Nicaragua mission pioneer called home
Following a three-year battle with cancer, Rev. Sándor Argüello, Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) first missionary to Nicaragua, was called home by his Lord Saturday January 14, 2012 in Managua, Nicaragua. He was in his home city to pursue alternate medical treatment.
In accordance with Nicaraguan law, he was buried this morning (Monday, January 16). His wife, Digna arrived late Sunday evening from Edmonton for the service held in the cemetery chapel. A bus carried Iglesia Luterana Sínodo de Nicaragua (ILSN) pastors, deaconesses, and church members from the mission centre in Chinandega to attend the service.
LCC’s mission executive Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel was in Nicaragua and preached at the funeral service, which was jointly conducted by current ILSN president Rev. Luis Turcios and president-elect Rev. Marvin Picado.
Rev. Argüello was born in Nicaragua but came to Canada with his family as refugees in 1988 during the Nicaraguan civil war between the Sandinistas and Contras. Settling in Ottawa he became involved with LCC’s Spanish-language mission and received encouragement to pursue seminary studies. He graduated from Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (St. Catharines, Ontario) in 1995 and served at Zion Lutheran Church in Rimbey, Alberta for two years. He accepted a call from Lutheran Church–Canada in 1997 to serve as a missionary evangelist in Nicaragua.
In an interview with The Canadian Lutheran before leaving to serve in his homeland he explained that “in Nicaragua and Spanish countries, everybody knows and believes there is a God, and that God is very righteous and just. When we came to the Lutheran church we realized that the same God who is so righteous and so strong is the same God who sent His own Son to die for us. So we saw the other face of God… Our work there will be to tell them that there is hope in Jesus.”
The Lord provided a catalyst for proclamation in October 1998 when Hurricane Mitch hit the Chinandega area where Rev. Argüello served. The torrential rain caused a mudslide killing more than 3000 people. The pastor, his wife, and members of his young, small congregation mobilized to provide the hope of the Gospel alongside emergency relief food and supplies. The pastor’s ongoing communication via fax and email provided ongoing information about the disaster, which generated an unprecedented outpouring of financial support from LCC. Hurricane Mitch was a turning point in the life of the mission as congregations became established around Chinandega.
Within ten years, Rev. Argüello presided over ILSN’s founding convention in January 2008. He resigned his call effective December 31, 2008 and returned to Canada where he remained on the roster of LCC’s ABC District while undergoing cancer treatments.
“In a very real way, Rev. Sandor Argüello will always be thought of as a father of the Nicaraguan church,” commented LCC President Robert Bugbee. “My recent attendance at its Third Convention left me amazed again at how the Lord started with the efforts of this man and planted a family that is growing and maturing.” The president, who wanted to visit Rev. Argüello in Managua but was unable due to the pastor’s weakened immune system, encouraged prayers for the Argüello family. “I never imagined his loved ones would have to say farewell so soon. God keep them close to the Christ whom Sandor was honoured to trust and confess.”