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Nicaragua One-Day Pastor Conference

Time is really different in Nicaragua, which is one of the things that really got under my skin when I starting visiting the country in 2008. If you say something is supposed to start at 9:00am, people will arrive sometime between 9:30am and 10:00am. So in the eight years I traveled to Nicaragua, I have never seen a Nicaraguan person arrive early, to anything…ever. That was until this particular morning.

The Pastor’s Conference was set to begin at 9:00am, which in Nicaragua time meant 9:30am at best. And then it happened; the first two pastors arrived at 7:15am! By 8:30am every pastor was accounted for and eagerly awaiting for the teaching to begin. The pastors were early and hungry for the Word of God! One pastor had traveled 19 hours by bus (540 kilometers) for this one day of teaching.

All 27 pastors were locked and loaded, so I began our study of Soteriology (the study of salvation) at 9:00am sharp. I used Romans 8:28-30 as the foundation of God’s side of salvation. We began in Ezekiel 36-37 to see how salvation is a supernatural work of God, that He does first and foremost for His name sake and glory, rather than first and foremost for our good. Therefore the gospel is radically God-centered, not man-centered, which is why God deserves all praise and glory for our salvation.

Next we explored God’s unbreakable chain from Romans 8 (foreknowledge-predestination-calling-justification-glorification), and worked through each word, link-by-link, before seeing how the whole chain linked together to compete the promise “all things work together for good for those who love God.”

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These pastors had not been exposed to a God-centered view of salvation, so at first they were very skeptical about concepts such as foreknowledge, unconditional election, and predestination. However, as they began to see that the Bible presents all these concepts as positive (ensuring the most people are saved) and God-honoring (ensuring that God gets the most glory), they began to see the beauty of God’s unbreakable chain.

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As we wrapped up the day, these men left with a deeper understanding of their own salvation, and the salvation they preach to their people week-in and week-out. They left humbled under the truth that God had chosen them before the foundation of the world, and they left praising God for His glorious grace. The also left more passionate about sharing the Gospel with as many people as possible, because the same God who had called them to fish, is the same God who guarantees them a catch!

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Rancho Santana, Nicaragua

During my two day break between leading a week long mission team of 28, and a one day pastor conference for 27, I got the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful places in Nicaragua (and probably the world), Rancho Santana. These pictures do not do justice for how incredible this place really was, but here you go anyways. Rancho Santana has five pristine beaches and some of the best surfing in the world.

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The Highways and the Byways

“And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.’” (Luke 14:23)

The story I’m about to tell you was seen through many eyes; mine only catching the end. Our mission team began the day delivering food boxes in five teams made up of five or six people each. The church members at Immanuel Baptist had already scouted out the houses, so all we had to do is knock and hope for an answer. We spent around an hour with each family; we shared stories, food, and most importantly, we shared the Gospel.

One group encountered sudden disappointment. The houses they were suppose to deliver boxes to were closer than they anticipated, so their adventure ended early. This meant they saw less of San Judas, Nicaragua than they had envisioned. So with hanging heads, they returned to the church and waited for the other groups to arrive, unaware what God was about to do through them.

Around the corner sat the town drunk, who on this day was welcomed with love and compassion, an unusual change of pace for him. As the group reached out to him, they invited him to come to church, not sure if he could stumble his way there if he wanted to. Across the street stood a woman, who lived less than 20 yards from the church, who was meet with the same love and compassion. The group invited her to come to church as well.

Fast forward to 6:30pm…service begins and the gospel is preached. Sinners are invited to come and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And at that moment, the town drunk stood up and walked to the back of the sanctuary, got a drink of water out of the barrel by the bathroom, then turned around and began down the aisle to receive Jesus, and through Jesus a place in the Kingdom to come. Behind him came the woman from earlier, it was her first time in church, and she too repented and believed the Gospel.

In the parable in Luke 14, those who are invited (the respectable guest) make excuses and refuse to come to the banquet. So the master tells his servants to go out to the highways and byways and invite people who were not originally on the guest list; to invite those who are not so clean and respectable.

So on Sunday afternoon in Nicaragua, our teams went to the highways and byways to invite the outcast and sinners, and to our surprise, they came. But they didn’t just come to the feast, they came to Master, and in Him they found the true feast they had been looking for their whole lives.