NICARAGUA – For many Nicaraguans, the last six months have been marked by injury, unexpected migration, business closings, jobs disappearing, economic retraction, relationship breakdown, even loss of life. Many Nicaraguans don’t know what the future holds for them and their families.

Our residence status forbids us from being involved in political activities, so I am not at liberty to share details. But I can share how World Renew and Resonate Global Mission are and will be part of the solution moving forward. Our traditional work in agriculture, health, livelihoods and infrastructure is continuing, and we have added three new components that need immediate attention.

Trauma is a psychological and emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. In light of the trauma Nicaraguans are suffering, especially over the last six months, we are currently training a core of 35 church and community leaders to become facilitators certified by the Trauma Healing Institute in the leading of healing groups. The groups promise a safe place where people can talk about their emotional wounds and wrestle with questions like “If God loves us, why do we suffer?” and “ How can wounds of the heart be healed?” We hope that each facilitator will be able to lead 5 groups within networks where we are already working, with a comprehensive goal of reaching 3,500 hurting people over the next several months.

Polarization is not new to Nicaragua; for decades politics has been a divisive arena. But in the last six months, the political sphere has heated up in ways that have divided colleagues, neighbors, churches, and families. It’s a tightrope walk to stay neutral. In a world of left, right, and neutral, World Renew and Resonate are proposing a new option: reconciliation.  In a pilot project, we are walking with leaders from 15 churches as they learn about conflict transformation. We participated in one of their meetings a few days ago and were impressed with these leaders’ commitment to be part of the solution as they brainstormed ways to repair the fractures in their churches and communities. Their action plan includes a varied list of commitments: pastoral messages that focus on peacebuilding, praying for unity on community prayer walks, engaging youth using drama, reaching out to families that have experienced a job loss, and meeting with and praying for local authorities.

Last year we introduced the principles of restorative justice to a core of urban leaders and had them apply it to local conflicts that flared up in their communities. This new approach to dealing with conflict was eye-opening: neighborhoods resolved issues that have plagued them for years and broken relationships were repaired. Our next task is to take this initiative to a level higher with another training that will certify leaders through the International Institute of Restorative Practices.

As foreigners living in Nicaragua, we are relatively immune to the consequences of the crisis here.  And yet we rub shoulders with nationals daily that are feeling the consequences. Please pray for our Nicaraguan partner agencies, especially the Nehemiah Center, that are taking the lead in these interventions with the desire to play a meaningful role in the restoration of this country.


Mark Vanderwees

Country Consultant
World Renew Nicaragua