Several years ago I met Bro. Jose Mojica, who serves as the Spanish Pastor at Landmark Baptist Church in Haines City, FL. Bro. Mojica offered to help us get a Spanish ministry started at our church in Fort Pierce. He and his family came over on Saturdays for a few months to help us get our ministry up and going. During this time, we became good friends and Bro. Mojica invited me on a trip to Nicaragua where he owns some property. In the area where the property is located, which is less than 15 minutes from the Managua airport, there were no gospel preaching churches. He would take two or three trips a year down and check on the property and have a service on the property for the people in the area. On the trip I went on we had a service on a Thursday afternoon at a time when most of the children were in school. Bro. Mojica went into the neighborhood and invited a few people and asked them to get the word out. Just from word of mouth over 350 people came to hear the gospel preached. I preached and over 40 people raised their hand indicating they had asked the Lord to save them. The sad part, not a church to place them in.
I could not get over this. The need is so great in that country. Baptist churches in Nicaragua are far and few between and what is even sadder is the fact that most of the ones that are there are so messed up doctrinally that to call them Baptist is a stretch. On my second trip into the country I was introduced to a pastor who has a church in the mountains. After hearing his story, my burden grew even greater. He called himself a Baptist but admitted that he knew very little. They did not understand eternal security, they knew nothing about personal soul winning, many of them were not even saved because they did not have a clear understanding of salvation. They were prime examples of Romans 10:2,3 "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
We started a ministry we call NICARAGUA FOR CHRIST. Riverview Baptist Church in Fort Pierce, the church I pastored, became the sending church. The ministry has two main goals. Number one, Teach Nationals. We do this by teaching them Bible doctrines, and helping them become grounded in the Word of God. We have started a Pastors School on our property that is open to those who feel God has called them to the ministry and wish to know Biblical Truth and doctrine. Secondly, we assist them in planting Bible believing, Soul-Winning, Independent Baptist Churches. We do this by A; offering ourselves to help with the physical work of door knocking/soul-winning, preaching, encouraging, etc. and B; we assist them financially, being careful not to make them dependent on us for their financial needs while teaching them the importance of becoming self sufficient.
We were going into the country for four years before I surrendered to become a full time missionary and move to the country. We used to go 4 or 5 times a year and working with these pastors. We would have 'cram' teaching sessions with them. At times using our compound in Managua, or using a church in the mountains. We have also started a church at the property. All this time I knew that we needed an American Missionary living in the country to run the ministry and have a full time school in order to be more effective in what we were trying to do.
It got to the point that every time I would mention this need in my prayer God would speak to my heart. It was as if He was saying, "You are the man, you have the burden, you have a love for the people, you love to teach" My burden was growing stronger everyday, it came to the point that I thought about it all the time. I knew that I would never be happy until I surrendered to go.
In my heart I surrendered over a year before I resigned the church. My wife was on board, she has made three or four trips to the country and was well aware of what it was like. However, soon after we made this decision she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had to undergo a double mastectomy and the ordeal made me second guess our decision. Her doctors are confident that the cancer is all gone. They found it early and all test of the Lymph nodes did not reveal any cancer so they believe it was contained in the breast and the mastectomy took care of that. We return to the states every 6 months for follow-up check ups with her doctors and to get her medications.
I resigned as pastor in September of 2016 but my resignation was pending the call and installment of a new pastor. I stayed on long enough to lead the church through the process of finding a qualified candidate, and instructing them on the procedures of calling a pastor. I am proud to say that I believe God has sent the right man for our church. His name is Mark Leonard and I am proud to call him my pastor. I think the best days of Riverview Baptist Church are ahead. My last Sunday was Jan. 3, 2016. It was also our 25th anniversary Sunday and the first day of the new pastor.
ABOUT OUR PROPERTY: Bro. Mojica has donated one acre of property to the ministry. The acre of property has a well, an 480 sq. ft. concrete block house, a dorm building with 3 dorm rooms that is approximately 1000 sq. ft. and an open building that is about 900 sq. ft. We plan to enclose the open building and use it for a classroom and dining area for the Pastors School. We have converted two of the dorm rooms into an apartment for Pastor Ernesto. He is also our property caretaker. My wife and I live in the house, which we are in the process of enlarging in order to meet the ministry needs. We also use the house when we have our visitors from the states. It is also the place where we prepare all the meals for the men attending school.