The most adventurous road trip I have taken with my wife, Terrie, without a doubt, was to Nicaragua.
I had been invited to preach in churches that were planted by a missionary and consult on starting a Bible college for Nicaraguan pastors. Because of the instability of the country, our church deacons recommended that we bring with us two men who were experienced police officers with a background in military reconnaissance.
On the morning of this adventure-fated day, we distributed food to residents who lived just outside the citywide dump on the outskirts of Managua and also visited a church about 500 yards away. We then headed into the mountains to the city of Matagalpa in a van with a hired driver about 50 yards behind a lead car. As we approached a bridge spanning the Rio Grande de Matagalpa, the lead car radioed that we should hold our position because there was trouble on the bridge.
Apparently, the Sandinista guerrillas, representing the socialist party of Nicaragua, were making some sort of political statement up ahead. The reason was lost on us, but the fact that they had blocked the bridge and were demanding extortion payments for anyone wanting to cross was not.
Because of the reputation some Central American countries have for kidnapping foreigners, the police officers accompanying us had an immediate and uneasy feeling about our situation. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man on a motorcycle and dressed in black appeared beside our van and said in Spanish, “If you want to have some safety, I know a shortcut. Pay me and follow me.”
Now we were following a stranger on a motorcycle down a dirt road into the rainforest — the perfect scene for a kidnapping.
After about four miles, the man headed back toward the river. We came to a place where the river was much narrower, and our driver suggested that if we pushed from behind, the van could probably make it across. What else could we do? The men got out and pushed while the driver steered.
Halfway across the river, the van began to float and almost tipped over. Thankfully, the rear tires hit a large boulder. We caught up to it and kept pushing as the driver spun the wheels. Somehow — miraculously — we made it across and continued on to Matagalpa where we had a fruitful few days of ministry.
Looking back, it’s an amazing memory. In the …