This is a busy weekend coming up. We start Saturday morning with a first attempt at Blessing the Animals. We’ve talked about this for a long time. You’re invited to come by with your own pets or bring a family member, friend, colleague, or neighbor to share the occasion. The service will be brief and Pastor Gregory or I will offer a blessing to each critter present – even the human ones!
Our July Quarterly Business meeting will mark 30 years since our congregation voted to enter into a sister-church relationship with the Primera Iglesia Bautista of Corinto, Nicaragua. This was a time
of challenge in our history with the controversial Contra War that the US government was waging in Nicaragua against the newly formed Sandinista government. Dr. Gustavo Parajon, of CEPAD, asked us to get to know our Baptist sisters and brothers in Nicaragua for ourselves and learn what life was really like.
So after much study and with connections made on our behalf by a young woman, Leah Halper, working in Nicaragua, we were linked to the Baptist Church in Corinto. Their pastor, Elmer Barahona, visited us in Palo Alto in May of 1985 and in July at the Quarterly Business Meeting, we made the relationship official.
Pastor Barahona brought with him an invitation to their 50th Anniversary, and so our first delegation went to Nicaragua in January, 1986. We brought sewing machines for their sewing project and lots of clothes and toiletries, as supplies of basic items were so limited at that time. Our pastor, Rev. Randy Mishoe, preached at their Sunday evening service. The delegation toured other parts of Nicaragua as a means to help us here in Palo Alto gain a better understanding of life there and the challenges the people faced.
Since that time, we have had visitors come north. Pastor Elmer Barahona returned a second time and Pastor Elias Sanchez came while Rev. Chuck Syverson was pastor. Over the years, we have hosted two lay people, Omar Martinez, principal of the Corinto Baptist School and most recently in 2007, Francisco Antonio Flores Mejia, who met the first delegation when he was 4 years old and who is now married and a medical doctor.
Our second delegation went to Corinto in April of 1990, where we had the privilege of staying in people’s homes for several days. Our pastor, Rev. Chuck Syverson, accompanied this group. We helped do some painting in the church, had time to get to know families and participate in their worship and even went on a picnic to the beach!
The last visit to Corinto was when I took my mother and son to Nicaragua in 2003. We spent a Sunday morning in worship, were treated to a lunch with the congregation, and had time afterwards to share what was happening in each of our churches.
We continue to maintain a relationship, although not as vigorous as in years past. We send $500 on an annual basis to support their church projects. Usually in October, during our World Mission campaign, we get a report from the current pastor, Ricardo Castillo, of the many ministries that this small congregation is involved in: daily children’s lunch program, surf ministry, youth ministry, jail ministry, and mission work outside of Corinto, reaching smaller communities.
As I reported last fall, the Corinto School, which we helped to support for many years, is currently not operating due to some difficult situations.
Our sister church is always listed on our list of prayer concerns. We are linked by our common love of God and Jesus Christ. We pray for them and they pray for us. Hopefully, one day we will be able to have some from our church to visit Corinto again.
Every December, as part of the Mission budget, we send $500 to our Sister Church in Corinto, Nicaragua. We have been related to the Primera Iglesia Bautista of Corinto since 1985. Both churches have seen different pastors through the years. We first met Elmer Barahona in 1985, and today the pastor is Ricardo Castillo. In the beginning years we exchanged visits, 2 delegations from FBC traveled to Nicaragua and 2 pastors and 2 laymen have visited us here in Palo Alto. Our last visitor was Francisco Mejia, now a doctor, who came here in July of 2007. He was just 4 years old when our first delegation participated in the 50th anniversary celebration of the Primera Iglesia Bautista in January of 1986.
Today, we maintain our commitment with our $500 to support projects of sister church and periodically exchange information via e-mail. Our sisters and brothers are always on our prayer list as they seek to worship God in their very difficult circumstances.
The following is a translation of the communication from Pastor Ricardo Castillo that was shared during worship on October 26.
We glorify God because he has been good to us always in the midst of our difficult situations. His mercy has sustained us wherever his grace has taken us.
We are working with a new ministry within the church that we call Center of Hope, where different activities, programs and work have been developed. They are the following:
- Children’s Lunch Room Ministry
- Surf Ministry
- Youth Ministry
- Jail Visitation Ministry
- Mission Ministry
Children’s Lunch Room Ministry
More than 60 boys and girls attend the lunch program 5 days a week. In this ministry we have the following programs: crafts, sports and recreation, and Bible study. These programs are interspersed throughout the week. Our principal objective is to bring the message of the Good News of the Reign of God to the whole family through the different activities and food preparation for the children.
This idea emerged through the idea of taking advantage of the beaches and waves that we have here in Corinto. It’s a ministry that generates great economic cost for the acquisition and maintenance of the surf boards, but the effect is extraordinary when a person has the first experience of being able to support oneself on the waves on a board. The main objective is personal evangelism.
Youth Ministry (Recocrece)
Due to the numerical growth of youth that we have experienced in the last 2 years, a ministry was implemented where youth have a time for recreating in fellowship and spiritual growth. (Recocrece is a word created from Recreation in Communion and Crece Spiritual Growth.) The young people get together each week on Sunday afternoon, when they have a short talk about various Biblical, family and young adult related themes. Afterwards, they have team activities to promote working in unity and communion. There are about 45 adolescents and young adults that participate.
We have been a bit remiss in this ministry due to health reasons, but now we are taking up this ministry again. We have a weekly visit bringing them a nutritious snack and medications. The number of prisoners varies from 24 to 38 and we meet in a space designed for 10 people. The conversations are good and very effective.
We have extended our mission work a little ways from our locality. We have a group of 18 families with 67 children in the city of Leon, where we work together with the Fifth Baptist Church in Leon and their pastor, Carlos Castillo. The need is overwhelming in all senses. Resources are non‐existent and it is
only with the help and economic resources of those of us who are doing the work that any needs are met. Urgently needed is everything: food, shoes, clothing, health care, infrastructure, etc.
We have another group of boys and girls in the municipality close to Corinto, La Bascula, in a marginal section called La Costita. 45 boys and girls attend and participate in worship activities, 2 times a week, Wednesday and Sunday. We have built a House of Worship, (or church) on Castanones Island where more than 18 families attend to have services and other activities. We received donations from Little Ones Ministries to build the church on the island. This is the same organization that helps us with serving the 60 children in our lunch program.
The Corinto School
Because of extreme situations and reasons that the Ministry of Education of Corinto began against us, the matriculation in our school fell until it was no longer sustainable. This produced serious delays in teachers pay and many resigned until their labor demands could be met. We asked permission of the Ministry of Education, Department of Chinandeg, not to operate the school for 2 years, 2014 and 2015, in order to find economic alternatives to cancel debts and reopen as a corporate entity.
Ricardo Castillo, pastor of the Primera Iglesia Bautista of Corinto, Nicaragua
It was a very full weekend with the memorial service for Don Granholm, Epiphany worship with communion, a Nicaragua update from Charlie Aker and a Finance Committee meeting. It was both full and rich. We are grateful for the exceptional life of Don Granholm – husband, father, grandfather, teacher, world traveler, peacemaker and head usher extraordinaire! The church was full Saturday of those who came to pay tribute. Eleanor Satterlee, Joanne Jones and crew did a splendid job on the reception. We are also grateful for our worshiping community and for Charlie Aker who so willingly shares with us.
We are behind on our pledge projections for 2014. If you have not yet made your pledge or are able to consider giving more, that would be very helpful as we look to the future and move into our renewal project. Thanks to Jane Chin and the other members of our Finance Committee for all their hard work. Jin Chin announced at the meeting that he is stepping down as Treasurer. He has served us well for the past 7 years. Please consider prayerfully and carefully whether God might be calling you to help out in this department. It is imperative that we have someone in the Treasurer position. If you have any inkling of interest, please talk to Pastor Rick or Carolyn Shepard. We have some ideas about making the job more manageable going forward.
I will begin phase 2 of my sabbatical this Sunday. This will be the second set of classes for the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program that I began last year. I will be in San Anselmo at San Francisco Theological Seminary from the 12th through the 31st of January. Tripp will provide pastoral coverage and Oleta administrative. Please give them your full support in my absence. Thank you again for this opportunity to study and grow.
Don’t forget Sunday at 10 AM.
May God’s new thing flourish within us and among us.
Prayer Call by Bob Santilli (BIM ABC-USA) September 25, 2013 for Carlos Bonilla and Mayra Giovanetti, helping train leaders and showing the reality of God’s love and mercy in Nicaragua.
Carlos and Mayra are working with the Baptist Theological Seminary in Nicaragua, accompanying them in the program of informal theological education in the churches of the Baptist Convention of Nicaragua and as writers of curriculum material for the Seminary. They seek each day to show others God’s love and mercy, as a reality.
Please pray for:
• Wisdom and discernment as we sit to write the curriculum materials for the Seminary.
• Continued health as we continue our ministry in Nicaragua.
• Our itinerary this second semester, combination of Seminary and visits to the churches for workshops and sharing the Word.
In December, I wrote and asked Ricardo Castillo, pastor of our sister church in Corinto, Nicaragua about the School. I wanted to confirm my translation that they were only offering secondary school for 2013. So this is his reply on Feb. 11, 2013.
“For the educational year 2013, we will not offer a Primary level because of certain difficulties in enrollment. There are very few students enrolled (20) and with that number it is not possible to pay 7 teachers!
We hope that next year will have a better enrollment so that we can continue our education programs. Therefore, we are only promoting and offering secondary level.
A wall was constructed (one of the projects named in January’s Spire to enlarge the classroom for secondary). The cost of materials was $455 and labor was $100, with the total investment being $550.
Forgive me for being so late to answer your question, but the work at the beginning of the year has been intense and my fractured right hand has not yet healed completely. (I believe from his Facebook page that this fracture occurred as a result of an earthquake.)
Greetings to the congregation in Palo Alto. Please accept greetings from our growing, young congregation in Corinto, Nicaragua. I wish you all the peace of God,”
Pastor of the Primera Iglesia Bautista
Addendum: Since receiving this e-mail, I received another 2/25 which explained that our $500 was used specifically for renovation of the electrical system for 5 classrooms, fans for ventilation, and materials for the repair of 120 student desks.