Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the world, ranking just above Haiti. This level of poverty has many adults in hopeless situations when it comes to employment. Jobs are seasonal and temporal and when work is unavailable, many of the men drink to pass the time and to cope. Women and children are regularly abused and this is seen as "normal". Homes are small and extended families often share small spaces. These living conditions create a gateway for sexual experimentation among family members. Absentee fathers are common as is the switching out of partners among mothers. Some children have men constantly coming in and out of the home. This leads the society to be incredibly matriarchal, however, the women are still not valued or respected in many instances.
Food is scarce in many areas and some families eat only one meal a day. Since food is not plentiful, readily available, or affordable many of these families will try and sleep until later in the day so that they will not be as effected by the hunger they face every day. Education is not often available and what is available is not necessarily the best or highest quality. Many of the teachers are under-educated and are therefore teaching children improperly. Drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality are prevalent issues that the children and teens of Nicaragua are at risk for. With no stable father figure in the home, many of the young boys are experimenting with homosexual behaviors.
Children are the shoulders upon which the society of Nicaragua plants its feet. If you want change the country and the views of society within the culture, you must focus on the children.
The missionaries and national leaders/pastors understand that children and teenagers are vital to the change of Nicaraguan society so they are making many attempts to reach out to them to affect this change. Churches are being planted on these children in hopes that they will come to know the saving grace of Jesus before being ensnared in the vices of the world. There is also hope that the children will reach their families and bring them to church so that they may know and embrace the hope that the Gospel brings. So far, many churches have seen this model "succeed".
Another avenue of aid the missionaries and leaders are trying to use is that of feeding programs. Since these families have little to no food, there are few areas where they can go to receive physical nourishment. Feeding programs are slow to provide because they lack resources but the vision is there and they are persistent in their work. Each program tries to provide students with a healthy meal that will nourish them. The lack of resources hinders the regularity and frequency of the programs. A lack of food, money, and even staff members plays into the efficiency of the program.
Medical ministries and health awareness and education are also major outreaches that have been set up for these communities. Doctors and nurses are training members of the church in basic healthcare so that they can go into small, rural communities and care for some of the basic needs of the people there. Medicines like Tylenol or Advil are expensive or hard to come by. Rather than buying a bottle of painkillers to have on hand, many families buy just a few tablets at a time to try and care for their medical needs. The healthcare ministry allows them to receive these medicines free of charge in order to help the patients get better. Health awareness and education comes largely in the form of schooling for children from Compassion International. Courses are taught to educate children in health awareness and disease prevention.
Each ministry provided is given with the hope that families will be open and receptive to the Gospel rather than skeptical of the missionaries. These physical needs being met are what opens the door wider to the hearts of the individuals in these communities. Yet, even with these ministries in place, there is still a great darkness in Nicaragua. Please pray for them as they continue to work and pray for the hearts of those to whom they are ministering. If you feel called to get involved by going on a trip or by giving financially you can contact ABWE.
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