Managua Violence a Danger to Merge Facilitator, Family

MANAGUA, NICARAGUA (July 9, 2018) – Serve Globally is raising funds to help a native Nicaraguan Merge trip facilitator who is caught in the middle of violence that has killed at least 230 people amid clashes between the government and protestors over the past two months.

Martin Bonilla and his wife live in Managua, the capital city, where most of the clashes have taken place. “At this point Martin is staying in his home as much as possible,” said Dale Lusk, ECC director of global engagement.

“There have been protests against the government, arrests, shootings, and random violence as the country heads toward civil war,” Lusk said, adding that there have been killings in the Bonillas’ neighborhood. The government has instituted a 6 p.m. curfew in Managua.

People are protesting the dictatorial rule of President Daniel Ortega and corruption of his administration that has contributed to the country’s plight as the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. He first came to power in 1979, when the Sandinistas defeated the country’s dictator, Anastasio Somoza. He stepped down in 2002, then was elected president in 2007 and re-elected. His current term expires in 2024.

Martin has been the Merge trip facilitator for central and northern Nicaragua for about eight years, Lusk said. He has a background in community development and has been organizing trips for Covenant teams through Merge, a ministry of Serve Globally.

The violence has caused Merge to cancel its trips to Nicaragua. “Because of the shootings and roadblocks, Martin has been unable to get to the airport to help Merge with other teams in Central America to earn money as Merge staff,” Lusk said.

“There are currently no plans to evacuate Martin and his wife, although that is an option Serve Globally has given us,” Lusk said. “The issue is where and how they would maintain their lives in another location.” As Nicaraguan citizens, they have few options.

They did evacuate their son, Kelsey, who was almost kidnapped and forced to participate in student protests against the government. The protests are violent due in large part to the government crackdown, Lusk said. Kelsey is now living in Chicago on a tourist visa with his sister, who recently graduated from North Park University and intends to stay here due to the violence in her country.

Martin has access to a Merge bank account, “but we need to fund-raise all of that money,” Lusk said. Anyone wanting to help can contribute to the Serve Globally International Benevolence fund.

Contributions can be made online, and donors should include Martin’s name in the memo field. Checks should be made to the ECC with a note that it is for the Serve Globally International Benevolence Fund # 5003-2246-50-30 with Martin’s name in the memo field.

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Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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