This weekend we visited La Quesera, a village outside Ciudad Darío. The road was an adventure to say the least, but well worth it. When the rocky road ended, an inhabited location opened up at the foot of a cliff. Before taking off, I had read Jesus’ parable of the heart’s different soils to receive the message of the kingdom of heaven. Reaching the place we realized a lot of the houses were empty due to the villagers being out, harvesting beans. But those who were at home received us with great joy, asked for prayer and demanded that we soon would come back.
To serve God together with young people is a privilege I will never stop marveling at. It is a true pleasure to work with the students in the Mission’s School, extending the kingdom of God. Their zeal and passion inspire me to believe in true change and great achievements.
Back to the parable, it is one thing to try to determine where it is appropriate to scatter one’s seeds – but how do you actually do to cultivate your own heart’s soil? How do I keep my heart open to God? There are probably a thousand answers to such questions, but something I’ve learned to maintain the heart soft is the need to surround myself with the right company: God himself, people with a passion for God and people in need of God. This weekend I was in very good company.
Boy in La Quesera
We are in the midst of a new stage with The Mission’s School. Change is exciting, not always pleasant, but when the processes starts rolling, it also becomes clear that it’s a necessity to be able to explore new areas.
Now we have lessons with two groups, one for beginners and one for veterans. I am pleased to see the enthusiasm of our new students and the devotion of the students who choose to take on something new with us and continue to develop in their ministries.
Change is necessary to be able to receive more blessing. We prepare ourselves as best we can and know that with God’s grace, this can turn into something really awesome.
And yes, I am a blessed woman. Like yesterday when wonderful company was topped up with the neighbor surprising us with buñuelos. And in realizing that I had had cravings for precisely those deep-fried pastries (a desire I had not even cared to mention for it to be fulfilled) once more I got the confirmation that I have a Dad who knows his daughter and has a sense for the details that’ll make a regular rainy Monday night feeling like something out of the ordinary.
In writing this, I enjoy the sound of an answer to prayer – rain. Ever since I came back to Nicaragua, everyday topic of conversation has been how dry and hot it is. And it is true, never have I spent so warm August and September days in Nicaragua so my guess is that many now have received answers to their prayers.
We have just started a new school year and have received four girls from the mission’s course Testa Mission who will be here with us for nine months and develop in their faith with God and with us. In the mission’s school, they also have lessons and some practice with ten students from various congregations in Darío. It has been an intense but enjoyable start of the semester, and we look forward to a blessed time together.
For our Swedish students there are a lot of things that are new and surprising when it comes to getting to know a new culture. And positive surprises are usually welcome surprises. I was in Managua to meet with a lawyer to renew my Nicaraguan residency. On the way there I ended up in conversations about mission with my taxi driver who is also the leader of a Christian congregation. Before I got dropped off, he shuts off the engine and prays a powerful prayer of blessing over me and over my ministry. Not only did the taxi journey included prayer; when I got off, I hardly payed anything for the trip.
Solomon says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12 [NIV]). Hope goes hand in hand with faith. So whether we are waiting for the rain or other life events, the art of knowing what is within one’s control to arrange and what we with full confidence will need to submit to God to take care of in the right way and at the right time, applies. Beyond that, I never cease to be fascinated by how He in His great mercy always manages to amaze us with the gifts we have not even asked for.
Rain or sunshine – an umbrella is always useful.
A few days into the new year, I received a message on Facebook from a woman I did not know. She had seen a photo of me and recognized me from a hospital visit we did at the regional hospital with the class of last year. Me and one of the students met with a pregnant woman and her mother, whom we together prayed for. What we did not know during ministry was that the child was seriously ill and the doctors had said that if he were to survive, he would have to undergo many difficult operations. Nor did we know that they had given the older woman only a short time left to live. The words that were declared over the pregnant woman were God’s peace and that God would be like a mother and a father for her.
As she writes to me, one year and two months later she tells me, that two days after our visit, those words turned into reality in her life; her son’s heart stopped beating and the next day her mother dies. And she tells the story of how she in the midst of this terrible situation felt carried by God himself; that she did not feel pain, frustration nor resentment, but only a deep and inexplicable peace. She writes about the fulfillment of God’s promise and how she ever since has lived in peace.
And I am reminded of that the power of the word of God is not just about the most profound revelations or if the words are extraordinary but simply about saying the right words at the right time. Her story makes me realize how much of a difference a visit and a single prayer can do for those who are in hospital or in prison. For me, her testimony has become an image of God’s care and a reminder of that our words can make so much bigger difference than we often imagine.
This way I want to wish you a blessed 2015!
We made a trip that by now is a tradition and if you have done things before you would think that the experience should be a sufficient recipe for success. But sometimes things do not turn out as expected; for reasons we could not control, we arrived two hours late. In a village without electricity it turns black after sundown. When we arrived, the ones that had a long walk, already had gone home. We fought against the clock to carry out everything we set out to do. But no, we had to leave things undone. Putting a stick in the hands of children who rarely get candy for them to bust a caramel-filled papier-mâché figure is risky enough in daylight. So we chose to go home after a half-done job and even though it was pitch black, I could see the disappointment in the children’s eyes when we announced that there would no longer be a piñata. To top it all, I got a cold – sitting on the back of a truck definitely has its charms; the dust cloud that whirls up and get into one’s airways has no part in that; charm, that is.
And yes, this could be Lamentations but I have discovered something when it comes to God; nothing we do in obedience and faith is ever in vain. No matter how unsuccessful our projects may seem, if we learn to pick ourselves up, brush the dust off and move forward, it is definitely a recipe for success. Only when I learn managing loss, I am prepared to manage win.
I believe in a God that measure with other yardsticks, a God who says: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” For royal sons should not be born in mangers and not at all nailed to crosses – but in humility, even humiliation, in the seemingly largest defeat, the biggest victory is won.
We were on a mission trip to Managua this weekend to visit two of the churches where some of our Swedish students do their practice with Testa Mission a few weekends per month. We visited two neighborhoods in Managua where we went out in small groups to offer prayer and tell them about Jesus. And in Managua at the end of the rainy season with dusty winter winds, an umbrella against the blazing sunshine no longer is a good idea – an umbrella turned inside out is good for nothing. But amid the dust, urban noise, wind and scorching sun the brave students stayed out all day. The Nicaraguan students considered the Swedes a bit exaggerated but it’s hard to turn down the pace when you grew up in a country where you have to keep the momentum to keep warm in the freezing wind.
And we met many people, many of them which we prayed for. A woman I met hasn’t left my thoughts during the days that have passed – she was on her way to the bus and when we greeted her to ask if we could pray for her. She was helped by a young man who was heading towards the same bus and we soon realized she was blind from birth. But what she asked prayer for was not primarily the sight, but she wanted us to pray for her five year old daughter that she’d lost custody of 10 months earlier. We prayed for her and her daughter, we hugged and then prayed again, this time for her to get filled with the Holy Spirit and have the strength to be a mother for the son who lived with her. We then followed her to the bus stop, from where she would go to a market to sell candy, the way she made her living.
The cumulative effect of all of our efforts on Saturday is only known by God but my prayer is that whatever small things we could do for all of the least multiplies and makes the kingdom of heaven extend some, that God’s light shines in the middle of urban dust and continue to change the lives of broken people.
We celebrated the day of the Bible this weekend; 445 years ago it was translated into Spanish and I got to see a miracle happen that I have waited for, for two years – my friend who had back pain due to a fracture in a disk in the low back was completely healed and pain free in just a couple of minutes. Two days later, she danced to the glory of God like never before.
And one might ask the question; why not sooner? But I have stopped making that type of question. Instead, I want to celebrate what God is doing, regardless of when He does it.
On Sunday evening, after the conference was over, during a stripped-down prayer service, I prayed along with two of the students from Testa Mission for three boys and we had the honor to see them healed from sore throat, pain in the knee and pain and stiffness in the body.
Because what it all comes down to is this; actually I know only one thing when it comes to healing – I must do what Jesus told me to do – continue to pray for the sick until they get healed.
The Girls at the Dump
I look back with gratitude on a fine summer in Sweden; since I came back to Ciudad Darío, three intensive weeks have passed. We have received six new Swedish students who will go the mission’s course: Testa Mission
in Nicaragua during a school year and also the new Nicaraguan students who have lessons and practice together with the Swedish team. In the midst of the school start, we have also moved to a new house, which has taken a lot of energy but which has also turned out really nice.
We look forward to another exciting school year and would also like to thank the Swedish Evangelistic Mission for a continued good cooperation with Testa Mission and now also the project: 25:40 Help to Help, which works from the motto: “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me. “ Mat. 25:40 [MSG], from August this project is functioning in Ciudad Darío at a preschool and here students from Testa Mission do a part of their practice.
To love with Jesus’ love and stand up for the little ones, is something that continues to challenge me. God always sends people our way who are in need of His love. In the meeting with the small person, that’s the place where God can get big. On the dump in Ciudad Darío among children who collect plastic and metal scrap, that’s right where God can be close. Daring to love in the midst of deepest misery, that’s when the love of Jesus shows most. So I continue to believe that God is raising up beauty from ashes, that His riches overcome the world’s poverty and that eternal life begins here and now, wherever we allow God’s kingdom to break forth.
This week I have been at the National Pastors’ Conference for Nicaraguan Assemblies of God and gotten really inspired by the gumption I’ve witnessed. The denomination invests in sending out Nicaraguan missionaries internationally in a nearby future.
When I came here two years ago Nic. Assemblies of God had two missionaries out in ministry, in Peru and Uruguay. During this week’s conference, I met a woman who will go out to the UK and also missionaries who plan to travel to India. There are also plans being made for more countries. And yes, it is due time to reach beyond their national borders – the Nicaraguan Pentecostalism is celebrating 102 years and, according to approximate calculations, today 30% of the actual population belong to charismatic denominations. Just the Nic. Assemblies of God counts with 300 000 members and gathered 5,000 pastors and leaders conference during the week.
One of the dreams I’ve had since we began working here is to see how the Nicaraguan revival also reaches out to other nations. Over the years we have had the chance to see it through the Swedish students from Testa Mission returning to Sweden with fresh revival experiences and new eyes on Swedish spirituality. To also be able to see young Nicaraguans go out in international mission will be pure joy and a great blessing to our world.
Even though Nicaragua is a country that has gone through great losses in the Civil War and in its wake, material poverty that still affects the nation; one thing the Nicaraguans have discovered – Jesus and His kingdom is the greatest wealth a person can find. Christ is the desire of the nations (Hagg. 2:7 [KJV]) and our wish is that the Nicaraguan revival will reach far beyond its borders in the years to come.