identity 2012 conference
Jon, Ken and I came to Nicaragua with the primary responsibility of being involved in this conference, that has nearly been three years in the making. In early
2010, Greg Millsaps, a friend who is a missionary in the war zone which is Northern Mexico, had the idea of holding a youth pastor's retreat for Nicaraguan youth pastors. Greg had several years on the ground in Nicaragua, as it was the country where he and his family were missionaries before coming to Mexico several years before. He knew the context well, and I had been a few times on short term trips, so we both knew that there was a really large percentage of the population below 21. We also knew that this country was hard ground to try to raise a crop of hope without some encouragement. He went to work making contact with what would become the host ministry, and in the summer of 2010, we had our first event, with members on the team from the NIcaraguan host ministries, the States, and Mexico. It went well, so we followed it up with a second event in January of 2012. At that event, it was decided to open the event to the youth groups and hold it in a larger venue. This is the event we are in now.
There are youth from various parts of the country here, and I have met many young people who are excited about following Jesus. I also realized that it has been a pretty long time since I spoke at the youth meeting. 🙂
It has been really good to see these young people receive encouragement and instruction in the faith. They have also been having a really good time. I consider it a really big blessing to be involved in helping put this event on, but it has primarily been the core team of about 50 youth leaders who have done the “heavy lifting” of bringing this thing together, some of whom have been working on it daily for the past six months. Great job guys. Way to go in giving yourself for the benefit of others.
meeting old friends
One great blessing that we have had is getting to spend some time one on one with several friends we have here, and some I haven't seen in quite a while. The day after we arrived we made a day trip to Matagalpa, about two hours north of the capital city of Managua, where we flew in. Our purpose in going there was to see Victor Torrez and his family, whom were the family who showed such great hospitality to my team and I on a trip we were in country for in 201
1. Victor is a coffee farmer and showed us around his farm. It was really great to see he and his wife and girls again, and we got to see some beautiful scenery on the way up the mountain to where his coffee plants grow in the altitude of these rugged but stunning mountains.
Another great blessing was the chance to finally catch up with Demarest Downs again. The first time I traveled to Nicaragua, which I believe was in early 2006, Demarest, or “DD”, as we call him, was our translator. We spent a fair amount of time together traveling the country side over the week, and I felt a real connection with DD. Since that time I have been back to the country maybe five times, but this is the first time it has worked out for us to see each other again. DD traveled up to El Crucero yesterday by bus to see us, and we had a few hours to sit and talk. It was a real blessing, and I was so thankful to be reunited with DD.
getting to know new friends better
We also had the privilege to meet Earl Rutledge for the first time. Earl is originally from Texas (woot!) and has been living in Nicaragua for the past 19 years. A few of his children are here in the conference, and when he dropped them off we had a chance to sit down and talk for a half hour. Earl, along with two others, runs a school of supernatural life in Matagalpa, and we discussed getting by to see them when we get back here on the next rotation. I am really looking forward to being with those guys.
Leo and Charity Marroquin are hosting this event, along with the Victor Benitez, who has worked very hard and very consistently for each of these events that we have done. Leo and Charity lead a ministry here that is a blessing to so many, with children's homes here, and also on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, which, I am told, is like a different world from here. I am planning to verify those comments in person soon. They also have around forty feeding centers around the country. Here is a link to there website: New Hope Children's Foundation
What a great friend we have found in Ixil Torrez. She has been a real help to us in Central America. I am hoping that we can be an encouragement to her in the very promising future she has in the Lord's kingdom. We appreciate what the Lord has in store for her in the years ahead, and are looking for Him to make powerful and significant contributions through her around the world. Bless you Ixil!
La Roca – Jinotepe
There is hardly any way to put into words what our last meeting in Nicaragua was like, but, I will say, it was by far the most free meeting I have been in in my entire life. There is no close second finisher. I think we were all blown away with how things went. Stage diving is not something I have planned for in advance, or being tossed into the air by a rabble of fired up young people, but it happened…. and it was beyond fun, it was liberating! Ulysses, who is youth pastor at La Roca, has always made us really welcome there since the first time in 2010. He and I decided that from now on, the conference after-party is going to be at La Roca, and we will have a standing appointment there immediately following the future revisions of Identity Youth Congress. Thanks for your friendship Ulysses.
planning for the future
I would like to ask you to pray for me and the small team that is forming around FXMissions. We have very many open doors in Nicaragua, and we want to hear clearly from the Lord on how we should approach this. I am planning to spend some more time in the Matagalpa area the next time I am in country, and I would also like to get to the Miskito Coast, the Caribbean side of the country which is, I am told, like a different planet. I have never been there, though I have friends who are from there, and also know people are working in the area, including the Marroquins.
I would like to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who stood with us in prayer while we were out of country. The Lord was attentive to your requests, and by them we had durable and abundant grace. This trip has reset the bar for what we are doing in Nicaragua and Central America. We want to continue to advance from here.
Grace, peace and blessing be yours in the name of our Almighty King, Jesus Christ!