Young Life and the Church in Nicaragua
So this post is about the state of the Gospel in Nicaragua. A very big topic to tackle, I know, but hear me out. My understanding of this issue comes directly from SuNica's experience with the protestant church at large in Nicaragua. We'd say that our organization was born out of the faith of our founders, and it aims to point those we serve and serve with towards Jesus.
One of the most exciting things going on in our work right now is a partnership with a group of Nicaraguans, local to the people we serve. They live in the exact same context, so their efforts to engage the kids in the Limonal trash dump community are completely relevant and sustainable (We'll get back to this group in a second).
Two of our goals in Nicaragua are to help Nicargauns thrive through education and to help Nicaraguans thrive through discipleship. We're currently working on providing education and discipleship sponsorships to 56 kids in Limonal. The education aspect of these sponsorships is easy for people to relate to, but discipleship in an entirely different ball game. Discipleship is the act of pointing folks towards Jesus. And, quite frankly, it's difficult. I could use 1,000 words to dissect our challenge in this area, but this sums it up:
Our experience with the protestant church in Nicaragua has been more about pointing people to a certain variety of "correct behavior" rather than towards Jesus himself — something we at SuNica are quick to reject because it's the very nature of the Pharisee, which Jesus so fervently opposed.
This problem isn't unique to Nicaragua, I know. Many of you are probably thinking, why is that a surprise? After all, many of us have experienced the same struggle with a church here in the U.S. Yes, following Christ will always affect your behavior by default, but it's not the point of following....just a by-product. We're not saying that this is the way every church in Nicaragua is; just the 8 or 10 that we've had the chance to engage.
Now let's go back to that group I mentioned above. We've partnered with Young Life (Vida Joven) to aid us in our discipleship efforts, and it's proven to be the closest thing to a healthy church we've seen in Nicaragua. No, Young Life probably doesn't exist within whatever box you fit churches into, but the church is about people. It's not a building. It's not Baptist or Methodist. The church is a group of Christ followers.
We had the chance to spend a weekend with a group of 30 Young Life leaders in March of this year and were stoked listening to their stories of how Jesus had changed their lives. A former gang-member gave a little sermon and then we sang a bunch of praises to the father together. We broke out into small gender specific groups, shared with each other, encouraged each other and prayed for each other. It was everything a church body should do!
I see the Gospel in these Young Life leaders and am thrilled to be able to partner with them to help disciple the kids in Limonal. A group of kids that are in a place where a little discipleship and education can completely revolutionize their lives. It's what Thrive is all about.
This is SuNica and we praise Jesus for the opportunity to be a part of it all.