Our travel this Sunday (October 4th) took us to the community of Potosi, a coastal village on the Gulf of Fonseco in North West Nicaragua. This village like many others had been affected by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and like many others it was one assisted through the social ministry efforts of our LCC Mission.
Two identified community leaders (teachers) from Potosi who had come to know of the Mission while visiting in El Viejo were recruited to provide assistance to their community. They would travel to Chinandega each week to receive food aid as well as spiritual instruction and encouragement from Missionary Arguello. Upon their return to their community, these leaders would share what they had learned and distribute the aid which they had received. It was through these efforts that a small community of believers began to gather in Potosi. Encouraged by the Mission, the community identified one of their own, a farmer by the name of Angel (pronounced Anhil) Salazar, to prepare to serve as their pastor. He in turn attended the first theological seminary program operated by the Mission and upon his ordination was installed as Pastor of Jesus El Boen Pastor (Jesus the Good Shepherd).
The Sunday we visited the congregation, 12 people had gathered for worship. Pastor Angel shared with us that a tragic accident had taken place during the night. A fisherman, in trying to start a gas generator, had been electrocuted. Many from the community were attending the funeral and caring for the needs of the family. Our worship however was meaningful. Pastor Angel shared a message on the basis of the Gospel reading for the day and we joined our voices with those gathered in singing our praise to God. I told Pastor Angel after the service that I appreciated his ability to start the hymns at a pitch at which we could all sing and that he was able to strongly lead the singing in spite all the sounds coming from the outside.
In Canada, we would call Pastor Angel a worker priest. He continues to operate his farm. He grows corn, sesame seeds and mixed vegetables in his fields; He also raises cattle and goats, chickens and turkeys. He uses equipment very much like that used in biblical days, a wooden plough and two oxen. Looking at the rows of corn, you can see that he ploughs a straight furrow.
The community had also identified two women to serve as deaconesses. Both were trained through our theological program; one in the first program, the second in the second. Both deaconesses however have now immigrated to Costa Rica and so the congregation has been left without the service of a deaconess. Picking up the slack however is Teacher Conception Guerrero. She oversees the Children’s Christian Education Program (A CLWR and CLMS project) with 25 children registered and an additional six children present. We admired how clean she keeps the building, the posters she has made for the walls (including Luther’s morning and evening prayers) and the flowers she has planted in the front. Pastor Angel says that she is a very competent teacher.
The travel to Potosi was difficult with the last 30 kilometers in need of serious repair; much easier to reach by motorcycle. Nevertheless it was a blessing to visit this congregation and to worship with them. Keep the congregation of Potosi, Pastor Angel and Conception in your prayers this week.