Those who are new to BCBC ask how we became involved with the people of Bethel, Nicaragua? And, what are our goals for traveling to that country several times each year? Pastor Tommy answers those questions here.
How did Bent Creek Baptist get started in Nicaragua?
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch lingered off the coast of Nicaragua for days producing intense winds and torrential rain on the country. The rain caused widespread flooding and killing mudslides, As a result, there were 4000 deaths, 7000 missing and 1,000,000 refuges.
Val Mydske (a former Bent Creek member who has moved to Florida) began traveling to Nicaragua to help with relief efforts. She initiated a relationship with 140 refuge families near the city of Chichigalpa who were living in houses that were literally throw together with whatever plastic and sticks they could find. The initial relief focus was on building block homes for the families in the village of Bethel, as well as assisting the church there to reach out and strengthen the Christians in the village. After a little more than 5 years, every family in the village had a solid block house!
What is the BCBC outreach in Nicaragua like today?
1) Meet medical needs
We want to provide resources to help with the general medical needs of the families in Bethel and surrounding villages. Though “Vision Nicaragua,” we help support Doctor Michael who provides medical care.
In addition to the general medical needs, there is a special medical need in Western Nicaragua. Many of the men work in the surrounding sugar cane fields. They are exposed to pesticides, and tragically a number of these men find that they are slowly dying of kidney failure. When they eventually get too sick to work they are let go from their job and returned home to die within a few short years. These sick men range in age from the mid 20s to the 50s. The families of the sick men (about 47 men in Bethel) are sponsored by friends like you in the U.S. with a small food and medicine allowance.
2) Support widows
Many women and families are left without husbands and fathers due to the men dying from the kidney disease. These widows are also are sponsored by folks here in the U.S. to help provide food for their families.
3) Educate children
A significant impact that we can have on the children is to provide them with a decent education so that they have opportunities for employment outside the cane fields. Individuals at BCBC sponsor students to get their high school education. The cost is $15/month.
4) Participate in outreach
We enjoy working alongside a pastor in Nicaragua to reach out to surrounding villages. It may involve taking much needed food (rice and beans) to a village or conducting a “medical clinic” in a village. Our desire is to help Nicaraguans understand the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done!
5) Serve in discipleship
Because we’ve been in this part of Nicaragua all these years, we have developed deep relationships with many of the young people. We enjoy helping them grow and mature in their Christian faith so they in turn can disciple others.
How you can get more involved
1) Pray: Pray for our teams that go to Nicaragua!
2) Give what you can: We have individuals and families in the village who still need sponsorship. Consider financially sponsoring one of the students, widows or sick men! More on this is at Lauren Parham’s page on the Vision Nicaragua website.
3) Go to Nicaragua: Many of you would enjoy participating in one of the short term trips. Going also allows you to gain insight into God’s heart for the world and to develop cross-cultural relationships even if you don’t speak Spanish!
Off to Nicaragua With Joyful Anticipation
Members of Bent Creek Baptist from their latest mission to Nicaragua. The history of our commitment to this mission program and highlights from the latest trip are presented here.
Scripture tells us that the natural man never seeks the will of God or the ways of God. Fortunately for us our Lord is proactive.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
We are blessed to have so many people in our congregation who are willing to take time from their busy lives to do his will by supporting and sharing the gifts of the Lord with our friends in Nicaragua.
During the barbeque fundraiser on Sunday prior to departure it was clear that those leaving for Nicaragua look forward to their mission with joyful anticipation. As the Lord said…
So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:18)
If you feel moved to support this mission please go to Lauren Parham’s page on the Vision Nicaragua website to contribute.
Daily updates from the July Nicaragua mission trip are presented here.
- Greetings from Nicaragua: July 2nd. — Arriving in Bethel after a long day or travel
- Greetings from Nicaragua: July 3rd. — A busy day for fellowship and recreation
- Greetings from Nicaragua: July 4th. — Thanks to our missionaries from the women of Bethel
- Greetings from Doug Van Wirt in Nicaragua: July 5th — Sharing the Gospel with a message of hope
- Greetings from Nicaragua: July 6, 7, and 8th: — Fellowship and teaching at a retreat center in the mountains past Matagalpa
- Greetings from Nicaragua: July 9th — Baptism and picnic on the beach at Corinto
- Hasta la vista to Nicaragua: July 10th — Goodbye my friend
Greetings from Nicaragua: July 2nd
Doug sent photos from Nicaragua. Here are two from the first day.
Everyone appears exhausted. But Pastor Tommy might be convinced to play Twister.
Not sure where this photo was taken, but it’s good to know that Pastor Graham can be found worldwide.
Greetings from Nicaragua: July 3rd
Thursday was a busy day for recreation and fellowship. (Click the photos to enlarge them and create a slide show.)
Driving the dirt road, but further along is construction… with pavers? What’s that all about?
Passing a village.
Time to have fun on a volcano.
But first fellowship and praise.
There appear to be two ways to get down the mountain. Hiking (sliding)…
Greetings from Nicaragua: July 4th
More photos thanks to Doug. (Click the photos to enlarge and create a slide show.)
It looks like somebody threw a party.
Later, women of the village thanked our missionaries for their time and commitment. Be patient, the two links below may take some time to download, but they are worth it.
Greetings from Doug Van Wirt in Nicaragua: July 5th
Doug sent this email today.
Today we again got up at 6:30 am for devotions. After personal time, we all got together in a circle of chairs and had a very good discussion.
The focus was on Psalm 34. Lots of good stuff there and a great discussion.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17)
I found that the water heater had tripped off again. Rats. I’ll have to find a time later after a meal to work on it.
Later this morning, we held an event for the men in Bethel who are suffering from illness. I estimate that about 35 men participated. We served juice and cake. We then had a worship song time. We sang a new modern worship song in Spanish. We then sang one I know: “We Worship You”, a song we sing at our church in Asheville, yet to Spanish lyrics today.
I gave a testimony about how we can have joy and contentment even when times are difficult. Everyone has problems, but we can trust in the Lord, as our joy comes from Him and loving Him.
Pastor Tommy shared the Gospel along with a message of hope; that we do not have to fear of God, but be reverent towards Him. That’s because God took his wrath out on Jesus because of our sins, so that he would not have to take his wrath out on us. Jesus bore our sins on the cross.
Afterwards, we had a party with a piñata in the shape of a bell. The men were blindfolded, and took turns attempting to break it open with a bat. It was hilarious! (Click the link below, and be patient while it loads. It’s worth the wait.)
After that, we had several rounds of musical chairs.
We were pleased that the men who are ill enjoyed the fellowship today.
After lunch, I went with Juan Carlos in the small pick up truck to Chinandega. We looked for a large print Bible for Julia, some fluorescent tubes that were broken by a soccer ball yesterday, and a faucet for the sink. It took most of the afternoon, but we were successful in finding the fluorescent tubes, and the large print Bible. We could not find the faucet. It’s a commercial type, with a different orientation than most faucets.
Tonight, I replaced a burned wire on the water heater, but I doubt if that fixes the trip problem. We will find out tomorrow.
Tomorrow we leave after lunch for the youth retreat to the city of Montigalpa. I understand it’s in the mountains, and it will be much cooler. We will be there three days, returning Tuesday afternoon.
I probably won’t have Wi-Fi access, and won’t be able to send a report for a few days.
Thank you for praying, especially for the youth retreat coming up.
Greetings from Nicaragua: July 6, 7, and 8th
More news from Doug:
We got back a few hours ago from the mountains in central Nicaragua. We took 23 young people from the village of Bethel to a retreat center about an hour up the mountains past the city of Matagalpa.
I took this photo just before we left, so I’m not in it. (Click photos to enlarge them and make a slide show.)
We chartered a 48 passenger Blue Bird bus for the 3 days.
It was a three hour haul. About 2 1/2 on paved roads, and a half hour on very rugged dirt roads.
The climate was very different. It was about 20° cooler, and the plant life was similar to what we had when I lived in Louisiana. They even had Spanish Moss hanging from the tree limbs.
We stayed in bunk beds, at a facility a bit more rustic than our mission center.
There were very good worship and teaching times.
Here, Lyndsey Parham is teaching the youth.
The next day, Lauren taught about the Navigators Wheel and growing in Christ.
And Pastor Tommy taught on forgiveness of sin.
Of course, we had a lot of fun times too. We went to a park and had an interesting hike and swinging time.
Here’s a photo of Manuel and me.
The scenery is beautiful, and some of the sunsets are awesome.
We woke up to a cloudy day, with rain and a windstorm most of last night into the early morning.
We came back to the very warm mission center this evening. Mario took the youth back to Bethel in the truck. We told them we would see them tomorrow as we plan to go to the beach, which is only about a half hour away.
Tonight after dinner, our American team went out for ice cream in the city of Chinandega.
It was a great retreat. A good mix of relationships and teaching. Very practical from a Christian perspective.
Hasta mañana. Buenas noches. See you tomorrow and good night.
Doug Van Wirt
Greetings from Nicaragua: July 9th
Hi from Doug:
This morning, we slept in a little bit longer than usual. We had our devotions individually and then met together for discussion. (Click photos to enlarge and make a slide show.)
After devotions, I spent time with Juan Carlos. He’s very intelligent and talented. He was my project manager in Nicaragua during construction of the mission center seven years ago. He is also the soccer coach for the youth of Bethel.
Since the new transfer switch has not been passed through customs, he’ll install it next week.
After lunch, we headed off to the beach in a town called Corinto, about 40 minutes away.
We found a covered cabana to use for a small fee.
One of the first things we did was to baptize Massiel who is from Bethel and a good friend of Lauren. Massiel wanted to wait until Pastor Tommy came to be baptized.
We first gathered in a circle and prayed.
Then Tommy, Lauren, and Massiel waded out about 75 yards into the surf for the baptism.
Massiel was ready with a big smile.
Hold your nose!
Tommy baptized her with Lauren assisting.
We spent an hour or so in the surf or playing soccer on the beach. Whitley, one of our team members, even became a mermaid!
Lunch was fried chicken and Coca-Cola we purchased along the way. There was just enough for everyone.
As we finished, the sun was setting on the ocean, and we departed for the mission center.
Sadly, tonight is the last night we’re spending at the mission center. Tomorrow after lunch we will travel to Managua to spend the night at the Best Western across from the airport.
Thanks so much for praying.
Doug Van Wirt
Our Missionaries Return From Nicaragua This Sunday
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:15)
The 2-week BCBC mission to Bethel was a busy time of fellowship, recreation, and sharing the message of hope through the Gospel. There was teaching at a retreat center in the mountains past Matagalpa, and even a baptism on the beach at Corinto, Nicaragua.
Please join us during the worship service this Sunday (July 13th, 11 am) when our missionaries who have returned from Nicaragua will share their thoughts and feelings.
Hasta la vista to Nicaragua: July 10th
Here’s the last email from Doug:
This morning after breakfast, we packed our bags and had our final “team time” at the mission center. Some talked about the special things God had done in and through us during this mission trip.
I put my handprint on the wall at the mission center as others had done before me.
Afterwards we had a some free time, and then headed off to the village of Bethel to say our goodbyes.
I had one of the three sets of guitar strings I had brought for the local worship leaders. This was my last opportunity to find someone to give it to. I wanted to connect with a young man named Alex. Over the last several years, I had helped him with shoes and other school-related items. His younger sister Jessica went on the youth retreat with us this trip.
As I was walking with Carlos our translator, I was approached by another man in the village. He reminded me that two years ago I had given him guitar strings. He is actively playing the guitar for some outlying church services and asked if I had any guitar strings. He was amazed when I whipped them out of my backpack!
We found Alex, his mother Mary Lou, and Jessica along the road talking. They were speaking with Pastor Tommy and Lynn. It was good to see them again, and to take a few photos with them (sorry, it was on another camera).
A new feature in the village of Bethel is a wall around the school and church. The school received a grant for improvements and the residents chose to build a security wall. It grieved me to see bars in front of the church, as many of the Christians in Bethel do not go to the local church as much as they once did.
We returned to the mission center, finished packing, and then got on the bus for Managua. A few of the kids went to the airport with us.
Halfway to Managua, we stopped in the city of Leon to shop for souvenirs. I got a pretty necklace for Jessica, Alex’s sister who is 13 or 14 years old. She’s one of those kids that you want to adopt and bring back with you.
We continued on to Managua to the airport hotel.
There were many tearful hugs and goodbyes. It has been a wonderful opportunity for building relationships and discipleship for the young people of Bethel..
All of us have good friends that we are leaving.
After the bus left, we checked into our rooms and then had dinner together in the hotel.
The plane leaves on Friday, so we’ll be back in the United States tomorrow.
Thanks again for praying.