Poor children Sitting under a tent away from the hot sun, talking, smiling and enjoying a plate of rice and chicken is a group of teachers from Fey Esperanza Child Development Center before the beginning of another afternoon with the children.

The teachers are having a good time with each other, but after they finish their lunch, each of them go to their classrooms with excitement to prepare for the afternoon classes.

Seventeen people work at the development center. Most of them have been serving the children since the center started two years ago, and more are being added as more poor children are registered.

Each of these workers were carefully and prayerfully chosen by the pastor. Before selecting staff, he wrote a list of names to present to the church committee, which considered each one. The committee considers each person’s vision and commitment to working with poor children.

Each worker must have at least one year of high school and a good relationship with God because it is in their hands that the life of the children will rest while working at the development center.

These workers are ideally church members, but if the partner church is too small, then applicants from neighboring churches or from the same denomination can work at the student center. Each person is interviewed by the pastor and committee about their willingness to work at the center.

Child development workers are volunteers who receive an “offering” every month, not a salary. They have limited job opportunities and are at the center because they love God and love to work with poor children.

Reyna has been an active member of the Hermon Baptist Church for 13 years. Since the center started in November 2006, she has worked as a teacher and coordinator of the cognitive area. Reyna shares,

“I love the work of the Lord and when the pastor spoke to me about it, I accepted because I love children and because of the spiritual and emotional need they have.

“At the development center, children have a new opportunity for their life. They can be instructed in the Bible and they gain new friends.”

Ana is one of the youngest teachers. A smile bloomed as she shared about the reason why she is at the student center.

“It is a privilege to work here. Since I was little I wished to be a Sunday school teacher, but the Lord allowed me to begin working at the student center. Now, I also have a group in Sunday school.”

poor-children-helped-by-ana

Ana has been a member of the church for three years and has worked for the student center for a year and a half. “Ana continues to grow spiritually, academically and she also has an excellent relationship with everybody at the development center,” says Pastor Pedro.

One of the difficulties, says the pastor, is the lack of teaching experience of workers at the student center.

“Some of the student center members are empirical, meaning that some of them did not finish their elementary or high school studies or do not have experience related to teaching but they have acquired experience through the practice. When implementing new things, training has been necessary, and that’s how we work.”

By now, most of the personnel have a high school level. In Nicaragua, out of 100 children who enter elementary school, only 29 of them finish. Only 11 complete high school. Six go to university and only two graduate.

In 2006, 830,000 children did not go to school (Special Ministry for Children and Adolescent, 2007) Even when education is free, the high unemployment rate affects parents and they don’t send their children to school.

Reyna shares that working with poor children is a high calling, “There was fear at the beginning because in our hands there is not just anything, but the life of the children.”

The pastor says of Reyna, “With her experience as a regular teacher, she has given a lot of new ideas for the work at the student center and has facilitated the teamwork.”

For Ana it was not easy to fill out the children’s file or to help them write letters. However, “I got help from the teachers. Some people believe this job is easy but it is not. However with God’s help, it can be done!” she says.

The Compassion Nicaragua office has a list of requirements for when the children write to the sponsors, so learning how to include all of those requirements takes the teachers some time.

The requirements include things such as making sure the letters answer the sponsors’ questions, making sure the letter has the date and sponsors’ name on it, and making sure the children have thanked their sponsors for any gifts received.

Getting home safely, and health and finances are some other struggles the workers face. “It is obvious these people have a commitment with God, with the church, with the development center. They are motivated, they are doing something all the time,” says Pastor Pedro.

“As a development center, we stay motivated by the harmony among the group. We also clear up doubts with confidence as soon as they arise, talk about differences. If something provokes incompatibility, we explain to them the reasons why those actions are being taken, that is all for the good of the work as a whole.

“We try to talk and encourage them all the time. Personal and group devotions, spiritual retreats are also done to keep the workers motivated. Once a year a special dinner and a small gift is presented to each development center member to let them know they have done well throughout the year.”

Reyna elaborates,

“We don’t waste time here. We get encouraged when we see the change in the children’s life and their families. Many parents have come to know the Lord and are now serving and attending church regularly.

“I thank so much the support and love God has put in the heart of people for the children in our country. Be sure we do our best. The children are being educated and reached for God. Keep on supporting the children of Nicaragua and all over the world.”

Ana agrees,

“I am thankful with God for this privilege of working with children. I want to thank also those who make possible this support for the children of the community.”

Pastor Pedro concludes,

“To the people that make this possible, we ask them to be patient. Not long ago we had the visit of a 45-year-old man from Bolivia, with a beautiful family and a successful ministry. This man was assisted by Compassion when he was a child, and when I heard him talking, I pictured our children in him, with a great preparation and success in life.

“We thank God and this ministry for considering Nicaragua for the work with children. We are very thankful for their disposition to give their time, finances, prayer and for giving all they can. Thank you.”

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  1. Jan 29, 2009
    at 7:23 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this. It’s an encouragement to me as a teacher to keep my job child-centered, making sure my kids get the education they need (rather than getting bogged down in paperwork or acquiring the Spring-Semester Blahs).

    I noticed that this story said the workers aren’t paid a regular salary, but an “offering”. Is this standard in all countries where Compassion works, or only in Nicaragua?

  2. Linda
    Jan 29, 2009
    at 7:32 am

    Thank you so much for this information. I have a child that I’ve sponsored in Nicaragua for almost 4 years. I love her very much, and am very interested in her country. Although I’ve recieved many beauitful letters, I still know very little about her community and school. I realize because of the translation efforts and limited space to write hinders all my questions. I’m very happy with Compassion for bringing these beauitful children into our lives—thank you! My little girl has blessed me so much more than I could ever imagine, and someday I hope to travel to her country to meet her.

  3. Barbara Mankoski
    Jan 29, 2009
    at 9:42 am

    Thank you so much for this blog! It is so helpful and informative. It gives us a real look at the countries, activities and efforts that go into making Compassion what it is. Thank you for highlighting individual countries and giving us a glimpse of what our children’s lives are like.

  4. Jan 29, 2009
    at 6:16 pm

    Great story! And boy, would I like to have the story of the 45-year-old man from Bolivia, who was formerly assisted by Compassion!

    I would like to second Judith’s question: Is it common in all countries for center workers not to receive a regular salary?

  5. Jan 30, 2009
    at 7:18 pm

    It’s so good to hear these stories. I love to hear things from the perspective of the workers — each so precious in their devotion to children. Blessings on Nicaragua!

  6. Jan 31, 2009
    at 2:41 pm

    I’m glad to see Compassion, Inc. is still in business. I once recieved South Korean figurines for helping needy children In S. Korea. This was when i was a young kid myself.

  7. Feb 10, 2009
    at 1:20 pm

    Judy,

    I didn’t miss the question you asked waaaay back. I’m trying to get a hold of someone in our International Program area to answer your question. The person that has been suggested to me as having the answer travels a LOT. He is out of the office until 2/23. I’m trying to find someone else that is in a position to comment. Thanks for your patience.

  8. Feb 10, 2009
    at 6:01 pm

    Not a problem, Chris. I had to go back and look to even see what I had asked! :) Thank you for following up on all of the issues and questions we in comment-land bring up (such as with wanting to give a community gift like to Kamrul).

  9. Feb 18, 2009
    at 12:19 pm

    Judy,

    Here ya go. :-) The “official” answer from our International Program Group.

    The specific practices are different in each country due to the different economic and social realities in those countries. However, there are general statements that are true globally.

    The first is that our church partners recruit volunteers from their communities to minister to the children.

    Second, these volunteers are not Compassion staff and are not paid, though many, but not all, are given an offering.

    We are so grateful for their hearts and willingness to serve their local church, the children and the Lord.

  10. Mike Stephens
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 10:20 pm

    Linda,

    I too sponsor a little girl in Nicaragua and am very thankful I was able to visit June 2008 for the sponsor tour!!! Her name is Osmari. There were many highlights to the trip as you could imagine Linda, but when we visited this particular project some of the girls from the project did a dance for everyone and at first I didn’t think much of it but then this song came on and somehow the song cut through the moment and I felt something amazing. I still am hoping to get a friend to translate the words for me. When I visited I definitely had many high expectations but mainly I wanted the reality of meeting Osmari simply to happen. But this song on that day really spoke to me. I attached the video of it so you can get a glimpse of what my trip to Nicaragua was like!!! It is difficult to explain how this song and dance on that day really made an impact on me, but it did!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vih0N6rmryM I hope this video encourages you to visit!!! A wise man once told me if you haven’t visited your sponsor child “go rob a bank and visit!!!” I highly agree with his advice, although honest work with a little planning will do also!!! ;) I am going to the Philippines to visit the 3 boys I sponsor there and realize if I don’t visit now I’ll blink and 10 years down the road I’ll still think “I think I should visit!!!” I highly encourage visiting, I am not sure who receives the GREATER benefit of the visit the Sponsor or the child, all I know is there are so many amazing things that take place that anyone that has visited I believe could right a detailed novel of their 1-2 week trip. I will say it again “Hallelujah to God for helping me get work so I can visit Reneboy, Jay-poy, and Angelo in the Philippines this June!!! I prayed and prayed and worked and prayed and prayed and PAID and now I am all PAID and so thankful that God helped me make my prayer a reality!!! Sometimes Linda I believe it is good to wait, for example I sponsor a boy in Peru who is 3 and I thought best to visit him maybe when He is 7 or so but if I get inspired I might say who knows what could happen between now and then and go sooner!!! I am so thankful I went on my first trip to Nicaragua to see some of what Copmassion is doing with my own eyes!!! In the flesh and blood as I like to say!!! I think the difference is like actually seeing the Red Sea parting as opposed to reading about it in the bible or watching Shammah in II Samuel 23:8-23 actually take His stand in the field full of lentils and kill hundreds of Philistines!!! Imagining is pretty amazing but to actually be there I believe is something DIFFERENT!!! That is the best way I think I can encourage and explain how I experienced my Sponsor Tour to Nicaragua. And probably helps explain a little how I am going to the Philippines to let the kids there know I do exist and also by visiting I think it helps me a little know how to gear my letters, prayers, and gifts. Well I could go on for hours but at the end of the day my advice is just one word “GO!!!!!!!” Again I hope the video inspires and encourages and edifies Compassion but more so God. Thanks for the blogs I love reading them!!! But even more than the blogs I love visiting and meeting my sponsor kids!!!

  11. Mike Stephens
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 10:42 pm

    I have to add something else, it is so amazing for me to see eventhough I know there are many Christians around the world I cannot explain how everytime I go to a new place how profound it is to see other Christians like ourselves Praising God, their struggles, Victories and FAITH… it just amazes me and makes God seem that much more BIG, POWERFUL, MIGHTY, and AWESOME!!! And likewise I am sure they are looking at me thinking many similar things. Now that I am on the subject one of the huge benefits for is simply mutual encouragement obviously. Like Paul says in Romans 1:10 10″I keep pleading that somehow by God’s will I may now at last prosper and come to you. 11For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen and establish you;

    12That is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

    The Bible says are FAITH is more precious than Gold and that the kingdom of God is like a field with a treasure in it and a man sells all his stuff to buy the field. My point is that I believe our faith being mutually strengthened like Paul is saying in Romans 1:10-12 is like that treasure in the field and visiting your sponsor child to strengthen your faith and their faith and their families’ faith and the Country office workers’ faith is worth selling my stuff to visit or “buy the field with the treasure in it” my trip to Nicaragua helped me remember how and why faith is so IMPORTANT and strengthening it was worth the effort!!! Also I am a mist and while I visited Nicaragua and I have paid for the Philippines trip I do not even know what tomorrow will bring!!!

    James 4:14Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].

    I always think I will live to 77 years old no problem, but I like how the Bible tells me I do not even know if I will last through tomorrow!!! Even reading the verse I still think I will live decades into the future no problem. Watch it tell me what you think…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vih0N6rmryM

    I guess it is one of those things were you have to be there, but I still hope the video of part of the trip gives you some of the reality of what we experienced on the trip however small it may be.

  12. Mike Stephens
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 10:51 pm

    I am sure you that have visited know what I am saying, the GRACE and LOVE I experienced was AMAZING!!! It is probably the same phenomenon like every parent thinks there child is the BEST, but man!!!!!!!!! I am so thankful for that visit to Nicaragua!!! I still remember writing letters saying, I am going to visit and when I was down there talking with Osmari’s mom and project director they looked at me and said “When you said you were coming to visit, I didn’t believe you until they called me.” I guess another reason I love to visit (even though I have only visited once) is that 1) it seems impossible to me to make it happen and 2) I think they see it as impossible too!!! and they should see it as impossible b/c I was told I was the first Sponsor from Osmari’s project to visit!!! So I was the first sponsor they had seen possibly ever!!! So no wonder they were a little skeptical B/c there project is located a little ways from the country office. Praise the Lord for letting me experience such an amazing trip!!!

  13. Mike Stephens
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 10:57 pm

    Prais the LORD!!! He was with Shammah in the field full of lentils against hundreds of Philistines in II Samuel 23:8-23 and HE is with US!!! God please give us the faith, BOLDNESS, COURAGE, FIERCITY and OBEDIENCE that Shammah had in that field on that day!!! Thank you for Shammah’s example in the Bible!!! Hallelujah!!!

  14. Mike Stephens
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 10:59 pm

    Sell your house, sell your car, sell your old clothes and visit your Compassion child before it’s too late!!! I do not have a car to sell or a house for that matter but if I did I hope I would sell them if I needed to in order to visit the kids I sponsor with Compassion!!! I believe it would be more than worth it!!!

  15. Mar 5, 2009
    at 10:27 pm

    @Mike Stephens – Thank you Mike for your response. The dance was beautiful, and I just recieved this past summer a picture of Joselin in a dance dress, only it was a colorful one. I know the Lord is leading me to go, May of 2009. I’m already in prayer, and I know if it’s the Lord’s will He will provide the money. Aren’t these precious children amazing. I love Compassion, and am so happy and blessed to be a part of it. God Bless you, and keep in touch with you compassion travels.

    On God’s Path,
    Linda

  16. Mike Stephens
    Mar 7, 2009
    at 2:26 pm

    Yes,

    Linda I agree with you!!! The kids are amazing!!! After I was down there in Nicaragua and came back I was able to sponsor a child from one of the projects we visited. I sent Compassion a picture that had me and Joceling in it and they found her and she did not have a sponsor so I decided to sponsor her. Almost the same name as the child you sponsor!!! Take lots of pictures please and video when you visit Nicaragua!!! I hope to take tons of pictures of the Philippines and some videos if I can get a hold of a camera for myself and for the benefit of the kids and so others can plainly see the work Compassion is doing!!!

    Dios le Bendiga!!!

    Mike

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