Guest Post by David Luttrell
We didn’t really know what to expect out of HOI’s first trip to Nicaragua. New country, new community development partner, new village, new culture, new cuisine … it was going to be a new experience. Although we didn’t quite know what to expect, we knew we were going to experience something special. What we found in Nicaragua’s northern department of Jinotega, August 10-17, blew us away.
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of “revival” is “the action of reviving something after decline or discontinuance; restoration to general use…” The word revival came to mind during our stay in Los Robles—a beautiful coffee-growing region where I had the pleasure of spending a week with 18 other trip participants for a week of community development work. What was restored to activity after a period of quiescence? Most apparent was the community center that began a humble transformation to what will be a completed medical clinic in several more weeks. However, in addition to the physical work we did, there was also an incredible revival fostered in the relationships built throughout the week. Many of these newly-awakened characteristics are ones that I too easily forget from my office perch of productivity and perpetual tasks in Dallas, Texas.
The Nicaragua trip was coined a “discipleship trip” because we were in Nicaragua to grow as disciples in Christ, share his glorious Truth in love, and learn how HOI can partner with local Nicaraguan communities to promote dignity and opportunity that the villagers there are currently under-resourced to achieve themselves. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 aptly applied: “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” This was our mission of discipleship that characterized every aspect of the trip—from our interaction with each other to our time spent with the villagers. Tremendous fellowship filled the dining hall of Finca el Peten, the organic coffee farm we called home for the week. Authentic community transcended language barriers with laughs, smiles and time spent (literally) in the trenches together: mixing cement, twisting baling wire or constructing cinder block walls.
Our work days on the medical clinic in Los Robles were simple but not without effort, and our mornings, meals and nights at Finca el Peten were modest yet extremely rich. The quality of living was commensurate with our quality of giving: Life was unhurried, uncomplicated and unbelievable. It was a refreshing revival of how to live, without distraction, the good life that our design begs of us—to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). What unadulterated joy to live in authentic relationship with one’s Creator and one’s community. Loving God and loving others just comes naturally when we step outside ourselves for a few days and rest in God’s Word, dive deep into knowing others and love strangers because they are loved by God, not because we have anything to gain from the labor.
Our week in Nicaragua was a display of God’s faithfulness and love. We were given an opportunity to work alongside people of humble means that had such rich relational blessings to offer us. We were immersed in a beautiful place and blissful pace of life that created margin for really getting to know each other and our new Nicaraguan friends. We rested in our Lord, rejoiced in the provision of our Savior and lived out of the abundance that His love brings. We loved because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Now we’re back in Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Charlottesville and Tampa. The nineteen of us are now far removed from the majestic mountain views, coffee tree shade and manual labor during afternoon rain showers. But what was gained during the trip need not be lost. What was gained with a clearer perspective of Christ, and our mission remains the same—the revival can continue.
“Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.” Where else can a spiritual quickening take place but in the individual life? There is no abstract “church” which can be revivified apart from the men and women who compose it … One consequence of our failure to see clearly the true nature of revival is that we wait for years for some supernatural manifestation that never comes, overlooking completely our own individual place in the desired awakening…The man that will have God’s best becomes at once the object of the personal attention of the Holy Spirit … The plain Christian of today must experience personal revival before he or she can hope to bring renewed spiritual life to his church.
— A.W. Tozer, The Size of the Soul
Si Dios nos permite (Lord willing), every day can be a Nicaraguan day.
David Luttrell led the inaugural discipleship trip to Nicaragua August 10–17, 2013. Luttrell is an HOI Board member and the senior economic analyst and special assistant to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.