Hersey and Central America
Before moving to Central America, my wife and I were house parents at a residential boarding school in Hershey, PA, to 12 and sometimes 13 middle school girls. We love kids and loved every opportunity to minister Christ, to invest the Word of God into their lives, and to model what a family structure is like with God in the center. We spent three years with the girls before they went on to high school and to their new student home. Since it had been a desire of mine for many years to be a missionary in Central America, we felt that God was leading us, and as our girls were moving on, this seemed like the perfect time to go.
My wife and I decided, through much prayer, to visit one of our affiliated churches in Central America. We spoke to Pastor Mike Stevens in Costa Rica about visiting him during Christmas. He was more than happy to have us. Needless to say, we had an exceptionally wonderful time there. After one week, my wife and I both had a conviction of ‘’amen’’ and felt that God was giving us the green light to join the team.
The following summer we moved to Costa Rica. Moving to a new place required a lot of adjustments. No matter what the geographical location, we have always wanted to be in God’s perfect will. We were not sure how long we would stay in Costa Rica. We would try it for a year and see what God would do.
Very quickly we were involved in all the church activities. Soul winning and team life were a lot of fun. I taught in the Bible college and absolutely loved it and loved spending time with the students. In any team anywhere, finding your place and purpose on the team is very important. We felt we were certainly contributing, but was this where we were to stay or was this preparation for another move? Would God use Costa Rica as a spring board to another ministry elsewhere? Also, our savings we were living on were quickly dwindling, as Costa Rica is one of the most expensive countries in Central America.
The First Visa Run
Our tourist visas were good for 90 days. Our first visa run was to Nicaragua. Immediately after crossing the border we were shocked by the contrast between the two countries. Poverty was striking as we passed from town to town. All we could think of was how great the need was. We traveled a couple of hours further to the capital city of Managua where a church member’s sister lived. She was very hospitable, offering us her house and car to use. We quickly got settled in to her home, crude in appearance with concrete walls and floors except for some kitchen tile, and a corrugated metal roof. For the few days there we decided to go soul winning. Our host was our interpreter. We got to know the spiritual climate and openness to the gospel. People were very respectful and listened to us with undivided attention.
After our three day visit our hearts were overjoyed with what we had experienced. In the bus, we started praying and asking God when He would have us visit Nicaragua again. We were unsure when it could be, but in our hearts we wanted to go back as soon as possible. We finally made it to the border and got our visas stamped. Now, it would be another 7 hour ride to San Jose. I looked at my visa renewal and saw the usual 90 day stamp; however, my wife’s visa was only for 5 days. We felt that God had spoken and all we could do was to return; so, in 5 days we were back in Managua.
Burden for Nicaragua
This time we decided to have a Bible study with our new friend, her family, and friends. It was our first Greater Grace Bible study in Managua, the first of many more to come. At least 30 people came. We truly felt that God was moving and could hardly wait to do this on a regular basis. We made several visits to Nicaragua. Each time our hearts grew hungrier for that mission field. 2 months after our first visit the burden for these people had grown so strong that we decided to move there.
At first, we stayed with our friend but within 2 weeks we had found our own place. We had peace about our new home. Our landlord asked if we were Christians. She was extremely happy, as she had been praying that her renters would be Christians. It was a match made in heaven, even though this very crude house with concrete walls and a metal roof was far from what either of us would have naturally chosen. Except for a shower, we had no running water in the house. There was a kitchen sink on the back patio where we would do our dishes and my wife would learn to wash clothes by hand the Nicaraguan style. But this was our place in the heart of the city. We quickly realized that we received a lot of attention. Each time we walked down the street to our house we felt constantly stared at. My wife and I joked that we were like a circus attraction that had come to town.
We learned to use the public bus system as our means of transportation. Every time we stood at a bus stop and a bus pulled up all eyes on the bus turned to us. It was a strange feeling to be the minority and truly a spectacle. We had never experienced anything like that before. We were the only ones who looked like us in our entire neighborhood. This extra attention proved to be a double edged sword. People were curious about our church and many came to satisfy their curiosity, but at the same time many would come to our door and beg for money and food and other items.
Church Services and Bible Club
We held our church services on our fairly large front porch which was a common occurrence for many small churches in the city. We held a midweek service, a Saturday Bible club for kids and a Sunday evening service. We desired to have a Sunday morning service, but the heat of the metal roof that time of day was too much to bear as the temperature was often 102 – 104 F.
We started to feel somewhat uneasy hearing constant warnings about the dangers of being gringos and living where we lived. We knew God had called us and He would keep us safe. We knew that the people we had met and our next door neighbors were very friendly and happy to have us there. If we could get to know all our neighbors and they got to know us, it would become much safer for us. So, we started door knocking and inviting people to church and thus we slowly got to know the neighborhood and they got to know us. We felt that if anything ever happened to us, we would have many run to our aid. Many started coming to our services as well. It was truly a dynamic time and we were so happy for the lives that God touched in our neighborhood.
After a year we did have to move to a safer and cooler house because of the heat and the advice of our doctor. Every Saturday we travel to the heart of the city to do the Bible Club. We have been truly blessed by what God has allowed us to be a part of and by God’s grace we continue to minister in Managua and other cities. By Pastor Ken Davis
The Davises moved back to the USA in July 2016. Their disciples continue the work in Nicaragua. God is faithful.