516NOW began with a vision but no clear idea of how to implement that vision. We believed (and continue to believe) that God had given us the idea of working in a community to provide basic needs, and using that as an entry point to share the gospel. We felt as though the verse Matthew 5:16 perfectly captured the essence of this vision – “Let your light so shine before men, that they see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” So, we would do “good works” but if we stopped there, we would just be one more well-meaning NGO, leaving people physically fed but spiritually hungry.
We eventually developed a strategic intent that gave more specificity to this vision – “Building holy, prosperous and sustainable communities around the world.” And we purposefully placed no limits on what kinds of initiatives we would pursue; those would be suggested and guided by the communities in which we worked. However, whatever we do must meet those three guidelines – holy, prosperous and sustainable.
That vision and intent formed guardrails that guided us to work in Palacaguina Nicaragua for five years, building a chapel that serves as a base for ministry and with a worshipping congregation that models Matthew 5:16 every day, then a radio station, school buildings, an addition to the medical clinic, a sponsorship program for school children, a micro-finance business, well and water distribution system, sports clinics, donations of computers to schools, and a K-12 bi-lingual school. Along the way, we felt that God was using Palacaguina as a proving ground, a Beta site if you will, for His bigger plan (and our larger intent) to take this model and His saving grace to other target communities in Nicaragua and around the world.
Well, it just so happened (as a dear pastor friend is fond of saying, what that phrase really means is that God is in control) that we heard about a great need in another community where one of our former workers had moved. We investigated, did some due diligence, and began working in Diriamba, Nicaragua. Shortly thereafter, pastors in San Rafael del Norte asked for training. That led to a pastors’ conference and establishing a branch micro-finance operation in that mountain town. Meanwhile, two churches over the northern border in Honduras asked for help. Jaime Blandon – our Country Director – began visiting and providing assistance to the pastors there. We recognized that God was expanding our territory, but it seemed to be “in control.”
Recently, God has opened a door wide to establishing 516NOW in El Salvador and more recently, the Dominican Republic. Now, looking back, we see that God has led us, In the short space of 18 months, from ministry in one community in one country, to seven communities in four countries. We stand at the threshold of something that for us looks big, but for our God is just another move to bring the Good News to every person. We are at once thrilled to be a part of His kingdom army and a little anxious at what the future holds. We do not have the resources to fund and manage an organization across four countries. We do not have the people to staff such an organization. We have never done this before. We don’t know how these new communities will respond to our efforts. There are many other “we don’ts” or “we haven’ts” but that’s really not the issue. We serve a loving God who will stop at nothing to demonstrate His love for His creation. He is strong beyond all comparison, He is fearless and awe-inspiring, and His loving-kindness overwhelms us. He goes before us and we simply follow where He leads.
Stay tuned. This small chapter of God’s Redemption Plan for the world is playing out.
President 516 NOW INC