". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Momentum Builds on Capitol Hill to Free 11 Pastors Imprisoned in Nicaragua

February 20, 2024

A growing bipartisan cohort of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are demanding that the communist Nicaraguan government release 11 imprisoned evangelical pastors from captivity, who they say were targeted unjustly for their religious beliefs.

As recently reported, the Nicaraguan regime under President Daniel Ortega imprisoned 11 pastors associated with the Mountain Gateway missionary organization last December, accusing them of “organized crime” and “money laundering” after initially supporting their evangelistic campaign in the small Central American country, which drew almost one million people.

On Monday, Britt Hancock, the founder and director of Mountain Gateway, joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to give an update on the developing situation.

“We don’t really have much of a way to communicate with them,” he shared. “We can’t verify … their health condition. There’s been two hearings where … our lawyers [have] seen them by video, but there’s no way to communicate with them [because] they can hear her, but she can’t hear them. … [W]e don’t really know for sure how they are other than what we can assess in a five minute conversation with them.”

Hancock continued, “[W]e’re extremely concerned about the married couple that’s in prison because the mother is separated from her two children and their young one is four months old, and the other one’s two and a half years old. [S]o we’re just doing everything that we can to try to pressure the Nicaraguan government into releasing them to a safe country, particularly the mom and [her] kids. [T]hose two children are U.S. citizens, and they’re stuck there in Nicaragua.”

However, as he went on to explain, momentum is building on Capitol Hill toward a solution to free the pastors.

“[W]e’ve just been having lots of meetings in the halls of Congress with members of both houses … [and] things are moving along,” Hancock confirmed. “We have a growing coalition of people that are concerned about the religious persecution issues and the human rights violation issues that are happening right now in Nicaragua with our people specifically. But as the State Department told me, they believe that there are other evangelical pastors imprisoned right now that really don’t have a voice — maybe up to 100 other pastors and prisoners of conscience there that they’ve jailed for similar reasons. … [T]his government is getting more and more repressive, so it’s very concerning in a broader way.”

Last week, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) led a bipartisan letter sent to the Nicaraguan ambassador to the U.S., which was joined by 57 members of the House and Senate. It expressed alarm at the growing violations of religious freedom occurring in Nicaragua and called for the release of the imprisoned pastors.

“We are deeply concerned for the welfare of these Christian men and women of faith who have been arrested and imprisoned for no other offense than sharing the Gospel,” the congressman stated in a press release. “This is part of a larger pattern of human rights and religious freedom violations in Nicaragua.”

Aderholt continued, “It was religious persecution that detained them, and it is blatant human rights violations that have kept them detained — these pastors must be released immediately.”

Hancock went on to highlight last week’s floor speech by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) advocating for the pastors, as well as “a resolution right now making its way through Congress that they hope to pass once they come back in session … that condemns pretty strongly Nicaragua’s behavior in our situation.”

Hancock concluded by asking American believers to pray for the imprisoned pastors and urge their congressmen to work on their behalf. “Please pray for all of our people imprisoned in Nicaragua today. Also pray for us as a ministry and pray for me while I’m here in Washington, that we can make the right connections. [Please] contact your congressman or your senator and ask them to take action on this point.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.