There are no more barricades on streets or highways. The police and paramilitary thugs have removed all of them by force leaving more than 400 dead and thousands injured among the protestors. So, driving seems rather normal except for last week when the police were stopping almost every vehicle in a certain area and fining them for whatever infraction they could find. Small businesses are also being targeted by the audit police who are assigning large fines for whatever accounting/reporting infraction they can find. All of this is because the economy is unsustainable and the government is looking for any source of income it can find. Sanctions by the US and OEA are going to have greater and greater impact on the economy. As reported yesterday, August 18th, by Roberto Trujillo, permanent US representative to the OEA, more US sanctions are coming soon.
An Anti-Terrorism Law was passed recently which gives broad, poorly defined power to the government to imprison and take the property of anyone they suspect of “subversion” of the government. This was passed to justify the police continuing to take men and women from their homes, off the street, and from public transportation who the government believes had a part in the protests that began this past 19th of April. To date, more than 600 have been detained in this way. These are taken to prisons and holding areas where they are questioned through torture. There are many horrifying stories from those who have survived the police brutality, including one young woman who was pregnant that was repeatedly punched and kicked in her abdomen causing her to lose her baby. There are hundreds who have simply disappeared this way. Some show up later in the morgues. Many have fled Nicaragua to neighboring countries and those with visas to the US. More than 32,000 have crossed over into Costa Rica alone.
The government refuses any kind of dialogue or the intervention by human rights organizations. The Catholic Church that previously was moderating dialogues between protestors and the government has now been declared the enemy of the government. The National Assembly (Nica Congress) passed a new budget last week where they removed all financial support for the Catholic Church. Previously the Catholic Church had been heavily subsidized by the government. Almost every other public sector, including health and education, etc. was also reduced or removed from the budget. The only sectors receiving increases were the National Assembly and organizations run by family members of the president.
In spite of the situation, there is major highway construction going on from Managua all the way south to Rivas. This is the Pan-American Highway and it is being widened to 4-lanes, a major undertaking. The highway leaving Managua towards Matagalpa is also being widened but so far for only a short distance. There is also an over-pass being constructed on the South Highway that is far behind schedule and has been diverting traffic all year long creating traffic jams in other places. Several new, large buildings have been constructed in Managua this year as well. All of these projects are funded by outside sources, i.e. the US.
Today, Saturday the 18th of August, marks 4-months of protests and will be emphasized by a major protest march where thousands are expected to take part protesting the repression of the Ortega government.
Our Mission continues to provide food for a variety of persons related to the Mission who have no source of income. Manna Packs are continued to be supplied to our churches with feeding programs. Our churches are being provided with medicines. We have begun Bible Institute classes again both in Diriamba and our satellite in Rio Grande. The Mount of Olives School is functioning normally with an enrollment of 350 students. The Emanuel Home of Protection is also currently protecting and providing care for 16 young girls and babies. We celebrated Day of the Pastor the 8th of August…our first pastor’s meeting in several months. We have completed several construction projects, have two underway, and hope to begin the last one in mid-September. We are praying about and contemplating bringing several small teams to Nicaragua in the next few months.
I read where someone said that the safest place to be is in the will of God. I would rephrase that to say the best place to be is in the will of God. The cross was certainly not a safe place for Jesus but where would we be without His sacrifice and obedience to the Father? Jerry Falwell said, Nothing of spiritual significance comes without sacrifice. Your spirituality will always be measured by the size of your sacrifice.
Our God is sovereign and there are no surprises with Him. In everything He has a purpose even though at the time it may not be clear to us. But our calling and mandate is clear as recorded in Mathew 28:19-20. My memory verses for this week’s discipleship lesson are Hebrews 10:24-25. I am to stimulate, stir up, encourage, and promote my fellow Believers to love and good works.
Thank you for praying for Nicaragua and all of the BMDMI family here in Nicaragua!
Darrel & Cathey Johnson
Darrel cel: 011-505-8855-2310; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cathey cel: 011-505-8855-2311; email@example.com