Church – Sunday, June 19, 2016
Today’s update about our second day in Nicaragua is written by Ezra Craker:
When you picture our group frolicking around Nicaragua, you might be imagining lush flora, refreshing fruit juices, and three hour naps in a gently swinging hammock. Okay, you caught me. This country has more chill than a Pure Michigan commercial (though those are great, too). However, tropical paradise hasn’t been our only experience here in Nicaragua. We’ve learned about the layered history, complex politics, and more and more about each other. I think the biggest thing we learned this Sunday is that when you ask God a question, He answers in one way or another.
In the trainings we attended in preparation for Nicaragua, our prayer as a group was often that God would reveal Himself and the work He was doing there. I think I can speak for the group when I say that any of our expectations in that moment were understatements, or at least undefined.
Sunday morning, after a delicious breakfast of cheese and salsa omelets (shout out to the people who work at our guest house), we took another sacred ride on our beloved struggle bus to Pastor Denis Miranda’s church. The service started out like any Madison service, with a praise band leading the congregation in contemporary worship songs. After the singing, Pastor Denis introduced Pastor Joy to the church and invited her to come up and give the sermon she had prepared. Accompanied by a translator, she began her message of encouragement. She would say a phrase in English and her translator, Jose, would repeat it in Spanish with the same exact hand motions and tone of voice.
Towards the end of the sermon, Pastor Joy invited Pastor Denis up to the front so she could pray a word of affirmation over his work. It’s all kind of a blur, but throughout this process of prayer and worship, different things began to happen. Although the Holy Spirit was already there throughout the service, we felt God’s presence more strongly at this point. People were crying, kneeling, and speaking in tongues. In turn Pastor Denis spoke a word of prophecy over Pastor Joy using powerful language and imagery. As our whole group laid hands on her, Pastor Denis began to prophesy about the country of Nicaragua and Meikea as well.
As you might imagine, this was a pretty deep and thought-provoking service for a group that has varying levels of experience with the gifts of the Spirit. For about ten minutes after the service ended, I was still taking deep breaths. Luckily we then took a relaxing jaunt to the Pacific Ocean where we were up to all kinds of fun antics.
Though the beach took my mind off things for a while, I was still unsettled and full of questions. That night we sat down for our daily overview of the day’s events and it quickly became a discussion about speaking in tongues, prophesying, and other gifts of the Spirit. Pastor Joy had us read excerpts from 1 Corinthians 12-14 that offered explanations that answered so many questions about the service. After feeling rattled and confused, we learned that everything that happened at the service came straight from God.
Since our second day was spent learning so much, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week holds.