As discussed in the previous newsletter, we remain encouraged by the work that the Lord is doing in Nicaragua at Oasis de la Gracia. He is transforming lives through the work of local Christians. 30-40 children are currently receiving spiritual education and guidance, physical sustenance, and educational tutoring thanks to the work of this church. The biggest challenges the ministry faces are retaining student attendance and adequate classroom space. Here are a few important items of discussion concerning this ministry:
1) Short Term: Desire for a permanent home. While this ministry has been a blessing to many already, there are only eight children that have remained involved from the outset. Because part of our desire is to ensure that these children receive a quality education that will serve them throughout life, this number is too low. One cause of this turnover is that the ministry’s physical location changed each year except for the upcoming 2018 school year (up to this point it has been conducted in rental homes). The logistical problems created by these moves resulted in a number of children being unable to continue in the program. We would like to solve this issue by finding a permanent home that is more properly suited for the ministry (something more like a school than a home). The Board has agreed to explore the possibility of leasing or purchasing a commercial lot in this region which would provide a more suitable long-term solution.
2) Desire for a school. Ramon and Pedro have expressed interest in transforming the before-and-after-school program into a full-fledged school, and are currently researching important information that will help us gain insight into what that process would look like. In Nicaragua, children go to school for half the day, then many must work or help out around the house for the remainder of the day due to the poverty in this region. Many of the kids we are helping faced this impossible choice—participate in the program and go to school all day (1/2 day at public school, other half at Oasis de la Gracia) or quit the program and help provide for the family by working. This problem will only increase as we continue to grow into the older grades. To offset this, the local church suggested transitioning into a school so that the children could receive all of the benefits of the ministry while still retaining the ability to help out their family in the remaining half of the day. After much discussion and prayer, the Board agreed it would
be wise to explore this option with them. A school presents an even greater opportunity for transforming the lives of these children. However, there are major concerns that we are currently working to address:
a) Whether the ministry would remain cost-effective;
b) Whether the ministry would remain true to our model—a branch of the local church in that
community (as opposed to an imposed, stand-alone ministry of 18ten); and
c) Whether the ministry continues to serve the intended audience—disadvantaged children.
Please pray for guidance as we are exploring answers to these questions with the local leadership. More to follow as we work through these questions.