By Rob Stennett
The team of Every Home for Christ pioneer missionaries feared they wouldn’t make it home alive. Hazardous conditions conspired against them—an uncharted river, suffocating heat and poisonous snakes that hung like vines. The plan was to share the Gospel with one of the most remote Miskito tribes, an indigenous people living deep in the Nicaraguan jungle. Just reaching the tribe required landing a crop plane on a strip of dirt and trekking a full day up the river. Throughout the journey, the international team battled with oppressive heat and a suffocating blanket of humidity. But they would not turn back. They wanted to see firsthand the incredible work with Miskito tribes led by Pastor Isaac Estrada, National Director of Every Home for Christ in Nicaragua.
Isaac began this work because he knew there were already evangelistic efforts to share the Gospel in heavily-populated areas, but many tribes in the heart of his country had still never heard about Jesus. He felt a mandate, “Our Lord Jesus spoke to me and told me to evangelise them house by house.” Isaac formed a plan to take teams into the remote area. They wanted to take the gospel story to a region oppressed by superstitions and fears. “Most Miskito people want us to get rid of the sorcerers who get them sick, especially their children,” Isaac said. This is a group of people who needs the hope of Jesus—a group waiting to hear the Gospel.
“This was a group who had not heard the Gospel for 400 years.”
It sounds like something Christians should be doing—taking hope and reaching the unreached. But it is costly and difficult to reach the Miskito people, which is why the last documented missionary effort to do so was led by the Moravians over 400 years ago. It requires a significant investment of money, time and safety just to contact these tribes. Isaac wanted to show the visiting Every Home for Christ team just how difficult it was, so he took them in a small boat with a rusty body to Cabo Gracias A Dios. Legend has it that Columbus gave this part of the famous Miskito Coast its name, which is Spanish for “Cape Thank God,” after escaping a storm on his final voyage in 1502.
On their trek, the team navigated constant challenges like not having enough food and supplies to make it up the coast. “We had to trade Coke bottles of gasoline for supplies along the way,” one team member explained. “We docked the boat, shared the message of Jesus with the nearest tribe and prayed that someone would trade with us so we didn’t run out of things to eat.”
Right before the Atlantic River, the team reached a small canal where their motorised boat couldn’t travel further. A guide with a canoe carried their bags while they hiked toward the tribe. “There were vines, snakes, unsettling noises, crocodiles and spiders,” another team member said. “I felt like Indiana Jones.”
But the prize for this team wasn’t a medallion or a lost treasure; it was simply walking into a hut and telling the family inside, “You are beautifully and wonderfully made. There is a creator who cares about you.” Many in the tribe were honoured that the team would go through so much to bring them this message.
Later, the team brought out a small projector and showed a Christian film to the entire village. The indigenous people marvelled at the story, and many gave their lives to God. Others flocked to the team asking for prayer. Their faith was palpable, and miracles happened right in front of the team’s eyes. “We saw deliverance and healing of bad tumours. Our Lord does all these things when we pray for them,” Isaac said. “One woman came to me with a burning fever,” a team member explained. “I prayed for her, and the fever was gone.”
The religious leaders and witch doctors were not happy with the missionary team. Jesus was healing the sick through the visitors’ prayers, and they were not asking for anything in return. “Our visits ruin the sorcerers´ business,” Isaac explained. “They get even angrier when their witchcraft does not do anything to us.” On the trip back down the river, the team’s boat got stuck in the mud. Their guide jumped out to rescue it, but the boat with the baggage was following too closely behind.
The riverboat smashed into the guide and snapped his ribs. The team couldn’t make it back without their guide, but they didn’t give into fear. They helped the guide to safety and prayed for God to heal him. The guide wasn’t a believer; he was just doing a job. But after the prayer, his ribs were healed, and he gave his life to Jesus at that moment. On the flight back, as the team reflected on the journey, they thought it was a perfect snapshot of an Every Home for Christ mission. Everyone needs a chance to know the living God. The Nicaraguans living in remote locations were just as deserving as anyone in a big city where it’s easier and more costeffective to reach them.
“We believe these people deserve the same chance to know Jesus that we all take for granted,” a team member said. Eight years after Isaac began sharing the Gospel to the Miskito people, the message has spread at an extraordinary rate. Over 50,000 people have given their lives to Jesus and been baptised. And 15,000 homes have been reached, hut by hut, this year alone. The Every Home for Christ Nicaragua team has discipled hundreds of new leaders from the native tribes.
This was a group who had not heard the Gospel for 400 years. The churches the missionaries built long ago were dilapidated and empty. Before, when Miskitos prayed, it was to spirits they hoped wouldn’t hurt them.
Through the efforts of the Nicaraguan Every Home for Christ team, the Miskito people learned a different story. They were taught the Scripture and realised that they could preach Jesus themselves. They could be filled with the Holy Spirit. They could be pastors and missionaries. And they understood that the creator of everything saw them deep in the Nicaraguan jungle, even when no one else did.