How God brought us to His mission & our unique approach
516NOW began in early 2011 when John Barrett, David Rhodes, and another gentleman took an exploratory trip to Nicaragua. The group met with Jaime Blandon – an old contact with whom David had worked while serving at another church. David’s church and Jaime collaborated to construct seven church buildings in communities around Condega, Nicaragua. As they toured those sites, several churches were closed or had dwindled dramatically in membership. God’s message was clear – simply constructing church buildings wasn’t going to be enough. However, in neighboring Palacagüina, a local church was meeting in a rented home. Out of space and facing an uncertain future, as the landlord was attempting to sell the building, it was also clear that God had church building in mind for this town.
That summer, John and David led a Milestones Church group to Palacagüina and major progress was made on the construction of a new church building. Dental services were provided to residents, local pastors were trained, and a children’s program was conducted. This multi-pronged effort was the first indication of the broad-based ministry that was to become the foundation for 516NOW.
In early 2012, John, David and Scott Votey met with community leaders: the mayor, superintendent of schools, chief of police, and director of the medical clinic. After expressing a desire to share the love of Christ by helping meet the needs of the community, they all welcomed 516NOW’s involvement. The mayor shared a list of one hundred goals she had for the community and invited 516NOW to help with any or all of them.
With a clear vision of the opportunities for ministry and growth, the team discussed the opportunity that God was providing during a lay-over in Atlanta. Each noted that core ideas expressed in the book When Helping Hurts were confirmed by the recent trips to Nicaragua. Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” came to mind and perfectly described their mission. They all agreed that the time to follow God’s prompting was urgent and 516NOW was born. <See Projects for a list of accomplishments>
The amazing thing that God has shown is the real synergy of operating under a single banner and seeking to meet the full scope of a community’s needs: physical and spiritual. As we have continued God’s work, we have seen the community rallying around 516NOW.
A box of 516NOW t-shirts was stolen in 2012 and the shirts started showing up all over Palacagüina!
(Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm, but God intended it for good)
The clinic painted the 516NOW logo on the side of the building and the local baseball team (former national champions) had the 516NOW logo put on their jerseys and it will soon be painted on the baseball stadium.
(Psalm 64:9 …they will proclaim to works of God and ponder what He has done)
Outside organizations visiting Palacagüina (World Race Teams, churches from Nebraska & Canada, and college student groups) all operate under the 516NOW name.
(Psalm 20:5 … we lift up our banners in the name of our God)
In the summers of 2013 & 2014, 516NOW mission teams were welcomed by the city with parades through the center of town.
(Psalm 84:11 … the Lord bestows favor and honor…)
The mission of 516NOW continues to develop based on those core ideas birthed in the Atlanta airport in 2011. We believe that the pattern of development that is being implemented in Palacagüina is vital, sustainable, and transferable to other communities within Nicaragua and around the globe. While 516NOW is still in its infancy, we believe future possibilities are as wide as the needs of the world and as feasible as the unlimited supply of God