I had a good trip to Nicaragua. Missionary SangKun Lee set up a mission center in front of three newly developed villages and was planning out how to help develop the area centered on the new villages. I felt very comfortable because he was not rushing into things but taking time to setup everything. Because he had served in the region for a while, he has the inner knowledge to establish a great direction. I really hope that this work of developing the region that fits the local needs goes well, and can become a sample for other villages. But I felt a need for a fellow missionary to help him in spiritual matters. It is difficult to teach House Church model to the local pastors, and if a missionary can join him who already understand House Church and desire for establishing House Church and can speak the local language, I think that would be a perfect mission partnership in spirit and body.
This was a first visit for me to Nicaragua and the country appeared to be desperately poor. The trip from the capital, Managua, to the mission center took 30 minutes and during the trip, I could not find any hint of economic development and there appeared to be no work available. If the country has no natural resources and uneducated population, the leaders should be working hard to raise the education level, and continue to think about how to make the country competitive in the world market, such as bringing in investments to develop businesses and industries. But I had a feeling of resentment against the politicians who were only thinking for themselves and became personally rich through corruption and graft, Just 60 years ago, Korea was in same circumstances, but I am very thankful that we had leaders that had foresight to build up each cities and villages, build highways, and to establish many industries.
I have to be very careful with my words, but whenever I visit a mission field, I become aware of many unintended consequences of mission work. In this country, each village of few households of low income family had churches and local pastors. It is very clear how this came about. The church building was erected with foreign money. And as the poor residents probably cannot be making much offering, each of the local pastors has to depend on foreign missionaries and end up chasing money.
Some people misunderstood that to ‘establish church’ means to construct a church building, and instead of developing Christians, they setup local seminaries and turn any person that showed an inkling of interest into pastors. This mistake has resulted with every village overflowing with church buildings and pastors yet with very few true Christians and my heart aches because of this. Yet, I think this situation will become worse as there is a trend that if a pastor retires from our country, they will go to the local mission field to establish seminaries and call well known theologians to give lectures.
When I think about the missionaries that came to our country to live with local villages to show how a Christian should live, teach us to stop bad habits, build hospitals to solve the immediate health care needs, build schools to teach with a hope for the changes through next generation, I cannot help but be thankful for them and I become more firm in my belief that true mission has to use that model, and that House Church can be such a model.
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