Corn Island, Nicaragua, is home to about 7,500 people. The people of Corn Island, largely isolated, are kind and welcoming. And they need to hear the gospel message. So it was that 26 people, including 15 young people mostly from Highland Academy in Tennessee, United States, found themselves on this small island in the Caribbean.
The It Is Written mission team spent almost two weeks in February ministering to these people. The team, led by It Is Written missions coordinator Jack Phillips and Jon D’Avanzo of Nica Ministries, used a multi-faceted approach. There were evangelistic meetings held each evening in three locations; a medical clinic that treated more than 200 people; a school building project; radio broadcasting; and distribution of humanitarian aid.
Upon arrival, the team quickly settled into tropical life. Mornings started with a wonderful breakfast of rice, beans, papaya, and other island fare made by the hotel staff. Meals were eaten on the open-air veranda overlooking the boat harbor. The veranda proved to be the perfect place to worship together and exchange experiences of the day.
After breakfast, it was off to various ministry endeavors. The building project, medical clinic, radio broadcasts, and humanitarian projects were on the daily schedule with the bulk of the team working on building a 200-student school to serve the island. Every brick laid brought the opening of the school one step closer to reality. Hundreds of young people will learn about Jesus there, providing a ripple effect into the community.
Due to the heat and humidity, the team ceased work by lunch. Afternoons provided a chance to experience the culture of the island, whether a bus tour, going to the beach, or an offshore excursion. Besides providing great memories, these outings afforded the opportunity to get better acquainted with the locals.
After dinner, it was time for the meetings. They were held in three different outdoor locations on the island, with an estimated 250 people in attendance. Bible workers, sponsored by It Is Written, had worked in the community weeks before the meetings, so there were already some people on the path to giving their hearts to Jesus. Over 20 people have been baptized as a result of the meetings. In fact, the local churches were so excited about doing evangelism that they have since done another series and will be doing another one in July.
The largest church on Corn Island is located on the beach, so on Sabbath, as soon as the service was over, everyone walked out the front door and onto the beach to witness 10 baptisms right in the ocean. “The baptisms in the ocean will forever be a highlight for me,” Phillips, who co-officiated, said.
Things don’t always go smoothly on mission trips. Upon arrival, all of our projectors were confiscated by customs. But, praise God, we were able to get two of them back! Our permission to hold a medical clinic was revoked upon arrival. But, praise God, the mayor of the island worked to get it reinstated! It rained frequently and often during our meetings. But, praise God, people wouldn’t leave. In fact, even more came! “God wins, the devil loses!” Gordon Guild, who ran the medical clinic, said.
God worked on this trip in ways that we didn’t plan. Will Labrenz, the chaplain of Highland Academy, recounts an interesting story:
“Often during our morning worship time on the veranda, other customers were nearby witnessing our worship and praise songs. One morning, a couple from Germany, being professed Buddhists, stopped me to ask if being a Christian made a positive difference in my life. I shared that Jesus gives my life peace and purpose and explained that is why our mission team was here. Upon further discussion, I offered them a Steps to Christ if they would be willing to read it. They accepted!”
Locals weren’t the only ones who were affected by the mission trip. “This trip was such a life changing experience,” Adriel Garcia, a student at Highland Academy said. “The people’s love for God and their kindness to us inspires me to be more like that. I pray every day for the people of Corn Island and their relationship with Jesus. I hope to see them again soon.”
The original version of this commentary was posted by It Is Written.