Editor’s Note: This snapshot was written by a Live Global volunteer writer.
“Hey brothers!” Abel said as he and his wife came to life on the video call. Abel and his wife Niky are Live Global partners serving in Nicaragua.
Tony, Live Global team member and our invaluable translator, made introductions. Already, I liked Abel and Niky. They had warm smiles. Easy laughs. Light in their eyes.
Real people with a real mission.
Meet Abel and Niky
Abel and Niky Solano call Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, home. But their story reaches far past even this city of more than a million and into surrounding regions, rural and poor, lacking access to clean water, and thick with malaria. While the needs of one church would be enough to keep them busy, Abel and Niky are pouring their lives into nearly 30 churches.
After spending more than an hour on that video call with Abel and Niky one Wednesday night, I better understand why they’ve chosen this life. In fact, they make their motives no secret.
“I just wanted to live for Jesus,” Abel explained in Spanish, and Tony translated to English. After an evangelistic campaign where seven-year-old Abel had heard the gospel, he asked his mother, “How could a father exchange his son for someone else? I didn’t understand how a father could turn over his son for me.” His mother had explained how God had given us Jesus because of His massive love for us, and Abel had put his faith in Jesus Christ. “My future changed forever.”
Although Niky’s story began differently, it ends the same way—or rather, has the same spiritual beginning. For many years, Niky clung to a memory of a prayer she had prayed as a small child. Whenever the Holy Spirit convicted her heart, she’d look back at that time and think, “Yeah, but I prayed, I remember I prayed.” Having grown up in a Christian home, Niky was doing “all the church things,” and she viewed herself as a good person. By the world’s standard, she was a good person.
But when she attended Palabra de Vida in Mexico—the Word of Life Bible Institute, she realized she didn’t really know Jesus. She met other students at Palabra de Vida and saw in them a difference: “They really loved him, you know, they had a passion for Jesus—and I said, ‘Why am I not like them? Like that?’” She discovered she’d been trying to act like a Christian when she really wasn’t a follower of Christ. At Palabra de Vida, she finally understood and received the gospel. “It was so great because the doubt and uncertainty were gone,” Niky explained. “I had peace. Everything was completely different then.” This pivotal moment led her to the same place as Abel: “Just like my husband said, I want to serve the Lord because of love and gratitude for what he’s done.”
And the Solanos are doing exactly that.
Nicaragua: A Home of Beauty, Conflict, and Religious Bondage
As I asked questions and Tony translated, Niky and Abel painted a picture of their home: the 16 active volcanoes, earthquake tremors, jungles, cities, happy people, and good coffee. Nicaragua is hedged in by water on both sides and etched with the history preserved in its many colonial cities from the time of the conquest of the Americas. However, political conflict and state control over religious activities also characterize their country, and Niky and Abel asked for prayer in the midst of these challenges.
Roman Catholicism grips the middle and upper class sector of the country. Abel explained, “Most of the churches in Managua and Nicaragua preach the prosperity gospel–you know, ‘give me your money and God will bless you.’”
But as it turns out, many of the people in Abel and Niky’s church have actually come out of Roman Catholicism. Abel explained that these people are coming “primarily as a result of prayer. God just brings people who are interested in knowing what the Bible says.”
Planting and Watering Seeds of Faith in the True God
And as we chatted, Abel and Niky painted a picture for me from which I deciphered the truth they didn’t say about themselves: they are servants seeking to fill needs. Abel was quick to discredit himself, saying that while they plan and work, God is the one who is doing the real work. His words reflect Paul’s: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Abel and Niky plant and water. A significant part of that work involves counseling and discipleship. In Managua, many unsaved people have come to them for marriage counseling. These couples need wisdom and help, and they are hopeful that they can find these things with the Solanos. Beyond marriage counseling, people come to the Solanos for counsel in family and parenting issues, and university-aged young people come to them seeking counsel for decisions about studies, careers, and relationships. When I asked how counselees find them, they simply explained that word-of-mouth references bring people in. Within a few months, many of their unsaved counselees can be found consistently attending the church over which Abel is pastor.
While counseling and discipleship keep Abel & Niky busy in their church and city, they also go great lengths to reach people outside those perimeters. In the rural communities beyond Managua, there are churches and pastors who need encouragement and support, and it is to them that Abel–and Niky, when she is able–ventures to meet needs.
Of his wife, Abel said, “She really has a gift for service. She’s very compassionate. She cares for the sick. She’s really good at seeing what needs to be done and doing it.”
While I can perfectly envision Niky in that environment, it was the picture of the ordinary that they painted that struck me the most, perhaps: they are like me. They are like you.
“My wife loves the ocean,” Abel told me in English, grinning. “You know, me–I like the office, reading, books.” And coffee. He had mentioned that earlier.
A Love Story Romantico
I asked how they met, and Abel said Niky would have to tell the story, because Niky is more–I managed to catch this word–romantico.
Niky and Abel met while working at a Palabra de Vida camp, and there they formed a friendship. At the time, Abel was Niky’s boss. Abel began helping with Bible studies and preaching in Niky’s church, which was not too far from his own, and in 2018, they were married. After Niky told this story, Abel spoke in Spanish and laughed as if he had made a joke. Tony translated: “He says he stole her from her church.” Fifteen months ago, Abel and Niky’s family grew; they celebrated the birth of their first child, Abby. Thus, while much of Abel’s work is outside of the walls of their home, much of Niky’s ministry is found within them.
God Is Working And We All Have a Role
One of the things I wanted to ask most was how Abel and Niky had seen God work in the past year or two. Abel pondered this. “Buena pregunta.”
Abel pointed to how the Solanos have seen their ministry grow, people seeking them for counseling, and even the willingness of people to ask him for counsel, despite Abel’s relatively young age in comparison to other counselors. Niky said that a number of new people have come to their church recently, and some have become faithful members. Tony translated her words: “People are looking for answers; people are seeking.”
When asked what challenges they face and where they could use prayer, Abel and Niky mentioned several key things. As the state exercises control over church activities, purposes, and finances, the Solanos need wisdom for how to respond. Another challenge is balance, Abel said. He asked prayer for their marriage as they navigate the demands of ministry and priorities. Finally, they asked for prayer for support–that God would provide for their needs. The Solanos’ church and the organization they work with for church planting help provide some of their support, but this is where partnership with Live Global plays a key role.
Abel and Niky faithfully serve in the church planting and counseling role God has called them to in their home country. And North Americans are invited to come alongside them in relationship, prayer, finances, and other support to join what God is doing in Nicaragua through them. So far, North Americans have prayed over the work Abel and Niky are doing, and they’ve shared some of the financial burden by giving of their resources. Soon and Lord willing, a North American church will send a short-term team to do pastors training alongside Abel and Niky on the ground.
This example of partnership is just one of the many Live Global would love to connect you to. We believe that any skillset, any amount of money, and of course every prayer can be used for Kingdom work in serving indigenous ministry leaders across the globe.Learn More about the Solanos Explore All Live Global Partners
My final question for the Solanos was where they find joy in their ministry and lives.
Niky emphasized the joy of watching someone else, who because of God’s calling, has left behind an old life and sacrificed much to follow Christ. Tony translated her words for me: “And they’re happy serving the Lord where they are, God providing for them, and they’re rejoicing.”
Abel said, “The very best part–even when there are challenges, even when there are problems, even when there’s not much to eat–is seeing transformed lives: lives transformed by the gospel. There’s just nothing more beautiful than seeing somebody start to walk with Christ. Yeah, that joy is contagious.” He laughed. “That is great stuff. That’s the best.”