Blogs by Danny J Johnson SR
Nicaragua Missionary Experience
9/10/2012 7:39:57 AM
A short dailey Journal of my experiences on a 8 day mission trip to Nicaragua that resulted in 4300+ salvations and an incredible experience for me sharing Christ
My Daily Memoirs of My First Mission Trip to Nicaragua June 2012
Day 1 & 2: Nicaraguan Mission Trip
June 15 thru 23rd, 2012
My first ever trip to Nicaragua began on a bad note as we were traveling to Victoria, TX to catch our plane to Houston two of my traveling companions from South Texas received an email supposedly from me asking for money to help me get out of a jam in England. They received this at about the same time and I found out later so did everyone on my contact list. I of course was sitting next to them as we traveled. My sweet wife Darlene went immediately into action as she sent everyone on both of my email accounts a message telling them to ignore the false message. The hacker did succeed in removing every contact and all of my saved folders, but I believe they failed at getting anyone to send money.
I got into that mess when only a day before I received what appeared to be a legitimate email from Yahoo telling me that my account had been hacked and I needed to change my email password. They gave me a place to do just hat so I did. This gave them access to my accounts and thus the mess they caused. I suggest that if you receive a similar email that you do not use the links provided, you should perhaps change the password but do it through the provider’s web site only.
Our flight to Nicaragua went well and we arrived in the beautiful, green country of Nicaragua on time and were met by our hosts and missionaries from Nicaragua Nate & Melody Durant. We checked into our motel which was rather primitive and had only cold water for showering. They did have a window unit A/C thankfully and we slept well and left early Saturday to prepare for the Crusade beginning Sunday. A visit to a local market was interesting, much like Mexico. We then traveled to Jinotepe, Nicaragua which would be our base for the Crusade. There we checked into a much better motel owned and operated my two wonderful Messianic Jews and a staff of Christian Nicaraguans who were wonderful to us.
I roomed with my former Pastor and great friend Matt Marshall and a fantastic Nicaraguan, who was our interpreter, Francisco. Quite the character, Francisco became a good friend. A man who lived in Florida and spoke excellent English, Francisco had been deported back to Nicaragua for selling drugs. He married and found the Lord and today is a dedicated Christian with a beautiful family, his spouse and three daughters and another young lady who they claim as a daughter. All are saved and living for the Lord. Our room in the new motel was much better, clean sheets and even showers that were comfortable. The second night was great as was every night there. We got up early Sunday morning to begin our Crusade.
Day 3: Nicaraguan Mission Trip
On Sunday June 17, 2012 we got up at 5am and ate breakfast at the motel. This very nice motel provided us with a good breakfast and showed us a 5 gallon water bottle that was free to us to fill our water bottles with fresh cold purified water. This turned out to be a wonderful complimentary benefit, courtesy of the motel management. They also provided us free of charge a Vonage phone that allowed us to call home without cost.
After breakfast we went to the church in Diriamba, Nicaragua that would be our home base and the city that would be our mission field for the week. There we met and began a wonderful relationship with a group of Nicaraguan Pastors, including the church’s pastor. We also were introduced to a group of young men and women from the different churches represented. They turned out to be one of the great joys of the trip as we found out that they were dedicated hard workers for the cause of Christ. We heard songs from the young Nicaraguan boys and girls that were sung with passion and praise worthy of our Lord. After loading our vans with rice and gospel tracts for the adults and candy, fountain pens and tracts for the children, we left for the first day of ministry.
Our first stop was a neighborhood deep into the mountains above the city. It was a very poor area but people came from everywhere to hear what we had to say. The Nicaraguan pastors took the portable loud speakers and headed off in different directions broadcasting that we would be preaching the Word of God and providing food to all who came. The rest of us headed off in various directions making contact with people in their homes. We had Nicaraguan young people and interpreters with us. My first contact was with a man who was not ready to give his life to Christ but he took us to a family next door where the elder mother was very sick and in need of medications she could not afford. Like many families in Nicaragua the home was rough, hot and small and the woman was in obvious suffering. Grandmother, several daughters and their families shared the home. We met outside where I talked to them about Jesus but because their mom was in pain they were more interested in learning if we would help her buy pain medicines. I told them that I’d speak to Nathan our leader and see what we could do. I prayed for her, comforted her and promised we would return.
I spoke to Nate and he promised to speak with her after the preaching. Nate preached the first service that day and we saw the first fruits of our labor as a good number received Christ. We handed out the food and tracts and then Nate and I with others went to the old lady’s home. We were met by two daughters and other family members. Nathan proceeded to explain that we were not a wealthy group but that he would give her the money for the pain medicines. I didn’t bring much money but I couldn’t help but give towards her medicines too. Afterward Nate led several of the family members to Christ, including the old lady.
We next went to another neighborhood not far from the first where we experienced a heavy rain. Meeting under a small shed with a metal roof next to a house I got to preach for the first time. My message was on making the decision for Christ or rejecting Him. There was maybe twenty or so from the neighborhood and as many children. As the rain pored and we all dodged barbed wire clothes lines I presented my message. When I asked how many had prayed the sinners prayer only about six hands went up and to be honest I felt like a failure and very disappointed. Later Melody, Nate’s wife and Violet one of our Nicaraguan translators both came up and talked with me knowing my disappointment. Both were kind and assured me that my message was good. Later I found out through the Nicaraguans that both the Jehovah Witness and Church of Christ had a heavy presence there.
We finished the day in another neighborhood at a small community center again as it rained. Another brother from Oklahoma preached there and we saw souls saved. About 200 that first day I believe. Returning back to the church hot, wet and tired we went back to the motel.
Day 4: Nicaragua Mission Trip
On Monday we began our day once again at the Church that was our base of operations. After the Nicaraguans were fed breakfast by our American women, fruit and sweet bread which was much like coffee cake and Tang made from the local water supply, a definite no-no for Americano’s. Again we sang Spanish songs of praise and worship led by the young Nicaraguans. Finally hearing Nathan preach and exhort us to go forth and win the lost. The vans and bus were loaded with the day’s supplies and off we went again.
We drove again way back into the mountains and spent our day first at a small school with one classroom for all of the local children. Melody lead a group inside the classroom where they presented the Evanga-cube to the students. The Evanga-cube is a visual way to present the gospel of Christ and is a very effective way to communicate Christ to children and young people. Meanwhile Nate had the Nicaraguan young people sing songs of praise and worship and the pastors preach to about 15 to 20 people from the neighborhood. Once again many were saved. We passed out tracts and rice to all of the adults and pens, candy and tracts to the children. It was extremely hot and humid there but what made this area the most uncomfortable was that there was no breeze at all and the gnats and flies were very bad. This area was the most difficult to physically tolerate but we were still blessed by God and the people in this remote area.
We next went back down into a more heavily populated area and set up on the road in front of a house where one of the pastors knew the resident. They gave us access to electricity and before long the young people who accompanied us joined with some other youths in the neighborhood and soon we had a keyboard, speakers and a microphone. Our youth joined by local youths then began to sing and praise the Lord. People began to gather and we soon had close to 100 there. The children were taken down the road a little where Melody, Brenda and Shandra, both from Oklahoma ministered to them. I was asked to give my testimony to the adults left there and afterward Brent, Shandra’s husband preached the Gospel to the crowd. Brent a policeman in Mc Alester, Oklahoma, preached a powerful message but the crowd was hesitant to respond and only a small percentage raised their hands when asked how many had received Christ as Savior. Many who did profess receiving Christ were very elderly. Some may have been hesitant to raise their hands and later we found out that the area received preaching on a regular basis, so I hope that perhaps many were already saved.
Twice we had cattle herded through our service as well as several who walked or cycled through without stopping. Distractions are a problem and a tool the devil uses to take people’s minds off of the message of salvation. There still was a good number who professed faith in Jesus. In Nicaragua it is very common to see people walking everywhere along the narrow roads. We saw many crudely built wagons pulled either by horses or cattle. Except that they used modern axels and rubber tires they used the same methods for hauling that have been used since early Old Testament times. I saw them hauling firewood, building materials, trash and many different things when we were there. Horses are used by many for many various reasons. You were able to get a sense of life before motorized vehicles.
We passed out the Rice, candy and tracts and found ourselves inundated with many more adults & children than had been at our service. This actually was a common practice as the people know that when the preaching is done the goodies are handed out. Kind of sad because the bread of life is sometimes neglected by hungry stomachs for bread and rice; it is obvious that the people most often know how it works and therefore how to play the game but it is still worthwhile because precious soul are reached for Christ and where the Gospel is presented the Word of God has the opportunity to reach the hearts and minds of the lost. Hunger is a powerful motivator and these people do what they must to fill their bellies; wouldn’t we all.
Day 5: Nicaraguan Mission Trip Tuesday 06-19-2012
A day to be forever remembered
Tuesday began like every other day at the church with breakfast for the Nicaraguan pastors and youth. Prayer, praise and song followed by another of Nate’s inspiring preaching’s. We had several testimonies from Americans and Nicaraguans that blessed our hearts. Reloading we took off for our third day of the crusade. Our first stop was at a school. When we arrived we discovered that it was a small school and that they had arranged for us to present the Gospel to the children all together at an outside location. The kids were all lined up so neatly ranging from high school aged to the left down to the first graders opposite to our right. Each group older to younger lined up very orderly and respectfully.
I was not part of this presentation so I was off to the side preparing for a supporting role in the service. Violet, a wonderful 28 year old Nicaraguan born interpreter who had lived in Los Angeles, California before marrying a Nicaraguan and moving back to Nicaragua came up to me and asked if I was doing anything in the coming service. I told her that I was only in a supporting role. She asked me to walk with her a short distance where we could see around the school building. There in the distance she showed me a young man sitting by himself. Looking at me she told me that she knew I liked talking one on one with people and that she felt something had told her that we needed to talk with that man. I looked at her and said. “Let’s do it.” Off we went.
As we approached this young man we could see that he was probably early 30’s with long coal black hair pulled back into a pony tail. The closer we got it was easy to see that his arms were covered in tattoos and others extended up his neck. He had the rough look of one who might be a gang member and I might have been scared to approach him another time but this time I saw him as a man who probably needed to know my Lord. As we approached he looked at us apprehensively but not angrily. Violet walked bravely beside me showing no fear.
When we got close I told him that we wanted to talk to him about Jesus. As Violet repeated in Spanish he just shook his head in a way that told us that he was wishing we’d left him alone but he did not walk away. He was sitting on a curb so I sat down in front of him with Violet to my right. I began by telling him I was an American and here in Nicaragua to share Jesus with him and others. He just looked at me coolly with a know it all; heard it before kind of smile on his face. I told him that we were all sinners and in need of a Savior. Coolly he looked at me and said, “I don’t have any sins.” I smiled at him and told him that Gods Word tells us that we are all sinners and come short of God’s Glory. I began talking to him about what Jesus did on Calvary, how He died on the cross for his sins, mine and Violets and how he spent three days and nights in the grave before he rose again and in doing so gave us the opportunity to have eternal life. He listened intently and as I gave him the Gospel you could see the beginnings of the Holy Spirits work on his heart.
Finally I got to the place where I told him it was time for his decision to either accept the Lords gift of Mercy and Grace or to reject it. He just sat there looking at me, Violet and I said nothing. Slowly he looked down and then he turned to Violet and spoke. Violet related to me that he had told her words to this effect, “I can’t, I have too much sin. God could never forgive me.” I rose to my knees, looking him directly into his face I placed my hand upon his shoulder and looking into his eyes, I noticed tear drops in the corner of his eyes. Looking at him and feeling a love for this broken man that comes through us from our God I told him, “If that was true then God could never have forgiven me because my life too had been too full of sin.” I told him that God’s love and grace were much greater than our sin.” I told him that God loved him and wanted him to be His son. You could see the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart when I told him that. I further told him that God’s forgiveness is so great that there was not a sin that he could commit that God would not forgive. The look in his eyes spoke to my heart as I removed my hand and moved back a little still looking into his eyes.
He looked at Violet and back at me. I then told him that the decision time was now. Either he must accept or reject the love of Christ. Looking at Violet he spoke, she in turn looked at me with a look of pure joy she said that he wanted to accept Christ. I prayed asking him to repeat the sinners prayer from his heart and only if he meant it. He repeated the prayer as Violet interpreted it in Spanish to him. As he finished tears streamed down his cheeks, I griped his hand and welcomed him as my brother in Christ Jesus.
Almost as soon as we finished three boys, triplets about seven and a little girl slightly older came up. They were his children. They came to me and I bowed down and hugged them all telling Violet to tell them I was like a grandpa. I then told the four children that I had good news for them that their daddy had just asked Jesus into his heart. The kids all cheered. I looked up to see him smiling, an angelic glow about his face with tears coming from his eyes. We both shook his hand expressing our joy and then we said our goodbyes. Violet and I walked back praising God and feeling like we were walking on air.
This glorious day was not over for when I got back Nathan asked Violet and I to meet with the teachers and present the Gospel to them. We did just that as we met with twelve teachers. Six of the twelve gave their hearts to Christ. I left that school walking on air.
We went into other schools that day and using the Evanga-cube many children and teachers asked Jesus into their hearts. It was truly one of the great moments in my life, a Devine appointment and I thank Violet for being so observant and dedicated to our Lord. I thank our sweet Lord for the privilege of being used by Him to present His Word and for the Holy Spirits work within a broken man’s heart.
Day 6: Nicaraguan Mission Trip
Again we met at the church in Diriamba, Nicaragua. Each morning began with our getting together as Nate would evaluate our supplies of rice bags, tracts, pens and candy. We would bag more rice as needed and make sure that our van was loaded with everything we would need. The men would usually do this as the women prepared breakfast for the Nicaraguans and made our sandwiches for that day’s lunch. Everyone who did not get purified water at the motel would buy theirs for the day at a corner convenience store across from the church. Pastor Matt would usually take several handfuls of tracts and go out on the streets to pass them out to anyone who came by. His passion for souls of the Nicaraguan people touched your heart, though knowing him as well as I do, not at all surprising. His efforts led to the salvations of an old carpenter/ furniture maker and a young woman he met on the street who could speak English. Art Coronado speaking Spanish along with Pastor Matt led the furniture maker to Christ and I got the privilege of being there to witness his conversion.
Once again we moved inside to begin our day with songs of praise and worship led by the Nicaraguans. The joy in their voices and songs were always inspirational and I feel began the day with Holy Spirit filled joy in each of our hearts. Before pastor Nate began his morning preaching he asked for testimonials from us about our first two days of the Crusade.
After a couple of others got up and told their inspiring stories of the past two days I raised my hand to testify. I asked Violet to interpret for me because she was very much a crucial part in the testimony I was going to deliver. I got up and told those there the story of the young man that we had shared with the day before. I related the story much like what I have already shared in this writing, day 5 and then I sat down.
The next one to testify was a Nicaraguan pastor. When he got to the front he looked over at me and then began to tell us that the young man we had led to the Lord the day before was well known to several of the pastors. There had been a number of times that they had tried to witness to him unsuccessfully. He stated that the man was a known gang member and a man who was known to have done many bad things. He told of how he had watched Violet and I talk with the man and not remembering whether he said it then or later to me he told us how he had seen God working in this man as we witnessed and how it had blessed him. I must admit that by the time he sat down my eyes were running as I was overwhelmed how God had blessed me not only with the opportunity to witness to him but also getting to learn more about him. I got up and went over to where that pastor was sitting and hugged him, thanking him for blessing my heart.
The leading of this young man the day before to the saving Grace of our Lord and hearing his story that morning was by itself reason enough to justify my entire trip. I told him later through an interpreter that he and the others had planted seeds of the Gospel into the man’s heart and God had given Violet and I the joy of the harvest but all of us could rejoice and glorify God for His Grace and all were partakers in God’s harvest. We almost never hear about the strangers we meet and witness too. We almost never know anything of their lives. I was blessed to hear this about this man and hope that someday I will hear that his life was changed and that God was working wonderful things in his life and the lives of his family. Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to reach the heart of someone. Even Jesus struggled to be accepted in His own hometown. God used me an American to reach into the heart of a Nicaraguan man, for that Lord I am thankful to have been used by You Lord.
This day was a day of visiting schools as our group was divided into four groups. I had the privilege of being in Melody’s group. Melody would present the Evanga-cube to the younger children and I would present to the older kids. The two young Nicaraguan young people in our group, Francisco and Gabriel both either late teens or early twenties were wonderful, hardworking and dedicated young men. They would spread out and hold up the Evanga-cube sheets so that every child could see them. They also ramrodded the passing out of tracts, candy and ink pens that we provided to each student. Violet was wonderful as our interpreter always beginning by introducing Melody and I as Americans from the USA and the young men as Nicaraguan’s. She also quieted down any noisy kids telling them that we had come a long way to speak with them and they needed to respect that.
Melody was wonderful in her presentation and I learned much from her. She often began by telling them of her son that is in prison. She used this to show them how sin in our lives will lead to a life full of woe. Mel then would use Adam and Eve and their sin in the garden as a way to explain why we are all sinners naturally. I thought she presented it extremely well so I incorporated that into my presentation too.
I do not recall how many classrooms we visited but I do know that many children that we witnessed to and many that our group witnessed too professed Christ and prayed for salvation. One group to whom I witnessed that day was middle school age and a tough bunch. Several of them, six I believe refused to pray for salvation but the vast majority did. We gave the teachers a special teacher’s pack of tracts, candy, pens and each received a bag of rice. The teachers were usually gathered together and Nate would witness to them. Most asked Christ into their hearts.
After our last school we went across the street to a heavily shaded area. The Nicaraguan pastors had walked the streets using portable loud speakers to announce that we would be having a service and distributing gifts I believe at about 3pm. We had some time to kill and took the time to eat lunch and drink water. A large group of adults and children gathered awaiting the service. Since the Nicaraguan pastors were going to handle the adult service Nate asked me to help with the children. While they were singing both adults and children I walked up a slight hill to a large open area. I found a baseball field with a very ragged looking backstop where there was adequate shade. When I got back I reported what I found and was told to lead them there. Melody, Brent and Shandra, Brenda and I along with most of the Nicaraguan young people began our walk. Most of the children, younger one accompanied by their mothers and others went to the area I had found.
Unfortunately, it was quite noisy as we had a large crowd. The older boys kept to the back and seemed disinterested. Sometimes the older boys would try to act tough and usually when there was a group we had few of them listen or receive Christ. The American ladies would attempt to present the Evanga-cube with Violets help but they had a time getting their attention. But there were still children who listened and there were still many who received Christ. We passed out the goodies and then started back towards the pastors.
It was then that I noticed an elderly extremely skinny older woman following me. I smiled at her as I was walking but something told me that she was following me for a reason. I saw Violet up ahead with some of the women so I got her attention and waved to her to join me. She came right away and I told her of the old woman who still stood only a short distance from me. Violet walked up to her and I told her to ask the lady if she were a Christian. She spoke to Violet and she turned and told me that she had said that she was not a Christian but that she wanted to be. I began to witness through Violet and it became clear that she believed Jesus to be the Savior, trusted that He died for her sins and believed that He rose again. I looked at her, placed my hand gently upon her very bony shoulder asking her if she was prepared to receive Christ, she quickly said yes so I through Violet prayed the sinner’s prayer. This beautiful precious elderly woman, emaciated from a life of hunger, hard work, and even more bitter living conditions repeated the prayer respectfully and I felt from the deepest part of her heart. When we finished I looked into her tired eyes and proclaimed to her that she had just asked Christ into her heart and that she was now a daughter of God. With wetness in her eyes she smiled a beautiful smile of understanding, Violet gently hugged her and then we said our goodbyes. The vans were waiting on us to leave. We rejoiced together as we returned knowing that this had been a Devine appointment and that heaven would be her home. I prayed and thanked God for that sweet old woman’s salvation.
We thanked God for a glorious day and the Nicaraguans in our van sang praise songs as we returned to the Church tired, covered in sweat but with hearts full of joy. Another hot, humid day that ended with each of us knowing that because we came and proclaimed the Lords Gospel to these people as Jesus commissioned us to do, that people who had been lost and on the road to hell now knew Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Is there anything better than that?
Day 7: Nicaraguan Mission Trip
As we left our motel for the last day of the Crusade, I like most of the other Americans couldn’t help but feel that the week had gone by too quickly. Tired as we were each of us had experienced God at work. I had gotten to know at the motel the other Americans from Oklahoma who had been on the other team that was led by Art Coronado and his sweet wife Annabelle. In addition to Pastor Matt our fellow south Texan, there was Barbra, nicknamed Snowflake, Mike and Nathan Elliot. All were fellow Oklahomans. I had come to know Barbra the best as we had had several wonderful conversations. I immediately noticed that she had a striking resemblance to Televangelist Joyce Meyers. When I told her that, she told me that she had been told that often and took it as a compliment. I revealed to her that I too am a fan of Joyce and that she had been a blessing in my life.
I found Barbra to be an inspiration to be around. This lady loves the Lord, loves the Nicaraguan people and she absolutely loves to witness for Christ. You could not talk with her and not be blessed and inspired. She has a clown ministry using magic as a tool to share Christ. Very talented and full of excitement I got to see some of her tricks at the morning worship, each one designed to spread the Gospel of Christ. I was told by others that she had been enormously successful in the classrooms having led many children to Jesus. I found her to be a delight and I was a bit sorry that I had not been on her team. She was always witnessing. As we walked to eat each night or as we gathered to leave the motel in the morning she would pass out coins that were in Spanish. One side had John 3: 16 and the other side in Spanish a sinner’s prayer. Needless to say Barbra, Snowflake was a real treat for those of us there.
Our last morning at the Church was again full of prayer, singing and testimonies. Nate gave us a dynamic preaching service and all of us left anxious to make this last day a day for rejoicing. Though weary and worn from the heat and humidity we were all a bit sad that this was the last day of the Crusade. I had really grown to be fond of the Nicaraguan Pastors and with help from both Francisco and Violet I had had opportunity to visit one on one with most of them. We had three young women 20’s or younger who had been a wonder and an inspiration as well. One young man who spoke some English and said he was twenty shared often with me at breaks in the day and he and I shared emails. Anthony was selected by Nathan to receive one of the study Bibles we had brought with us for his determined service. He deserved it without a doubt. Three young women also received special recognition for the efforts and Bibles. I only wish we would have had enough for every one of them because they deserved it, but they will all receive their reward one day in heaven. They were truly an inspiration to me.
We began our last day of the crusade like we had every day since Tuesday in the schools. We started in a good sized school where we first went into a classroom full of kindergarteners. Melody had them gather in a semicircle and then she sat down in one of their tiny chairs and spoke to them about Jesus. Too young to really approach about salvation she gave them the story of Jesus on a level they could understand. After giving them their candy we left having been blessed by their sweet presence. We also presented the gospel to two other classes that were older. I had one class of high school age boys and girls. As I was presenting the cube I noticed that a boy directly in front of me kept looking back at several other boys. There is a place in the Evanga-cube presentation where you are beginning to ask them to choose between heaven and hell. I asked the class who would like to go to heaven. All raised their hands except six boys. The boy in front of me and the boys he had been looking at. Recognizing that they were being led by the boy up front I looked directly at him and told him and speaking to them all, “So you want to go to hell, do you. Well you certainly do have that choice because we all individually choose which destiny we will have for eternity. But before you choose hell let me tell you a little about it.” I then proceeded to explain that hell was a dark, lonely miserable place where each person there would spend forever remembering each time they rejected God, where there was intense suffering and pain and where there is no presence of God or anything good ever again. I reminded them that they could choose that if they wanted but there were no second chances.
I then prayed the sinner’s prayer after asking each one there to pray from their heart if they choose to believe Christ died and rose again for them and because they wanted him as Savior. When done I asked how many had received Christ and every hand raised, including all of the boys who had earlier refused. Later I was told that each of those boys had definitely prayed. Sometimes winning a heart to Christ requires a firm reminder of what the alternative to receiving Christ is. Maybe I scared them into receiving Christ but I’d rather do that than let them go to hell because I wasn’t willing to make them uncomfortable.
We left that school and went to another where we spoke to three classes with our different groups, many children asking god for salvation and then we went back to our vans for lunch. Another class would be coming in after lunch. While we were waiting I was talking to one of Nicaraguan’s at my side when I turned to look forward a young Nicaraguan boy was there holding what looked like a giant grasshopper only inches from my face. I instinctively jumped backwards which gave all of the surrounding Nicaraguan pastors and young people around me a big laugh. They really thought it was funny that I had thought it was real and was startled by it. I laughed with them and then took the realistic looking creature in my hand. Young boys make them from palm leaves and sell them for whatever they can get. I paid him several Cordova, Nicaraguan money, each Cordova being worth an American nickel.
After lunch we held a service for all of the afternoon classes outside. Brent preached and many gave their hearts to Christ. After distributing the goodies we got into our vans and went to one of the Nicaraguan’s Churches. It was by Nicaraguan standards a fairly new and nice church. We at first moved all of the wooden pews outside on the stone patio while the churches young men sat up their sound system, drums and keyboard. All of which were above average. A young twenty something man began singing with the Pastors wife singing harmony. Wow! Is all I can say? Could they ever sing and play. The keyboard guy was great and the man singing had a beautiful voice that blew us all away. They weren’t finished with the second song when the first raindrops began. Everyone began moving the wooden pew indoors as well as the musical equipment. We had just gotten everything inside when the bottom dropped out and the rain began coming down in sheets. The metal roof with no attic or insulation to provide sound proofing made hearing quite difficult. The church was packed with standing room only. The young Nicaraguan’s graciously allowed us the last seats and they stood throughout.
Once inside and when everything was re-hooked up the singing began again and even with the rain the church filled with singing voices and music. The young man sang several more songs and even with the noise from the roof I was blessed and I believe most others were too. Finally Nate began preaching the Gospel and Francisco hollered out the interpretation so that it could be heard above the rain noise. Nate preached his heart out and when the invitation was given hands were raised throughout the church as many received Christ. It turned out to be a fantastic ending to the Crusade.
We returned to the base church and separated the remaining rice, candy, tracts and pens so that each pastor represented could take them for their individual ministries. We went in for our last service where we had additional testimonies from Americans and Nicaraguan’s alike. I couldn’t help but add my testimony. I got up and told the entire group as Francisco interpreted how I had come to Nicaragua hoping to be a blessing to them but that I was leaving Nicaragua with a new appreciation and love for the Nicaraguan people and it was I who had been blessed. I praised both the pastors and young people alike for their dedication and hard work, expressing special appreciation for some of the young people who accompanied us.
The meeting ended with many handshakes and hugs as we said our goodbyes. The memories are many, with friendships anew and many souls to praise God for and prayers for each that they will grow in Christ. Finally we loaded up in our vans waved goodbye for the last time and went back to the motel.
This day had one last surprise as many of us went to “Terry’s” café’ where we had shared most of our meals all week. As we sat there being served American foods and ice made from purified water Barbra asked if anyone had witnessed to the young man who had waited on us all week. After attempting to talk to him in English Arturo Coronado took over and after a couple of interruptions the young man and Art slipped off into another room and Arturo led him to the Lord. Our last convert there in Jinotepe.
Day 8 & 9: Nicaraguan Mission Trip Friday & Saturday
06-22-2012 & 06-23-2012
Our Crusade complete we all got up early ate our last breakfast at the motel, piled into the two vans and began our trip back to Masaya, Nicaragua where Nate and Melody had rented their apartment and where we would spend our last night in Nicaragua before returning home Saturday. We left Jinotepe by a different route than we had come there as Nathan wanted us to see the extinct volcano just south of Maysaya, I believe its called Mombacho. We arrived at a small plaza surrounded by restaurants and vendors selling all kinds of Nicaraguan goods. The overlook of the crater gave you an awesome sight of the Crater Lake and the beautiful Nicaraguan countryside. We rested there enjoying a break and an opportunity to take in the God created beauty of this Country. Art Coronado who is ever ready to share Christ led a cleaning lady to the Lord. After which we all did some shopping at the crater shops and then we headed for the Maysaya market where we could shop for other souvenirs and enjoy more of the Nicaraguan culture.
I didn’t have much to buy but I did find some clothes for my granddaughters and some cool magnetic volcanic rocks for my grandson, Aaron. We walked way back into the market where there were vendors selling fresh meat, chicken, pork, etc. The meat was sitting out in the heat and flies were everywhere, not a very appetizing setting and it makes you wonder how many die there every day from food poisoning.
We worked our way outside where Nathan Durant and Arturo Coronado were looking at some Spanish music CD’s and DVD’s. As we were standing there Mike, one of the business men from the Oklahoma group came up and started talking with Matt Marshall and I. A young man of about 13 came up making the flowers out of palm leaves that we had become accustomed to seeing throughout the area we had worked. Another young man came up maybe a year or two younger as well. Mike had a small Evanga-cube and he began showing it to the boys. They could not understand English and we had none of our interpreters because they’d gone home so we were limited in communication but it was obvious that the boys were curious.
Art finished his business and then came over. Mike encouraged him to show it to the boys. Arturo in his wonderful way quickly had both boys full attention as he presented the Gospel with the cube. Both of these boys prayed to ask Jesus to be their Savior and all of us were rejoicing. Someone mentioned that there was a place to buy ice cream close by so I had the boys follow me and I bought each of them an ice cream cone.
Well that stirred up some attention and soon we had five more boys from about 12 to 15 come over to see what we were doing. Arturo soon was showing them the cube and it wasn’t long before all five of those boys had received Christ. Needless to say we were all excited and happy thanking God for His guiding them to us. I bought each boy an ice cream cone, receiving numerous more palm leaf flowers and soon we were on our way. The cones cost 15 Cordova, Nicaraguan money or about 75 cents American. These boys make only a few Cordova for each flower they make so I doubt they get to spend much on ice cream themselves. It was a real blessing to have been able to treat those young men knowing that they would be in heaven one day.
We left the market and went into Maysaya to rent our rooms for the night. I must admit that we were all riding high having experienced God working His miracles in the hearts of those young men. Thank God Art was there to have been able to present the Gospel for them. Probably the most frustrating thing about our Nicaraguan visit and I heard this from all of the English only Oklahoman and Texans alike was the language barrier. I regret having not learned Spanish a long time ago.
At the motel Nathan Durant booked our rooms, one with six beds for Matt, Mike, Nathan Elliot and I to share. Matt is Pastor of a mostly Spanish speaking church in Weslaco, Texas and Mike and Nathan are businessmen in Oklahoma. We who are all married were bachelors’ on this trip. I had spent little time with either Mike or Nathan as they had been on Arts team. What a great couple of guys they turned out to be. After we moved into our rooms all of us went to a local Nicaraguan native buffet restaurant to eat. I must admit that it made me nervous to eat there after having seen the food displayed at the market but I did eat, hoping I would not get sick. As it turned out I did not get sick but later that night Nathan Elliot did and the next day poor Mike got real sick going home. Barbra or Snowflake got so sick that when we got back to the motel Nathan Durant asked if she could lie down in our room. It turned out that she got progressively worse and Nate feared she might have the flu so he asked us to move. Since Like Elijah Ministries did not have it in their budget for another room Nathan Elliot was gracious and kind enough to pick up the tab for that room. Matthew and I were very nearly broke so it was a help to us for sure. I made up for it a little that night when I was able to share with Nathan some Imodium I’d brought with me. Happily I’d not needed it and was more than happy to pass it on to a very sick brother. Poor Snowflake had to stay in the room and we were unable to say Goodbye. I would like to add that it had been a pleasure meeting and getting to know the Oklahomans.
That evening as the rest planned to eat pizza Matt and I both still full from lunch decided not to join them. Our interpreter Francisco, now a great friend brought his lovely wife and their three daughters and one who was like an adopted daughter. Emily was his oldest and as we sat there talking I couldn’t help but look at her remembering the story Francisco had told me about her. His wife had gotten pregnant with Emily before they married and his wife’s family all insisted that she have an abortion. She and Francisco fought all of their efforts to abort and had her anyway. Now I was sitting there looking at a beautiful young girl about 14 or 15 who had brought such joy to their lives. He had related to me how much he loved his family and how precious his girls were to him. Looking at her I wondered how anyone who could see this beautiful child could ever want to abort another unborn child. I thanked God under my breath.
Just before everyone left to go eat pizza Matt and I were talking when a young woman about mid-thirties approached. She began speaking in fairly good English to Matt, I think curious about all of us Americanos. Matt, who is ever ready to share Christ, began talking with her. He told her that he had the key to going to heaven if she would allow him to tell her. Her eyes lit up and she told him that she definitely wanted to know but that she had something she had to do first. She assured us that she would be back to listen to what Matt had to say. We told her that we’d be sitting out front waiting for her.
Matt and I sat out there talking and everyone else left to eat. It was at least an hour and we had not seen her so we feared that she had changed her mind. To the right of the motel was a housing area. We looked up to see her friend waving for Matt and I to come over. We followed her to the second house where we were escorted into the home of the English speaking Nicaraguan lady. Her home was the nicest by far that I had seen since coming to Nicaragua. We were welcomed into her living room, nice by the standards I’d seen. The floors were concrete and the windows had shutters unlike any I had seen. She had a kitchen with cabinets and her home was very clean. Matt and I sat on her couch and she, Ana and her friend Rosaria sat on a love seat across from us. Ana had gotten her 79 year old mother, Cecilia to join us as well and she sat in a chair to our right. As we were getting to know each other Rosaria left long enough to get a small rotating fan. She very unselfishly placed the fan so that it hit Matt and me only. Matt moved the fan as we talked so that it hit them as well but Rosaria eventually moved it back on us. These ladies were gracious host.
We spent some time exchanging information about ourselves. We learned that her mother has brain cancer and that she Ana also had a cancer although I never quite understood what kind. Her friend Rosaria had health issues as well. Matt promised that we would pray for Gods healing for each of them before we left but that first we wanted to share Jesus with them. Ana, our host and the only one that spoke or understood English would get this beautiful look on her face when we would say something that really thrilled her, she couldn’t hide her excitement. She knew that we were there to share something special with them. Matt or I would talk to Ana in English and then she would repeat it in Spanish for her mom and friend.
Matt began telling them the Gospel story. Both her mom and friend were listening to every word as was Ana. Matt explained how we had come to Nicaragua to share what Jesus had done that each of them might have eternal life. You could see that Ana hung to every word that was said and then she would relay it in her excited way, almost like a kid excited as they open presents. Everything we related to her was accepted with pure joy. Sometimes she would say, “are you sure or that’s wonderful” or something like that and then she’d quickly and joyfully pass it on to the others. Sometimes we’d see a slight smile on her mom’s or friends faces as she told them.
Finally Matt reached the point where he asked them if they’d like to receive Jesus as their Savior. He had just relayed to them how Jesus wanted to have a personal relationship with each of them. Ana, had pointed to herself and said ,”Me” to which Matt said yes and she looked overwhelmed that Jesus would want to have a relationship with her. Matt asked me to pray the sinner’s prayer. As I prayed and Ana would repeat in Spanish for the others and though I did not hear the others Matt said he saw both praying. When they had finished I told Ana that they were each now a daughter of God and that their names had been written into the Lambs Book of Life where no one could ever remove it and that each would spend eternity with Jesus. Ana seemed almost giddy as she was overwhelmed by what had just happened. Although much more reserved both Cecilia and Rosaria were also smiling.
Matt and I then prayed and lay hands on each of the women asking Jesus to heal their sickness and that Gods ultimate will be done in their lives. We encouraged each one to find a Bible preaching Church, read their Bibles and pray to God. We both encouraged them to share the salvation message with all they loved. We left their home feeling like blessed men for having had this wonderful opportunity to share God’s glorious Gospel with these three precious ladies. Matt and I were high fiving and thanking God as we walked to the motel. The only negative thing was when her son came by while we were talking and relayed to us that he was Mormon. He did not stay to listen to us but perhaps it was better than if he’d stayed and tried to counter the Gospel message with the Mormon one. We can only hope that the Gospel will reach him, maybe through his mom.
After a mostly sleepless night as poor Nathan Elliot spent some difficult hours in the bathroom and because both he and Mike had to leave by 3:30am to go to the airport to catch an early flight it became a long night. We packed up and headed to the airport in Managua for our 10:45 am flight back to Houston, Texas. I happened to sit next to a young woman named Donna who sat with a 14 year old girl who she described as a daughter of a friend on her first ever mission trip. Donna and her husband had been coming to Nicaragua for eleven years as missionaries. We exchanged stories as to what we’d both been doing. I told her that it was my first trip to Nicaragua and that I had come to be a part of the “Like Elijah Ministries” the ministry of Nathan and Melody Durant’s Crusade for Christ. She was part of “Voice for Hope” Ministries of Mike Hulsey headquartered in Leon, Nicaragua. She was absolutely elated when I told her that in the week of our Crusade had seen 4,300+ profession of faith in Christ. They had seen about 1,600. She shared with me something peculiar. She told me that she was excited to meet another missionary group that came to Nicaragua to win the lost to Christ. She told me that most of the missionaries come to build things, do medical or some other nice thing but that many come and do these things never sharing the Gospel of salvation with the people. We had a wonderful time praising God for His many blessings and for those souls saved. The young girl shared her experiences and the fact that she had used the Evanga-cube to lead her first two souls to Christ.
We finally landed in Houston and after the usual delays of customs we began our trip back to the valley. I got home and into bed that night at 1:30am but I went to bed thanking God for His allowing me a chance to share in the wonder of that trip. Thanks to Nate and Melody for encouraging me to come and thanks to all by brothers and sisters both American and Nicaraguans for their hard work and dedication to the cause of Christ. All in all I can only hope that some who read this might be inspired to leave their comfort zone and find out what a blessing it is to share Christ Jesus with a lost world.
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More Blogs by Danny J Johnson SR
Nicaragua Missionary Experience - Monday, September 10, 2012