We recently launched our 28th and 29th Local Church Initiatives in the Leon region of Nicaragua! These two churches, Iglesia Aposento Alto and Iglesia Luz y Vida, collectively serve over 150 children. The churches are members of a Florida based NGO, Twelve Churches, which has been working to train, equip and resource pastors in some of the poorest areas of Leon, Nicaragua since 2009.
Twelve Churches and ORPHANetwork have similar ministry models – we both work through the local Nicaraguan church to empower Nicaraguans to reach their communities for Christ. Much of Twelve Churches’ work focuses on leadership development and each church serves about 25-100 people living in some of the poorest communities in the Leon region.
This need was realized after church members of Killearn United Methodist Church went on three consecutive mission trips to Leon. Twelve Churches Executive Director, Chris Smith, recalls that “the team left that third trip realizing they had found men of passion and spirit, but without any form of pastoral training.” They felt a calling from God to partner on a deeper level with a church in Nicaragua, and He led them to not one, but twelve churches!
In addition to leadership development, additional programs that Twelve Churches offers to their local church partners vary from micro loans, to medical care and basic English classes. They have been providing basic feeding programs to four of their church partners for the past few years and when Twelve Churches learned about ORPHANetwork’s work in Nicaragua they were eager to learn more about a potential partnership. “God opened up the door. When we saw the values and methodology of ORPHANetwork, we realized so much of our vision and values align perfectly. We can learn from ORPHANetwork and we will both work together to empower Nicaraguans to solve the problems of Nicaragua,” says Smith.
Today the children of Iglesia Aposento and Igesia Luz y Vida’s meals have been nutritionally improved by our staff Nutritionist, Flavia Urbina, and the nourishing meals provide 850 calories for these children on a daily basis. Our medical team, led by Dr. Janice Hebbert, has administered de-worming pills to rid the children’s bodies of harmful parasites and thanks to our partners at Vitamin Angels, children ages five and under now receive Vitamin-A supplements. To determine malnourishment rates, the team performed health assessments, and children that were found to be malnourished (the average of the two locations was about 20%), are receiving soy fortified milk to aid in the restoration of their health.
Twelve Churches is a wonderful organization to partner with and they have done amazing work for God’s Kingdom in Nicaragua. We are honored to come alongside their work, and most especially to have the opportunity to reach more children and families for our Lord!