Kinda Like Living in a Bubble:
Experiencing the power of God and Joy of the Lord
in the Midst of Nationwide Unrest
It’s hard to know where to begin this blog as my mind tries to find some semblance of order. I feel inundated with thoughts and emotions of what has transpired over the past month and a half or so since my last correspondence. I guess I can begin by explaining my reason behind the title of this blog.
All around us and all over Nicaragua darkness has roamed the streets and seemingly swallowed up any trace of remembrance of peace and tranquility which began fading away on the 18th of April. For a good while now, it has not been safe to go outside at night and even during the day it isn’t the best idea to travel alone as personal security is a thing of the past. Robberies and assaults are common place and it seems that daily someone goes missing as they are often even snatched out of their own homes under the charges of conspiring against the government.
It no longer matters if you aren’t a university student, you will be considered as collateral damage, expendable, if you get in the way by holding views that are contrary to those of the regime.
President Daniel Ortega and his wife have made it clear to everyone over the last several weeks that they have no intention of respecting a dialogue with the resistance movement mediated by the Catholic church.
Actually, the Catholic church has now also been declared as another enemy of the state who can’t be trusted due to their stance against violence and deception. It just so happens that violence and deception are two favorite tools of this current regime.
We have recently exceded 450 deaths and are closing in on three thousand who have been injured during the last 3 months of this internal conflict.
Hundreds have been abducted and/or arrested with no cause other than peacefully protesting against violence/oppression. Daily there are dozens of mothers and other family members waiting to receive any information as to where their loved one is and many cases just want to know if they are even still alive.
My point is that the situation in which we are living on a national level is out of control and has been for over 3 months. On a daily basis we really don’t know what to expect but we continue to hope for the best and believe for a resolution in the not so distant future.
What we do know is that we are called to shine as beacons of light in the midst of very dark times for Nicaragua. We know that in order to remain in perfect peace in all this our minds must be stayed on Him, the Giver and Sustainer of true peace. I have learned several new things over the past 3 months about life and henceforth about myself.
Maybe these things aren’t so new, but the truth of them has been emphasized through the circumstances in which we’ve find ourselves here in Nicaragua. Perhaps the most foundational of these is that there is a constant battle waging against us and all around us vying for our attention. In this world which is so interconnected and information-oriented there are literally thousands of ways in which you could spend your time each day. The problem is that there remains only 24 hours in a day so that means that we are forced to choose what we will lay before our eyes and with what we will fill our minds and occupy our thoughts.
I learned early on in the first few weeks of this national uprising that I simply could not be reactive to what was being thrown my way each day. Each day was presenting me with new pictures of the deceased, news of the latest international reaction to what’s happening here, and constant live feeds being posted on social media from all over the country.
I felt like I was literally being bombarded on all sides with anxiety, worry, and pressure to absorb all that I could to be made completely aware of the tragic situation in which all Nicaraguans find themselves. I guess you could say that I even felt like it was in a way my responsibility to be as informed as I could be to honor all those that had been killed and/or injured as they stood against this oppressive regime.
It didn’t take me long to recognize that in living this way on a daily basis during a conflict such as this that has lasted months was causing me to live in a constant state of tension, worry, and sadness. Instead of my mind pondering the goodness of God and His love for me, I would find myself waking up and wondering what had happened the night before; if anyone had died, if there had been any more attacks or what was to be expected for the day that lie ahead.
This cycle of worry and tension didn’t last that long before I realized that I wouldn’t be able to continue on that way and still be productive in ministry. Not just that, but I needed to maintain peace and joy on a personal level.
As I still cry often for the loss of life and plight of the many families who have lost a loved one or are still clamoring for information as to their whereabouts, I now decide to lay it all before the Lord and He reminds me on a daily basis that my joy is only found in Him, not in the stability of the situation around me.
My peace is is only given to me by Him and maintained through intimate fellowship with Him on a consistent basis. Only through my total reliance on the Lord and dependence on Him for my daily spiritual sustenance can I process such great tragedy and national heartache and yet continue to smile and dance before the Lord in such personal thankfulness and joy for what He has done for me.
So I guess that kind of explains the title of this blog. Being in Christ and being loved by your Father is like living in a bubble in that the outside world, while existing and very real, is still, well . . . outside. It’s like I’ve been living in this cocoon of His love and kindness and I only realize that the majority of others around me aren’t living and experiencing this same reality when I get on social media or when I leave home to run errands and have encounters with others throughout my day.
Many ministries have practically been shut down for over 3 months in Nicaragua as well as a large quantity of missionaries and ministries depend on the short-term mission season which falls primarily between the months of May and September. Due to the instability throughout the country since April, pretty much all short term mission trips have been canceled.
This has also led to the departure of many missionaries and other ministry personnel from Nicaragua; not to mention the thousands of Nicaraguans who have fled to Costa Rica and other countries in search of stability and peace. This has left us in quite an interesting and unique situation, along with the few others who have chosen to stay behind lead by their own personal convictions.
So . . . all that to say that life for us has continued on and really, our day to day hasn’t been all that much different than before all this began back in April. School for our high schoolers has been canceled pretty much the entire time, but they still come to the Project Monday through Friday to spend their afternoons with us. Our primary school kids haven’t missed too much class at all during all this so all in all, we’ve maintained our day to day ministry activities just about as well as can be expected.
It’s been a huge blessing for me to be able to continue to provide a secure paycheck to our staff as unemployment in Nicaragua has increased significantly over these last 3 months. Providing a safe place to which everyone can come daily, eat a meal together, fellowship with one another, serve someone else and be encouraged is just what so many of them need in all of this daily chaos.
God has been moving mightily all around us and through us, maybe even more tangibly so over the last month or more. Our school year here hit summer break about a month ago, which lasts two weeks. For the 1st week of that break from school for our kids and staff we offered an “encounter week” here at our Project/our home for youth; basically a week for some selected youth from 4 different ministries to come together and experience the “more” of God in a personal way.
During this week we had a daily teaching, meditation time, prayer and worship together and really just wanted to give Holy Spirit room to do what only He can do in the lives of these young ones.
We saw many touched by the love of the Father and joy of the Lord that week and believe that some foundational steps were taken in the lives of those youth that we are praying have propelled them into a deeper intimacy with their Savior.
For me personally, it was such an interesting week having all these wonderful moments of breakthrough and emotion.
Four different ministries who all serve with the same underlying purpose of introducing others to our beautiful Jesus came together to lead these youth into a deeper relationship and dependence on our Lord; and all this while so much turmoil and sadness was happening all around us through the national unrest.
Once again, it was like living in a bubble. God was moving so mightily and so lovingly in the midst of such surrounding darkness and uncertainty.
Near the end of the week we were blessed to be able to baptize 5 of the youth and saw several set free of demonic oppression. It was a blessed time together indeed and I believe the spiritual ramifications of that week will continue to impact the lives of those who were present in ways only time can reveal.
Thank you all for your continued prayers for us and support of our heart-cry, which is to shine bright the hope and love of Jesus during this trying time.
Bless you all and I hope reading this has encouraged you in your own personal walk with Lord wherever it may have taken you!