Bill Sines is the Board Chair for Students International, and he joined us on an outreach to Nicaragua in October. Here’s his story.
It was early morning on that first Sunday of our outreach. It was already getting hot. Our country director, Seth, and I took the van to a community called Valle de Volcan. There is a new church plant that is using our community building on Sundays, so the two of us decided to visit them as a show of support.
As soon as we left the main road, the shocks on the van were getting a workout. The dirt road leading back to the community is full of ruts. There’s a lot of trash along the road. It’s really no wonder because the community is situated right next to the dump.
Waving at the security guard, we pulled through the main gate without stopping. I was fixated on what I saw next. The trash pile at the dump has grown considerably since I had been there in 2017. It now encroaches upon the community. If I had to guess, I would say there is now barely a two-lane “road” between the edge of the dump and the houses. But that really wasn’t the worst of it. The scene that still sticks with me is that of two people wandering around on top of the trash. One of them had a hoe or some sort of tool and was pulling the trash back, seemingly looking for something. Later in the week, we had a conversation about whether they were workers “sorting” the trash, or whether they were scavengers. I tend to think they were the latter. And you know how we can’t flush the toilet paper there? No doubt some of the toilet paper finds its way here….
Winding our way through the community, Seth and I made our visit to the new church plant. There were roughly 30 people in attendance. It’s awesome to see that the building is getting used for ministry in so many different ways. Physical therapy, medical, and the tutoring sites all meet there at various times. Tucked away in a quiet corner between a cornfield and a pineapple field, minutes from the dump, is our ministry center, where some vitally important ministry is occurring in a very poor community in Nicaragua. I praise God for it.
One of the most powerful parts of an outreach is home visits. We just simply take time to walk through the different communities and visit and pray with people. Having been to Nicaragua numerous times, we kept hearing throughout the week, “we remember you.” A number of people on our team have been to Nicaragua multiple times, and they heard the same thing: “we remember you.”
For me, sharing the gospel is probably the pinnacle of any outreach effort. And I got that opportunity on this trip. A handful of people responded positively to a gospel presentation I was able to give. But in light of our home visits, and in light of the increasing poverty, the Lord reminded me of the power and importance of ministering practically to the people, through visits, and through bringing donations:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV).
Similarly, James 1:27 states, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (NKJV).
When you go on an outreach, this is what you’re doing. You’re visiting people in their distress, and you’re helping them with practical needs. I invite you to go, and keep going! And may you hear, as you keep going back, “we remember you.”