With the closing of Cuba to North American missionaries and a growing interest in mission work in Latin America, the Brethren in Christ began work in Nicaragua in 1964. First efforts were in the Managua (national capital) area; within a few years the work expanded so that by 1985 Brethren churches were established in 9 of the 16 provinces (departments) of the country. After a slow beginning, growth gained momentum in the mid-1970s and then accelerated rapidly (1969: 19 members in 1 congregation; 1976: 50 members in 8 congregations; 1985: 1,794 members in 54 congregations; 2003: 3,775 members in 68 congregations). The church is strongly committed to evangelism and church planting.
This growth took place despite of and because of some crisis events. These were the Managua earthquake (1972), the overthrow of the Somoza government by the Sandinista movement (1978-1979), and the United States-Nicaragua confrontation (since 1982). These crises have sharply focused such social problems as poverty, illiteracy, and disease. They also have opened many hearts to the gospel.
The nature of the developing Brethren in Christ Church has also been shaped by the method of evangelism. Instead of churches pastored by missionaries, emphasis has been placed on church planting, on house churches (with subsequent construction of church buildings), and, most important, on using Nicaraguans as pastors. This has meant identifying and training pastors. There has been much on-the-job training and there have been many local and national seminars. Some pastors have attended Central American seminaries and Bible institutes. Such training has involved both men and women. Only one missionary couple was on the field after 1981, and they gave much of their time to pastoral education.
In 1980 Enrique Palacios was elected executive minister of the Iglesia Hermanos en Cristo, Nicaragua (Brethren in Christ Church in Nicaragua). The church organized on a national level as the Iglesia Hermanos en Cristo, Nicaragua. Palacios stated the growth of the church was due to the Brethren distinctives of the new birth, dependence on the Holy Spirit, peace witness, and ministry to the whole person.
Social activities, undertaken sometimes by the Brethren themselves, sometimes with the Mennonite Central Committee, and sometimes with the government, have included organizing adult literacy programs, operating health clinics, providing safe water, securing electricity, building latrines, feeding the hungry, providing food supplements, improving agricultural productivity, meeting housing needs, and helping refugees. The Brethren in Christ have worked with other evangelicals in meeting emergency needs.
The prominent role played by women in the Brethren in Christ church is indicated by the organization in 1980 of the National Women's Union, and has manifested itself as they, beyond preaching and teaching the gospel, have dealt with such matters as proper child care, managing the household, sewing clothing, and preparing nutritional food. In these and other ways the women are making an important contribution.
Wittlinger, Carlton O. Quest for Piety and Obedience: The Story of the Brethren in Christ. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1978: 518-21.
Brethren in Christ Missions, Annual Reports. (1979ff).
Brethren in Christ Missions. Therefore (1972ff).
Sider, Bert. Evangelical Visitor (10 Febraury 1976): 3-4
Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 236-238.
Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 100.
Mennonite World Conference. "MWC - 2003 Caribbean, Central & South America Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Accessed 21 February 2006. <http://www.mwc-cmm.org/Directory/carcsam.html>.
|Author(s)||Donald R. Zook|
|Martin H. Schrag|
Cite This Article
Zook, Donald R. and Martin H. Schrag. "Iglesia Hermanos en Cristo, Nicaragua." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 30 Aug 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_Hermanos_en_Cristo,_Nicaragua&oldid=88175.
Zook, Donald R. and Martin H. Schrag. (1987). Iglesia Hermanos en Cristo, Nicaragua. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 August 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_Hermanos_en_Cristo,_Nicaragua&oldid=88175.
Herald Press website.
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