In many Central American countries, children attend school in shifts (morning, afternoon, and evening). This segmented scheduling is due to the reality that a large portion of the children must work or even beg to supplement their family’s meager income. Due to the shortened days and lack of resources, the school system offers little more than the basic subjects. The majority of the children struggle to learn even those, in many instances due to malnutrition. Few ever finish their education. Many of the boys quit because they must work to survive, many of the girls because of pregnancy. Too many of the children are forced to survive on their own, with parents in other regions or even other countries trying to find work. This cycle needs to be broken.
The First Ministry: Oasis de la Gracia
In June of 2014, 18ten sat down with local pastors in Diriamba, Nicaragua to brainstorm a solution to this problem. The pastors all agreed that a high-quality Christian school was what this community was lacking. 18ten prayerfully considered this idea, but at the time was not in a financial position to be able to build a school. Therefore, the group decided to start with a before/after school program they named “Oasis de la Gracia” – the Oasis of Grace. They designed this ministry to provide a place of relief for children; a place to meet their spiritual and physical needs. Oasis, for short, aimed to provide needy children with:
1) the gospel;
2) academic enrichment;
3) meals; and
4) life skills.
Since 2015, Oasis has served two rounds of students (30-40 in total): a morning and an afternoon group, divided by the time of day they attend public school. Oasis has provided transportation to and from the ministry, daily lunches, Bible class, and academic enrichment.
Current Ministry Location:
While the Oasis staff has seen many children come to faith and improve their academic achievement, they have also seen the limitations of the current program. Specifically, society’s pressure on children to use their spare time to work and help around the house rather than participate in programs like Oasis has deterred many from staying in the program.
Oasis of Grace Christian Academy
To resolve this issue, local pastors and Oasis leadership brought up their original plan once again to 18ten’s Board of Directors in June of 2017. They urged 18ten that an official Christian Academy would be a place where these children don’t just receive a supplemental education, they would receive a comprehensive, gospel-centered education that surpasses their current public education and truly equips them for the future. The staff’s time spent with the children would be multiplied, tremendously increasing their level of impact. We continued to pray and ask the Lord for guidance.
In January of 2018, The Lord answered our prayers and led us to a generous donor who caught the vision of the Oasis of Grace Christian Academy and has since been championing the cause and raising funds to see this dream become a reality. We are delighted to share the plans for the school as well as give you a glance of the property and building progress.
Future school grounds (initial construction, February 2019):
Lord willing, the school will open officially in February of 2020, just in time for the beginning of the Nicaraguan school year. We invite you to pray for the remaining steps of this process and will keep you updated along the way.
Thank you for your prayers and support of what God has done and is doing through Oasis!