(Monday) Have you ever wondered about God's intentions?
Today we visited the site where 25 homes will be built through work of St. Barnabas UMC. Words cannot express the gratitude to God that I have for bringing me to Granadillo Dos, Nicaragua. We were able to announce to the community today (and now to you) that we have been given a matching grant by a benefactor.
Every dollar that St. Barnabas raises in the next several months will be matched dollar-for-dollar. In other words every dollar you give, equals $2; every $100 equals $200! We are planning the channels through which we can begin to raise that money as fast as we can. Now, read carefully...
The Rainbow Network is the top-of-the-line, highest quality mission ministry in which I’ve participated. My first mission trip was in 1989 when we took 12 high school students and 4 adults to West Virginia on the Appalachia Service Project, my first of 9 trips to Appalachia. Since that time I’ve led 21 mission trips with junior high, high school and college students. In 1993 I dreamed and was the primary creator of the Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission (CTCYM) after the floods in Kansas and Missouri, and the following year led 300 students, some 50 adults, including the cabinet of the Central Texas Conference to that area to do flood relief – almost a year after the people in that region had been flooded out of their homes. All of that is to say, I am no stranger to mission work, and Rainbow Network is tops. Rainbow Network is a multi-faceted approach to the core issues of poverty and the systems that keep people poor.
1.Rainbow Network does not give a hand-out. They are a transformational ministry. That is to say, that when a village is created, it is not just cinder blocks and a road base. The people are trained to lead that village. They give oversight to education, nutrition/medical, and leadership. These skills are passed on from one generation to the next. The village officials are elected for a 6-month period of time. If the leaders and ineffective, the village replaces them.
2.There is a daily feeding program for the children and elderly. The meals are adequate in protein and very tasty!
3.The education of secondary students is a reasonable cost for us, and a life-changing opportunity for the students. For $30 per month we furnish tuition, books, uniform and a basic educational opportunity for students who would otherwise be required to quit school and help provide for their family’s well-being by working in the fields. Instead, they finish school, have employable skills, and are able to build a life for themselves. The students must also give back to their community by helping teach the children in an after-school program. We talked with one such student today. He went on to go to college and is now a respected leader in his community.
4.Through micro-loans, Rainbow Network gives indigenous people the opportunity to make a living wage as they start their own business. Recipients of the loans are determined by a local governing board, not by an outside group.
5.Like Habitat for Humanity home owners, there is an application process to be selected by the local leadership as a home owner. Rainbow Network families have to work 2 days a week on the building of the homes; they must pay back a loan for the material costs of the house (this money pays it forward by funding future homes).
I’ve never seen such a comprehensive, transformational ministry! I believe this ministry is vitally important to people in Nicaragua, but even-more-so to the people of the United States and St. Barnabas. The people we met today are filled with hope, enthusiasm, and commitment. They have seen how important it is to lift each other up and to celebrate that when one wins we all win. WOW! It seems to me that this is like how God intended The Church to be.