression there is plenty of grief to go around. But it is always paired with a “gracias a Dios” (thanks be to God) that we are here today and often leads to a story about a gathering with a mother’s incredible cooking or gushing with photos of a grandchild swaddled in their arms. Between my own broken Spanish, the patience of the conversationalist, and hand motions when needed, strangers quickly became friends. I began to seek out opportunities to chat with anyone who was willing to sit and share their heart. I listened in awe of countless testimonies and was inspired and challenged to approach my other relationships in this same attitude of authenticity and assurance of God’s faithfulness.


Everyone knows that life in Nicaragua is not always an easy one. Grief is a given and is real, but it is never the whole story. Isn’t this the exact story of our faith? Isn’t this the exact message we spend our time and energy in ministry teaching? Oh how we can learn from those we serve.


This context so beautifully demonstrates exactly what the Nehemiah Center’s goal is in teaching a holistic Biblical worldview. God reigns over all of His creation. He doesn’t just exist in the small neighborhood church, but is also sovereign in the jail cells and crowded marketplace. God is not just faithful in the moments of prosperity but is quietly present and walks with the weeping widow and scared teenage girl with a growing belly. And through it all Christians proclaim God’s name with unwavering faith. With almost daily occurrence, the faint (or not so faint, depending on distance) sound of worship resounds from the local congregation in their service. Nicaraguans live their life in constant balance between brokenness and beauty and bravely invite in anyone who is willing to listen.


The Nehemiah Center recognizes the gifts in the Nicaraguan context and desire to utilize that to better equip pastors, church leaders, and youth to seek God amidst all of life’s ups and downs. The openness and authenticity makes it possible to run programs that debrief trauma and points towards a posture of bringing our sorrows to the cross. The church’s role in society offers a safe haven in the inevitable trying times. Our ministry prepares pastors to be able to support their congregation and members through the difficult journey. The Nehemiah Center also embraces the beauty and cultivates pastoral friendships and creates spaces for ministry leaders to rejoice together, celebrate church anniversaries in community, and sabbath in spiritual rest together. 


We give thanks to God for Nicaragua and for the opportunity to serve Him and proclaim His sovereignty and faithfulness through every season. 

Leah Sweetman, Nehemiah Center Volunteer

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