Date Entered: 1999
Major Ministries: Church planting, evangelism, youth and children's ministries
The Central American country of Nicaragua has three distinct regions: The Pacific lowlands, the Caribbean lowlands, and the north-central mountain range with about 40 volcanic peaks. Each area experiences differences in climate: The lowlands tend to be hot and humid while the mountains are cooler. More than one-fourth of the country’s population lives in the capital city of Managua.
Nicaragua’s Caribbean lowlands are known as the Mosquito Coast. It boasts Central America’s largest lake, home to the world’s only freshwater shark and numerous other species of unusual wildlife.
Nicaragua was originally inhabited by Indian tribes, then colonized by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. After gaining independence from Spain in 1821, Nicaragua became an independent republic in 1823.
General Somoza, head of the US-trained National Guard, seized power in 1937, starting a dynasty of dictatorship that his sons continued after his death. The Somozas were violently opposed by all levels of society. One of two groups organized to counter the Somoza regime was the Sandanistas who came to power in 1979. They nationalized the Somoza lands, waged a massive education campaign that reduced literacy by 37%, and introduced health programs that significantly reduced infant mortality.
However, the United States secretly lent military aid to the Sandanistas’ opponents, known as contras, until the Iran-Contra scandal led Congress to end US involvement in Nicaragua’s civil war.
With 96% of Nicaraguans claiming loyalty to Catholicism, many festivities throughout the year center around celebrations for patron saints, the most famous being San Sebastian in January, and Santiago in July.
ABWE personnel plan to establish Baptist churches, train national leaders through theological education by extension, and start works among the youth of Nicaragua, where almost half of the population is under the age of fifteen.