Updates From Latin America
The combination of a viral pandemic, restricting activity and straining resources, with natural disasters has not only brought suffering to millions of people, it has also awakened many churches as to how to meet the overwhelming needs. God has revealed new avenues of service, ways to reach into villages long shut to the gospel, and how to demonstrate His love in practical ways. A testimony from a WMP partner ministry working in Nicaragua is representative of many such reports:
“All around there are many needs. Sometimes we feel powerless because we cannot respond to every need. However, we cannot sit still. We are to pray for others, but we must also take action. I got permission to go into the hospital, with some restrictions. While we were ministering, people were asking for prayer and even those just passing by on the street stopped. There were tears on their faces and we heard some say how much they needed this. About 20 taxi drivers stopped to request prayer and listen to the message. We saw 20 people receive Jesus there!” —K., Nicaragua
When Paraguay locked down much of the country in response to the viral pandemic, a WMP distributor went to every prison that would allow him to enter, taking Scripture booklets and sharing the gospel. He carried the same message to those in the new COVID-19 recovery centers.
With new opportunities to share the Word and hungry hearts looking for hope, requests for WMP Scripture booklets have increased. New container shipments are needed to keep supplies moving. Orders already received here and awaiting production and shipping total almost 40 million equivalency for 14 countries of Latin America, following up on the 26.8 million sent in the past year.
In 2004 the Messiah Project in Nicaragua began using WMP literature. As they reached more remote regions, the Lord opened doors to bring the Word of God to the Miskito Indians of the Rio Coco for the first time in their own language. What the Spirit of God has done through His Word and the faithfulness of many is a ringing testimony of God’s unfailing love for all people, wherever they are and whatever language they speak.
WMP: Steve, how did having Scripture booklets in the Miskito language help establish believers in the Rio Coco region?
Steve: After years of experiencing their impact first-hand, I believe that God truly inspired the topical format of the Scripture booklets to effectively introduce people to the Word of God. Though many in rural and remote regions haven’t had the benefit of a high-school education, they are able—with the help of the Holy Spirit—to grasp a topic through the selected verses.
WMP: How has the pandemic affected the work of recently established churches and believers?
Steve: On my return to Nicaragua in March, we had wonderful, joy-filled meetings and services. I have been humbled to see how powerfully the Lord has moved during this pandemic phase. At a time of fear and uncertainty, the brothers and sisters of Messiah Project chose to try and make a difference. They took to the streets and marketplaces to share the good news of Jesus. Pooling together the offerings from each church, they purchased basic food supplies and prepared gift bags, making sure to include several Scripture booklets in each bag, sowing the Word of God in homes that otherwise might not receive spiritual food.
WMP: You have called the Scripture booklets “invaluable resources.” Can you elaborate?
Steve: WMP Scripture booklets are an essential part in sowing the love of God and hope for a better future. Though people will listen to what we have to say, they can soon forget. But when we give them a Scripture booklet, we know the Word of God will go back with them to their homes and continue to bear fruit. Many of our brothers and sisters want to do something for the Lord but feel inadequate or unprepared. Scripture booklets are an invaluable resource in training and equipping these precious saints. Anyone can “go” and give someone a Scripture booklet, which is part of the foundation we build upon in making disciples of Jesus Christ.
WMP: Another container of literature is ready to send to Nicaragua. Are you ready to receive it?
Steve: As I reviewed last year’s report of our evangelistic outreaches across the country, I was amazed at the amount of literature they had given out in my absence—over 1,600 boxes! I know the literature from WMP has been an intrinsic part of the Lord’s work through Messiah Project. I have spent the better part of two days signing certificates of baptism, rededications of lives restored, and the dedication of children to the Lord from new members of the Messiah Project churches across the country. We are ready to receive another shipment of literature! After I see how the virus has affected the customs process, I will initiate the process of shipping the literature at your earliest convenience!
Messiah Project is responding to the need to provide New Testaments in the Miskito language by providing a translation and raising funds to help WMP print 25,000 copies! Preparation for printing is almost complete. From not even knowing the name of Jesus, to learning of God’s love through a feeding program in hundreds of centers and being introduced to God’s Word through Scripture booklets, to having churches established along the Rio Coco with the New Testament in their own language--“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8).
Open Doors During COVID-19
The combination of a viral pandemic, restricting activity, and straining resources, with natural disasters, has not only brought suffering to millions of people, but it has also awakened many churches as to how to meet the overwhelming needs. God has revealed new avenues of service, ways to reach into villages long shut to the gospel, and how to demonstrate His love in practical ways. A testimony from a WMP partner ministry working in Nicaragua is representative of many such reports:
“All around there are many needs. Sometimes we feel powerless because we cannot respond to every need. However, we cannot sit still. We are to pray for others, but we must also take action. I got permission to go into the hospital, with some restrictions. While we were ministering, people were asking for prayer and even those just passing by on the street stopped. There were tears on their faces and we heard some say how much they needed this. About 20 taxi drivers stopped to request prayer and listen to the message. We saw 20 people receive Jesus there!”
Reaching Nicaragua During COVID-19
A medical team that took WMP Scripture booklets to Nicaragua excitedly reported how helpful the booklets were in getting the gospel into several areas of the country. As people came to the door of the clinic, they received a Scripture booklet. Local pastors received supplies for further outreach and teaching.
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.