child development center Three weeks have passed since Palabra de Vida en Acción opened its doors for the first time to the children of the community. A formal process that started almost a year ago is finally finished and running.

The child development center is located at the Baptist Church Palabra de Vida. The church first heard about Compassion through a relative of the pastor.

Everything started by seeking God’s guidance — both the church and Compassion Nicaragua staff prayed. After a few months of prayer and talking to the church leaders about the vision and how Compassion works, the church sent a partnership request to open a child development center.

Daniel Hidalgo, the Compassion Nicaragua partnership facilitator who works as the link between the country office and the church partners says, “This [prayer] is the most important. There are many churches and much need, and we pray for God’s guidance to find the best partner.”

The churches that we partner with must fulfill some requirements, such as:

  • being part of an evangelical denomination
  • having a children’s ministry
  • having good church facilities to host children
  • having personnel to teach and care for the children

Daniel explains,

“There are three documents that help us make a decision: potential child development center profile, sponsorship request, and church documentation. During the site visit, we make sure the written information coincides with the community’s reality.

“Another reason to choose a church partner is that the church has an established children’s ministry. CI does not pioneer a ministry. An existing ministry is a guarantee that the church has a vision to work with children and has some experience in that area.

“Another criterion is church leadership. We make sure that the pastor and leaders inspire passion to the church in general regarding children’s work.”

A few months later, Palabra de Vida received a letter of acceptance.

A few site visits were done by Daniel to further elaborate on the meaning of the work in partnership with Compassion, and to make sure the church had the right conditions to host all of the children.

The visits included talking to some church leaders and conducting home/community visits in order to determine which kids were going to be registered. This is a long process that goes back and forth between the potential church partner and our country office.

Different forms were filled out, explaining the church’s vision about the work with children, and giving information about the neighborhood and the town in general. The purpose of opening a child development center was also stated in the documents.

During this process, the pastor and church leaders asked the Lord’s guidance to place the right people in the right positions in the child development center.

The list of candidates included people who have been working with children in the church’s cell groups, have a good testimony, are a church member, are baptized, and have a love to work with kids.

This is how the church committee, leadership team, teachers, maintenance, cook and security people were chosen. This group receives an offering for the work they do.

However, there is another group of volunteers, one per classroom, that this church has established to help teachers during the classes. All of them are part of the church youth group and could be part of the staff in the future as the center grows.

Child development center

After the first meetings with the leadership, training began. The very first training class was on how to fill out new case studies, which contains all of the child information.

The leadership team of the center and teachers attended that training to have a better understanding of the requirements and because each of them was going to visit homes to fill out the forms with the families.

Then the leadership team was trained in finances, curriculum, programs and the opening of the center’s account.

Next, to let the community know about the center, door-to-door visits were done by the church staff. During the visits, they explained to the people what the child development center was about, and it was well received by the neighbors.

José, the center director, explains,

“The registration process was facilitated by the fact that many of the registered children attend the church’s cell group, some are from the neighborhood, and other children are from the church so we know their home conditions.

“We have Christian children and children from different religious backgrounds.  One-hundred and fifty children were required to start the center, 50 percent from the church and 50 percent from the neighborhood.

“As a church we did an exception and registered 40 percent from the church and the rest from the neighborhood because of the need of many children out there.”

Once the new case studies were filled out for all the registered children, the children were called to have their picture taken to include in the Child Packets. The development center then held a first meeting with parents of registered children so parents could clear up their questions and doubts.

Then, dates were arranged to begin with the classes. Inauguration came and classes started.

The first week was an experience with lots of excitement and getting to know the children. A schedule suitable for everyone for the following weeks was planned.

An older child development center helped Palabra de Vida en Acción in their beginning, which helped the new child development center avoid many mistakes.

José explains,

“They were our model. We exchanged visits to see the work in the different areas of the project. They facilitated a lot of information that helped us to have an idea of the everyday activities and to do well in our first reports. Our goal is to do a good job and the reason why we looked for help in another project.”

Although Palabra de Vida en Acción recently opened, José feels

“This work is worthy because we do it in love for the children and because there is a spiritual, economic, emotional and cognitive need in the children and their families.

“Our vision is to see children changed and that makes the effort valuable, and we will soon see the impact of this work.

“Our dream is to see the next generation lack nothing. We want the next generation and every child that comes to the center to impact their families.

“It has been a blessing to open our center. The church is supporting the vision. There is more concern for childhood, and we’re seeing the needs the children have, and people in the community understand that we’re now here.

“Parents’ attendance to church is beginning to be seen. There are some children that are not from our church, but have invited their parents to come to the services.

“We are beginning to see the fruits. We give the glory to God, that’s where we are pointing, to be a church for the family.

“I recommend Compassion for other churches because there is a need in the children of our communities and because of the integral education they receive here.”

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  1. Mar 17, 2009
    at 12:27 pm

    I really enjoyed the article “Opening a Child Development Center”. As a CI employee in the phone center, I am asked many questions concerning this topic. The article clarified some of the more generic answers I have to give the sponsor or other callers.
    In reference to the Blog page, I have been away from work for several weeks and the Blogs have been a wonderful way of keeping in touch with some of the current events.
    Thank you very much for keeping all of us informed and enlightened.

  2. Sara Benson
    Mar 17, 2009
    at 4:24 pm

    Thanks for taking us behind the scenes. It is exciting to hear about new centers being set up and more children being reached.

  3. Mar 17, 2009
    at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for bringing this home to us. It makes it more real: these are real churches, real people, just like us. I know I tend to forget that fact.

  4. Heather
    Mar 18, 2009
    at 4:10 pm

    This is really great! I never knew how much work went into this and I was always curious how the process went! Are Catholic churches allowed to take part in this?

  5. Mar 18, 2009
    at 6:00 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised, considering how predominant Catholicism is in Central/South America. Compassion itself is non-denominational–does this allow it to partner with churches of any Christian denomination (either Catholic or Protestant)?

  6. Mar 18, 2009
    at 9:05 pm

    Thank you for a very informative and interesting article.

  7. Mar 18, 2009
    at 9:07 pm

    hmm. That’s a bit surprising. I wonder why. Is it a doctrine issue, or logistical, based on how Catholic churches work with the community?

    • Mar 20, 2009
      at 7:12 am

      Judy and Heather,

      I was told that Compassion doesn’t partner with Catholic churches because,

      Many of the countries where we work have a history of antagonism between the Catholic Church and the evangelical Christian church. In these countries, it can be extremely difficult to work with both Protestants and Catholics. Attempting to do so can easily be misunderstood by church leaders and could lessen our ability to work effectively on behalf of children living in poverty. Additionally, the Catholic Church has developed its own methods and programs for fighting global poverty.

  8. Heather
    Mar 19, 2009
    at 5:19 pm

    I am truly dissapointed and sorry that Compassion doesn’t partner with Catholic churches.
    The Roman Catholics are quite experienced in helping the poor and with the social issues that face many of these poverty stricken areas. While Protestant churches barely did anything for many, many years the Catholics were out building hospitals,touching lepers in India,building schools,feeding the poor,working with those with ebola in Africa and have been huge supporters of the One Campaign and many, many other projects.
    I know that their doctrinal issues are a bit different but their help and their access to buildings,facilites,even their own church rooms-even their priests and nuns can sometimes teach-but I seriously believe that Roman Catholics would fully be behind a ministry like Compassion International. It’s heart is exactly where many Catholics hearts are-with the poor.
    I think American Roman Catholics would love to take this to their church groups and to the priests and nuns here in the States but I believe would be reluctant once they hear that Compassion doesn’t work with their churches. I know my Grandmother would have loved this. So much trust is put in the church. Imagine the lives that could be saved-people may trust compassion even more!
    I do hope there’s a good reason behind not partnering with Catholics. I really hope it isn’t some old anti Catholic bias showing up somehow.
    I can’t see the Church not wanting to be part of something like Compassion! Why exclude part of the Body of Christ?
    Again I am totally shocked and dissapointed by this..

  9. Mar 20, 2009
    at 7:19 am

    Chris, thanks for the clarification. I agree that we wouldn’t want to cause any strife between churches.

  10. Mike Stephens
    Mar 21, 2009
    at 8:53 pm

    Excellent point my friends!!!

    Jesus is Lord!!! and that’s all folks!!!

  11. Oct 2, 2009
    at 10:55 pm

    May the Holy Spirit continue to move in whatever setting
    He so chooses.

    I came to a knowledge and relationship with Christ as a member of the Catholic Charasmatic Movement many many years ago.

    The Spirit doesn’t respect the “boundaries” we have set.

    Go God!

  12. Jul 5, 2011
    at 11:40 am

    I know this comment is pretty late in the conversation, but one of the main reasons I chose to put my money and support behind Compassion (as opposed to other Christian relief organizations) is the fact they work exclusively with evangelical churches (and not Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc.).

    This conviction isn’t out of hatred toward Catholics, and I fully realize many people come to faith outside evangelical circles, but the Scriptures are clear that we are to avoid any ecumenical efforts that might compromise the gosepl message. I am convinced that working alongside Catholic organizations does just that, as they teach a salvation through faith plus works, which is condemned throughout the New Testament.

    Read the New Testament letters of Paul, John, Peter and Jude and note how often they warn us to avoid false teaching within our own churches.

    I applaud Compassion for being one of the few remaining evangelical organiations with the courage to protect the gospel message by not compromising their methodology through unbiblical partnerships. I pray they will remain committed in their efforts.

    In Christ,
    Will M

  13. Rizzo
    Nov 7, 2011
    at 6:58 pm

    As a Catholic and former evangelical (assembly of God), I find the Catholic church’s teachings are more accurate with time, tradition and scripture than most Protestant Churches. The Catholic churches understand that works are for those individuals that make Christ the Lord of their lives and take his lead when it comes to giving, working, etc. They also believe the commandents and the belief that life begins at conception, unlike pro-choice Protestants (ECLA, Salvation Army and Methodist.) They believe that marriage is for life, and will not allow anyone who is divorced to serve in a leadership role, unlike the majority of Protestant Churches. The drunknesses, sexual immorality, tolerance of abortion, occult acceptance and much more lead me to cross the Tiber. Thank the Lord, that I don’t have to go to church and support abortion.

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