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A Vocation of Service in Nicaragua
By Lilliam Reyna, CEPAD
CEPAD (El Consejo de Iglesias Pro-Alianza Denominacional) is the Council of Protestant Churches in Nicaragua. It seeks to serve the poor through community development, work for peace and reconciliation, and by promoting the values of the Kingdom of God. On a recent trip to Nicaragua to explore effective development programs, Bread editor Kimberly Burge met with CEPAD’s staff.
Lilliam Reyna, president of CEPAD’s board of directors, tells what a relatively small organization can accomplish through faith and hard work:
In 1972 Dr. Gustavo Parajón called all denominational leaders to join together and help out with the earthquake that destroyed Managua. This man of God and leader of the Nicaraguan people was able to break down denominational barriers and unite Baptists, Nazarenes, Apostolics, brothers and sisters from the Catholic Church, the Church of God—calling them to a work of service from a Biblical perspective. With this vision, it was possible to bring together many denominational leaders and begin work that has born fruits now for 36 years in Nicaragua.
Generally in the church, we only talk about spiritual matters. I believe that God’s Gospel is holistic. And CEPAD’s ministry is precisely that: holistic. It has to do with the spiritual part, but also with the social part. In CEPAD, the first workshops and training I had was in gender equity, where there is no difference between men and women. Women have a place [in leadership] and are listened to at CEPAD. Women are the best subjects [of development] because women administer resources better. That is one of the teachings I’ve received.
Every time I go to the communities, I share and I receive. You learn so much from everybody there. I rejoice knowing that CEPAD is training men and women, many of whom do not even know how to read. But they have been born with great leadership. And CEPAD is shaping and polishing that leadership.
CEPAD provides accompaniment to communities for six years. After six years that leadership is left prepared to confront problems and seek solutions from the central government, the municipal government, any non-governmental organization, for the problems they face. I feel that CEPAD has been a blessing from God for Nicaragua.
In a recent meeting, Dr. Parajón reflected on the passage from Judges about Gideon. Gideon had to confront 300,000-some soldiers. But the Lord told him that he would leave him with only 300 soldiers to fight the enemy. We are like Gideon’s army. We’re few; we’re not 300,000. Yet we are here because we have a vocation of service, because we’ve heard God’s call.
Like the Lord Jesus said, “I have not come to be served but to serve.” When that small quantity is willing to work, it can do much. And when God backs it up, well, we don’t doubt that the Lord will continue doing his part through these servants who remain here, seeking how to help our people – because that is God’s will.