Norwich family's dream Nicaraguan mission
Norwich couple Hannah and Zac Wells will be moving to Nicaragua with their three small children later this year, fulfilling a dream they have each had for the last 20 years. Keith Morris reports.
The couple met as teenagers at the University of East Anglia in 2008 after Hannah had spent a year in Bolivia. Ever since then they have shared a dream to become Christian missionaries in Latin America.
They have been drawn to Nicaragua as one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest countries with 30% of the population living in poverty – on less than $3 a day – and a majority of families living without father figures present in the home.
Zac said: “From the age of 15 I have felt God speaking to me about being a missionary. I read about street kids in Brazil and that is when God first broke my heart for them and that part of the world. When I met Hannah, she had a similar passion and calling and we saw God develop that.”
Hannah said: “When we met, we shared a mutual interest in Latin America, missions and faith. We felt the Holy Spirit say we were going to get married – which we did in 2010.
“In 2012 we went to New Wine and heard Heidi Baker who leads a worldwide ministry called Iris Global. She told these amazing stories of God meeting the poorest of the poor and it sparked something in us. At the time we wanted to go straight to Latin America but we were advised by our church leaders that the timing wasn’t quite right.”
Soon after, the couple both felt God was still speaking to them about their shared dream.
Hannah said: “I had a vision of myself going into a really dark place and taking children out by the hand. I was leading a line of children by the hand and Jesus was there. And I felt he was calling me to be a mother and I was wrecked.”
Zac said: “I felt God was saying “go to the poorest and darkest place” and Nicaragua fitted into that category. Soon afterwards we met a couple of separate people who had spent time in Nicaragua, which seemed like confirmation to us.”
“So we sold all our things, packed up our lives and we went out to Heidi Baker’s Harvest School in South Africa for six weeks, where we heard from missionaries from all over the world. Then, in 2015, we went to Nicaragua for six weeks, as that is the place God had spoken to us about. God provided the money to fly out literally a few hours after we asked for it.”
A friend had shared with them a vision of a city by a lake at sunset with the twinkling lights coming on. Zac said: “In Nicaragua, we visited the city of Granada, where we have some friends, and we sat up on the hillside by the lake and we saw the lights gradually coming on across the city. We felt this was confirmation by God that this was the right place to go.”
During the visit they also connected with a ministry called Reap Granada and were impressed by what they saw.
The couple, now in their early thirties, returned to Norwich where Zac felt a bit frustrated but trained as a nurse, with Hannah being a stay-at-home mum. They are part of Gateway Vineyard Church in the city and say they grew and learnt an awful lot, besides having three children - Zebedee 6, Edith 5 and Margot 18 months.
And now the dream is finally about to become a reality after they agreed to go out and work with Reap Granada, which is based at a 70-acre farm at Campo de Coshecha. There is a multi-purpose pavilion for youth retreats, conferences, teaching, and worship; dorm space for 150 guests and a working farm.
The ministry started four house churches a year ago and now have 17. They are hoping to grow that to 40 in the next couple of years with the help of Zac and Hannah who will train up the churches leaders.
“Reap is completely invested in its community, connecting with people through work, sport, at the prison and at the city dump – they are in it long term,” said Hannah. “They have seen different generations of families become Christians and then really change the family dynamic. That really excites us.”
Zac said: “They are about community which is what we are all about. We just want to see people’s lives transformed by Jesus – and experience his peace and his hope and his love. Nine out of ten families in a community we visited in Nicaragua did not have a father figure. Fathers turn to drink or drugs or other women. We want to see men become what God has called them to be.”
Hannah said: “We are in it for the long haul. We are not planning on coming back unless God tells us to. The main thing is that we are being obedient to what we feel God is calling us into and giving him our ‘Yes’. Moving across the world to a developing country just happens to be what our ‘yes’ looks like. We are taking one step at a time and this is just the first one.
“Even the other mothers at the school gate are really exciting and intrigued about it. There is a sense of a big adventure around it for them.”
The couple are looking for people who will support their venture in both prayer and maybe financially, for at least the first couple of years. Costs will include flights, learning Spanish and living costs.
You can contact Zac and Hannah at: Zacharyandhannahwells@gmail.com
Pictured above are Zac and Hannah with their children Margot, Edith and Zebedee.