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US Missionary Seeks Capitol Hill Aid for Nicaraguan Pastors Jailed After Mass Evangelistic Campaigns

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 An American missionary faces criminal charges in Nicaragua after bringing mass evangelism campaigns to the country. Now pastors he worked with are in prison.

'Totally Innocent'

Around a million people attended the campaigns last year. Britt Hancock of Mountain Gateway says God did amazing things, healing and transforming lives.

A couple of months after the final gathering, however, the government brought charges of money laundering and organized crime against Britt, his son Jacob, and daughter-in-law Cassie.

"We're totally innocent of those charges," Britt told CBN News. "Money laundering – there has to be a crime on the front end to obtain the money illegally, and so all of the money that we put into Nicaragua came from our donor base."

"So there's no underlying crime there, and we certainly are not organized crime bosses," he continued.

Jacob describes his reaction to the charges as "shock" and "disbelief".

"We had been pouring our lives into the nation of Nicaragua, and so we didn't know what was happening at the time, and so we just began to pray and just began to try to figure out what was going on," he told CBN News.

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While the three safely made it home, the country's attorney general charged 11 Mountain Gateway Nicaraguan pastors with money laundering and put them in prison. They include Marisela, a wife and mother separated from her children for two months now.

"My heart is completely broken for Marisela, just knowing that she's sitting in a prison cell away from her babies," Cassie Hancock told CBN News. "She's like a sister to me, and she's been an aunt to my kids. She just gave birth to her baby boy at the end of September."

Capitol Hill Coalition

Earlier this year, Mountain Gateway stated, "These charges are based on erroneous information," and it would "do everything in its power to resolve this through diplomatic channels." 

Britt went to Washington, seeking help to secure the release of the pastors whose exact location and health are unknown.

He says Capitol Hill lawmakers supported Mountain Gateway by applying pressure on Nicaragua through floor speeches and a resolution condemning these actions. The missionary is also reaching out to others in Washington.

"I met with high people at the State Department who are very concerned over the situation in Nicaragua," Britt shared. "And they've also, the State Department is, they're telling me that they're concerned over the lack of attention surrounding Nicaragua's recent behavior about persecution against religious institutions and individuals and violations of human rights."

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Religious Freedom Institute President Dr. Eric Patterson describes the situation in Nicaragua as "very bad."

"What's happening, on the one hand, is we've seen the leadership of the Catholic Church routinely attacked, imprisoned, stripped of their citizenship, and we're seeing this increasingly targeting evangelicals as well," he explained.

Britt is asking for prayer, describing what happened as a "body slam."

"Pray for our team; pray that God moves to release those held in prison in a broad way," he said. "Pray that God changes the environment in Nicaragua, that freedom can reign..."

The kind of freedom experienced by those whose lives changed after attending Mountain Gateway's evangelistic campaigns.


 * Massive Move of God in Nicaragua: Nearly 1 Million Attend, Thousands Choose Christ, Miracles Abound  

 * 'Please Pray': Nicaragua Jails Pastors, Accuses US Evangelists of Crimes After Huge Outreaches


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About The Author


Mark Martin currently serves as a reporter and anchor at CBN News, reporting on all kinds of issues, from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East. He traveled to Bahrain and covered stories on the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mark also anchors CBN News Midday on the CBN Newschannel and fills in on the anchor desk for CBN News' Newswatch and The 700 Club. Prior to CBN News, Mark worked at KFSM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Fort Smith, Arkansas. There he served as a weekend morning producer, before being promoted to general