Nicaragua Trip Overview

Hello Bethel Family!

I just wanted to give an overview of our mission trip to Nicaragua. Our Bethel team consisted of leader Craig Radford, Robb Miller, Mark Mattay, and myself (Jeremy Lewis). We had a mix of Bethel South and Bethel Downtown members. Due to some rushed circumstances beyond our control, we had met just the week before to discuss the trip, become familiar with each other, and pray. We left for Nicaragua on March 16th and stayed overnight in Managua in order to meet workers/interpreters with IBAC. We then made the drive down to the port and the subsequent ferry ride to Ometepe. We were all busy that Sunday going over our notes and approach to our presentations and really coming together as a complete unit of speakers and interpreters. I felt that God heard and made honored our prayers for a unified and cohesive unit. My personal impression was that I could not have been teamed up with a more capable and gifted group of men all around.

Despite a diverse group of people, some who had only recently met, the presence of God was clearly felt the entire trip. The presentations went smoothly as we covered the New Testament Survey for the next four days starting with a historical background of the New Testament and ending with Revelation. I taught on the New Testament Divisions/Chronology, Galatians, Colossians, and 1 Peter. We had little time each night other than to give our presentations, eat dinner, and go to sleep. Somehow, it still felt like there were many lasting and meaningful moments, while the week passed in no time. I believe that was because our team’s love for God and the people was so strong, our interpreters were so good, and the work was so important. We closed out our presentations on Thursday (March 21st) and sadly said goodbye to the friendly church leaders of Ometepe. We were able to get some rest and relax for a few hours that evening in preparation for the ferry trip and car ride back to Managua on Friday, then an early flight home on Saturday. Praise God, we arrived safely back home ready to go back to our normal lives.

That was a lot of detail on the trip, but I’d like to get to the more personal. I didn’t know what to expect from this. I knew I was presented with an opportunity, and I wanted to do what God had for me. As believers we all want to have an impact for God. I think I was forgetting that it wasn’t just for God, but intended by God. I fully expected to do some work there, something good. I don’t hesitate to say God did more in me. I came back to normal life, but with renewed purpose. I still don’t know how exactly that is taking shape, but it is taking shape. I confess a sense of longing that we had more time and more presentations to give. The people we were speaking to were beyond kind and respectful, eager to hear us and learn as much as they could take in. They were extremely grateful that Bethel has a personal stake in their communities.

Mission trips take place for many reasons: humanitarian, conversion, teaching, etc. The common link is that they all bring the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Most of us think of mission trips in the humanitarian or conversion sense. However, I believe this particular trip was exceedingly important. There is an urgency for biblical and theological literacy within the church. That’s what we were doing in Ometepe. We were giving the leaders there an education they can pass on to their members and that their members can pass on to their communities. In the vacuum created by biblical and theological illiteracy, false gospels and false religions abound. Virtually the entire New Testament runs with warnings against these false religions. Luke writes, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:28-29). This work is very important. I am grateful to receive great theology at Bethel and grateful to pass it on.

There were a lot of firsts for me on this trip: first time getting a passport and leaving the country, first time teaching a crowd of this size, first time being gone from my family for a week, first time speaking through an interpreter, etc. There were also some uncomfortable realities for me: I hate flying (fear, not dislike), I am a homebody, I don’t like missing my limited time with my family, I do not feel comfortable in social situations or speaking to crowds. I do however, love teaching about the Bible, Theology, and what it shows us of God, what he has done, and his character. I would encourage anyone to put their fears to rest and get involved if it is on your heart to do so. We all have our issues and concerns. We all also have the things God gifted us to do. Peter tells us, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). I don’t know what your gifts are and it certainly may not be teaching, but they are there for a reason. There are many roles in these types of trips. God wants to use you to impact the world to his glory. My process was made much easier by the fantastic missions staff at Bethel. My thanks to them for all of the help, advice, and instruction.

As a final note of thanks:

Special thanks to my wife for constantly pushing me to do things I am uncomfortable doing, but are always important and fulfilling. Micah, thanks for always pointing toward Christ. Thanks to Bethel for the opportunity, particularly the preachers, teachers, and leaders who prepare us. Thanks to Craig, Robb, Mark, Dave, Freddie, Cairo, and Arlen. You are remarkable men, and I am the better for having shared this experience with you. I learned a lot. Thanks to IBAC for the work they do and the people they employ. Thanks to the friends, family, and members of Bethel whose prayers meant everything. Your innumerable contributions from funding to encouragement are a gift that is not taken lightly. Thanks to the pastors and leaders on Ometepe for their hunger for God, their kindness, and respect. Thank you God for the work you are doing for and through your people. May all the glory go to you. Last but not least, thank you to the woman who passed me a note in Spanish asking me to pray for your husband and family. That trust won’t be forgotten.

-Jeremy Lewis