By Julie Bourdon
Nicaragua (MNN) – Fifteen years ago, missionary Steve Bakos entered a region of the world shrouded in spiritual darkness. The people group he encountered had very little access to Scripture and among them were those practicing witchcraft.
Steve Bakos has been a missionary for 27 years, starting in Mexico for the first 12 and serving in Nicaragua to the present time. He has been distributing booklets from World Missionary Press for over two decades.
While Nicaragua is mostly a Spanish-speaking nation, there are minority language groups. Bakos says, “Up in the [Northeastern] part of the country, there is an indigenous people group, the Miskito Indians which have their own dialect and the vast majority of them speak no Spanish. So when the Lord led us there 15 years ago—it is a very remote region, a lot of poverty. But having worked in Mexico amongst poverty, what impacted me the most was not the poverty of the people but [a] region void of the Word of God.”
When he encountered the Miskito people, he partnered with World Missionary Press to begin translating their Scripture booklets into the Miskito language. Twenty-four months later, the project was completed.
“For about 96% of the entire population in that region, it was the first time they had ever seen the Word of God in their own written language. And since that time the impact that the Word of God has brought to that region is unbelievable. There’s story after story.”
Local witch turns to freedom in Christ
One of Bakos’ favorite stories, for example, is about a man named General from one of the Miskito villages.
He says, “General was the most feared witch on the entire Río Coco river—over 50 years practicing witchcraft. And it was a very, very, dark, dark region. Very active spiritually in the witchcraft. But as we began to come in there with the Gospel and again leaving the literature, explaining the literature, it began to transform that region.
“And one particular trip we made, General came up to me and basically said, you know ‘I never knew about this, but will you tell me how I can accept Jesus?’ and that day he received Jesus, burned all of his tools, if you will, of the trade and has never looked back. And he’s been living for the Lord ever since and that was over 12 years ago.”
Meeting the Provider
Not only were hearts transformed by the bringing of the Gospel, but those who accepted Jesus began to see their circumstances in a new light. The Miskito people, Bakos says, live a simple life in a remote part of the world. So remote, in fact, that the different villages are most easily accessed along the river in dugout canoes. These people farm for their food. They have no electricity, and everything is done by hand.
For many years, their efforts to produce a strong crop to feed their communities has been thwarted by a number of difficulties.
“Year after year they were cursed with plagues. The rice wouldn’t produce or the river would flood and they would lose their crops and they went years without food. And as the Gospel came in, I’d tell them … , ‘God is the provider. Look to the Lord, not to man to meet your needs.’” And as they began to understand more and more about God through his Word, they came to trust in him. And then God provided them with vitamin enriched rice to eat. Now, their children are no longer dying from hunger but are healthy and growing.
“They’re giving God the glory for his provision because, not only does he save and forgive, but they’re understanding that he is the source, that he is the provider of all they need even when the things of this life throw you a curve, so to speak.”
Bakos says through this event, God illustrated his love and care for the Miskito people.“Just as God has brought his Word here, he has confirmed his Word in that he does provide.”Today, the Word of God continues to transform thousands of lives among the Miskito people.
Even so, there are still a variety of challenges the ministry faces on a logistic level. Because there are no roads, transporting people and Scripture booklets and other supplies has been difficult. Mud and rain mean traversing over land is trying, and so much of the transportation has to be done by the river.
“It’s a challenge in a good way … because one of the other fruits that has happened since the booklets have come there and the Word of God, is now many of the people who have come to the Lord and God has birthed churches –we are sending out native missionaries, born-again, Christian Miskitos to share the Gospel with their fellow Miskito Indians.”
Right now, Bakos and his ministry are sending out 50 native missionaries a month to share the Gospel using Scripture booklets and a study of John from World Missionary Press.
Will you ask God to guide their paths as they continue this outreach? Pray for the necessary resources to be provided and for hearts to be open to the Gospel.
And if you are a missionary or just a believer wanting to reach out to your community, consider ordering Scripture booklets, free of cost, to hand out.