If you are not very familiar with Nicaragua, here are some sobering statistics:
- Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, behind Haiti.
- 17% of the population lives in extreme poverty, on less than a dollar a day.
- Four million Nicaraguans earn less than $2 per day; the total population is 5.4 million.
- Three out of four children suffer from malnutrition.
- 1.1 million Nicaraguans do not have a home.
- Two thirds of the population does not have access to adequate sewer services.
- 33.2% of Nicaraguans are illiterate.
- More than 15% of the population (800,000 boys and girls) does not attend school.
In 2009, my wife Tina and I visited the barrio of La Cruz Nicaragua for the very first time. It was an incredibly eerie feeling. The smell was overwhelming, the people were distant, and there was a strong feeling of emptiness and darkness.
I knew we were not welcome, but I also knew that La Cruz was exactly where God wanted us to be. This is where God had work for us to do.
“Lord, help us spread your good news all over the world, especially to Nicaragua this week. Use our team to transform lives and break down social barriers.”
As I walked around the dump site at La Cruz, God stirred inside of me a fire to do something and to use the resources He has given me to help the people of La Cruz.
Since that day, the organization our mission team was working with began visiting the people of La Cruz regularly and building relationships. They provided daily feedings for the children and the people of La Cruz were being given something they have never had before: hope!
In 2010, we returned to the barrio of La Cruz. The reception our mission team received compared to the year before was amazing. The people of La Cruz welcomed us and were thankful to see us again.
Relationships had been built, and are being built. God’s love is at work. God is transforming lives, and it is incredible to see.
As of today, all of the children who live in La Cruz (about 50 kids) are now sponsored by members of Grace Church, and a brand new school was built for the children of La Cruz!
Only God could take a little barrio in the middle of Nicaragua where people live off of a dump site, call it La Cruz (The Cross), and then use it to impact the lives of so many people.
North Americans simply do not know enough about extreme poverty to get involved. But the bottom line is this: we all have an obligation to help the helpless. We should use the resources and gifts that God has given us to do the work God wants us to do.
For Tina and myself, our experience in La Cruz has inspired us to create ResQrags, a company that uses clothing as a resource to help children living in extreme poverty. ResQrags is partnered with Compassion and inspires others to take action by sharing the message of hope and love.
As you consider ways to help those living in extreme poverty, this is my prayer for you:
“Thank you God for relationships and the opportunity to serve You, the Almighty Creator. Help us work together and fight to end extreme poverty. Help us use our gifts and resources so that we may fulfill Your will and not our own. Help us share Your love, shine Your light and see the world through Your eyes. Help us care about the people You care about and give us the courage and strength to do Your work always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Gannon and his wife, Tina, are the founders and owners of ResQrags. They live in Fort Myers, Fla., with their twin 6-year-old boys.
Statistics cited from Wikipedia and United Nations Development Program