By Rev. Leonardo Neitzel, executive assistant to the president for Missions and Social Ministry Services
After driving up from Chinandega, about 140 km into the mountains we visited mission work in two towns, Matagalpa and Jinotega. This is a cooler and somewhat wealthier area where coffee cultivation and business is very strong.
We met with Missionary Hector and Pastor Immer. Missionary Hector started the mission work in Matagalpa and is now the missionary-at-large of the Iglesia Luterana Sínodo de Nicaragua (ILSN). As he was carrying on the mission, he identified Pastor Immer as a candidate for theological studies. Pastor Immer is from that area and an elementary school teacher in Jinotega. He was ordained as an ILSN pastor in March and serves as part-time pastor of the two congregations, one in Matagalpa the other in Jinotega, about 40 km apart. Each congregation has an average of 30 people in worship on Sundays.
The pastors have a strong educational and social ministry focused mostly on children and their families. In Matagalpa they take turns visiting different suburbs on Saturdays for a children’s feeding program. They normally start with an opening service or devotion with children and their parents, later dividing the children into groups by age and involving them in educational and recreational activities. After the meal is served they take time for fellowship and closing of the day’s program.
This program has served many children physically and spiritually and has opened opportunities for pastoral contact with the children’s families.
This is a beautiful example of mission teamwork and pastors sharing in the work of the Lord’s mission. Missionary Hector, who started the mission, has now transferred the two congregations into the care of Pastor Immer. This frees him to search for other areas to start new mission work. Currently, Missionary Hector is reaching out to a new community, Sebaco in the Matagalpa Department (province). They strongly support each other’s work.
There are great needs and challenges in several areas of this mission , but lay leaders, together with the missionary and pastor, are focused, encouraged and determined to share the Gospel the best way they can. These are reasons for our thanks to God.