How many Christians are there in Nicaragua?
There are 6.9 million people in Nicaragua, of which 6.5 million are Christian (95%). Though most Nicaraguans are Christian, believers are still increasingly vulnerable to persecution.
How are Christians persecuted in Nicaragua?
Hostility towards Christians in Nicaragua continues to intensify, with those who speak out against President Ortega and his government viewed as destabilising agents.
The situation has deteriorated significantly since 2018, when widespread protests broke out against the country’s dictatorial regime. Christians have been among those to raise their voice – but it’s coming at an alarming cost.
Christian leaders have been harassed and arrested, Christian properties seized, Christian schools, TV stations and charities closed, and churches monitored and intimidated. Even those who provided shelter and medical assistance during the protests in 2018 continue to suffer retribution years later. Last Easter, police banned processions during Holy Week. Recent changes to the law have been used to label church leaders as terrorists and coup-plotters, and there are suggestions that the government wants to control church affairs such as tithes and offerings.
The government’s aim is not simply to silence the voice of Christians but, given their influence in the country, to hinder their credibility and stop their message from spreading. The situation is deteriorating rapidly.
Meet 'Pastor Dario'
“We are clinging to God and devote much time to prayer and evangelism. We believe prayer has helped us endure this persecution.” pastor dario, who experiences hostility from the authorities
What’s life like for Christians in Nicaragua?
Pastor Dario* used to be part of the group that now targets him. He was only 14 when he joined the Sandinista Liberation Front – a group that is fiercely atheist. Things began to change years later, when Dario’s wife met Jesus – though his initial reaction was anger.
“From the moment my wife met Jesus, I did not want to go to church or know anything about Him,” he says. “I pressured her to leave Christianity.” Eventually he started to go to church, but with bad motives. “Every time I went, my intention was to make her jealous and bother her,” he remembers.
One night, Dario had a vision of Jesus in a dream. “He told me to accept Him,” he says. “I woke up my wife and told her about the dream – and immediately accepted Jesus.”
During protests against President Ortega’s government in 2018, Pastor Dario took to the streets with a group of Christians, publicly and boldly praying for protestors and anyone wounded in the protests. He was accused of inciting violence and labelled an enemy of the government. Authorities cracked down on the church, imposing a ban on religious processions in the street, preventing church leaders from holding services or Masses and summoning them for regular questioning. They’ve even painted a mark on him – a symbol identifying him as a hostile person. He and his family get daily threats.
Despite the pressure and the mark on his house, Dario continues the work and mission he was called to years ago as he and his wife lead the church.
“We are dedicated to pastoring,” he says. “We are clinging to God and devote much time to prayer and evangelism. We believe prayer has helped us endure this persecution.”
*Name changed for security reasons
Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua has risen 20 places on the World Watch List, after appearing in the top 50 for the first time last year. This reflects a rise of five points in the persecution score, caused by increases in pressure in all spheres of life. President Ortega’s use of state power, combined with the manipulation of the legal framework, has made it increasingly possible to silence civil society actors who do not align with the ruling party's interests.
The harassment and attempt to suffocate the church have become more direct. This was particularly in retaliation to church leaders and other prominent Christians publicly calling for the rule of law to be respected – especially during and after the election period.
How can I help Christians in Nicaragua?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Nicaragua. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors strengthens the persecuted church in Nicaragua by providing Christian literature, discipleship training, emergency relief aid, legal advice and education for pastors who have not completed their studies.
Father God, thank You for the bravery of Christians in Nicaragua. May those who are suffering for speaking out be empowered in their faith rather than left despondent. Heal all hurts, and give believers continued wisdom, courage and protection as they follow You in an increasingly hostile environment. Unite the church through this difficult time – may there be grace and love for one another as people respond to the challenges in different ways. Holy Spirit, move powerfully in the hearts of President Ortega and his government – may they be attentive to the concerns, needs and values of Christians in Nicaragua. Amen.