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The Tree of Life

Kristina (SP Managua) and her family live among and serve with marginalized communities in Nicaragua.  Together with their neighbors and nation, they long and pray for justice and peace in the midst of a broken, yet transforming, political system.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. // Revelation 22:1-2

What began on April 19th in Nicaragua as a small, student-organized protest in response to new government mandated social security reforms has sparked a nationwide outcry against the current political regime.

The protesting began rather small and innocuous but quickly escalated when the government responded by sending their own counter protesters and militant police force to the streets.  A number of student protesters, as well as one journalist, died. An un-quantified number of protesters were illegally imprisoned, and some were released with obvious signs of torture. The death count is now well over 70 people, and hundreds of others have been injured.

Prominent trademarks of the current administration are the “Trees of Life” that loom some fifty feet above the streets and roundabouts of Managua. These garish metallic trees are lit up at night and are scattered throughout the city.  They cost $20,000 a piece to construct and run up to $10,000 in monthly electric bills. The protesters have been burning the trees and pulling them to the ground as a sign of defiance. Initial violence subsided for a few weeks but has since flared up again in recent days.  Although protesters continue to face the threat of police violence, peaceful demonstrations continue daily, vigils are held for the lives of those killed, and ongoing protests remain as a sign of Nicaraguan solidarity and unity as a nation.

Amidst the crazy of the civil unrest, massive peaceful protest of over one million participants proved to be redemptive and productive. People marched in solidarity for peace, for change, for the end of media censorship, and for the end of violence against student protesters.  Nicaraguans have been returning food and goods that were previously looted from local grocery stores. Students stood face to face with the riot police—many of them peers—and began exchanging hugs instead.

Several days after the protesting began, the President rescinded the Social Security reforms he executed and put independent media sources—those not owed by the government—back on the air.  The President has agreed to dialogue with representatives from the government also from those challenging him and demanding that their voices be heard as well. These events are both a result of the bold actions of the people speaking out, their solidarity as a nation to say collectively, “No more,” as well as the fervent prayers of those in this nation and around the world.

Nicaragua is speaking, and we are living in and witnessing historic events.  The Nicaragua of today is not the Nicaragua of last month. We invite you to join in praying for peace and justice as the country continues in its pursuit to uproot the strongholds that produce corrupt and broken systems.  Pray with us through the vision of God’s holy city, that the true Tree of Life would break through and spring up in the midst of Managua, bringing healing to the people of this nation.

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