In Nicaragua more than 300 children have learned about the gospel from the Fuente de Vida Church, which runs the Amiguitos del Rey Child Development Center. Dozens of children and families have come to Christ and are an example that the real difference in their lives is their faith in Jesus.
For eight years the pastor, child development center staff, and church committee have worked with these children to help them grow. The results of the everyday effort of these people is rewarded when a child, parent or other relative comes to know God.
Fuente de Vida is very well-known in the Los Brasiles community, located 16.5 kilometers (10 miles) west of the center of Managua. The church has grown and the facilities have been improved to the point that they have a big new temple and the old one is used for classrooms. And, there are plans to buy new properties next to the church in order to continue growing.
Shisel, a Compassion-sponsored young girl is one of the children affirming her faith in God. At only 15 years old, she battles with the fact that her parents, her only brother, and some of her other relatives have different religious beliefs than she does. However, Shisel can tell there is a difference in her since she gave her life to the Lord four years ago. Her family, friends and development center staff confirm that too.
“Shisel is on her way to spiritual maturity. Learning God’s Word, taking time to pray and other spiritual activities at the center are helping her to grow. She’s always willing to open her heart to God. I think that’s good because most teenagers put up a wall when it’s time to be in God’s presence and don’t receive what He has for them,” expresses Alicia, Development Center Director.
“My decision to accept Christ came out of my heart. I used to say that if I wasn’t walking in God’s way I had no right to have eternal life. My aunts have also encouraged me to seek God. I made the decision during a devotional time, and I felt different,” says Shisel.
The activities and benefits at the center are helping Shisel as she’s growing closer to God. At 15, Shisel has benefited from Complementary Intervention Programs (CIV) like attending camp and computer, bakery and beauty classes. The camps for youth in Nicaragua have proven to be some of the most impacting events the development centers offer.
Shisel recalls her experience on the first night of the youth camp:
“In the camp I felt the Holy Spirit, we were all crying, we hugged each other praying and asking for forgiveness. I feel that night I reconciled with God.”
Many teenagers like Shisel felt an experience with the Lord those two days. Since then, the development center staff have seen more faithfulness and commitment from the teenagers in attending church and participating in various activities at the center.
“The games at camp were not simple games; all of them had a message. The one that impacted me most was when we had to crawl through wet dirt. We all were covered in mud and that’s how the devil wants to see us, full of sin,” Shisel shares in tears.
The child development center staff visited every school director to get the schools’ permission for all registered teenagers who were going to the camp. During those visits one of the school directors congratulated us for the work we do.
“I’m happy because the school is most interested in the transformation of the young people. I wish there was Compassion everywhere, it would be a blessing for us. Because of Compassion communication with schools is more open.”
Although we can provide many benefits for children living in poverty, their life really begins to change when the Holy Spirit starts to transform them and shows them the life He has for them.
“The Word of God is what provokes changes in the children. When the Word comes into the life of the children, they begin to understand God’s plan for their lives, they understand what God wants to do in them. It is also central because our work depends on the Word of God. The Bible says, ‘Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain’ (Psalm 127:1, NIV). That’s why the gospel is central to the work every development center does,” shares Alicia.
Half of the children registered in the Amiguitos del Rey Development Center and their parents have accepted Jesus during these years of partnership with Compassion. Some of them go to different churches closer to their homes in the community and their faith has become stronger.
God works in ways we cannot understand to transform people’s lives and that is what’s happening to Shisel and many of the children at each development center. Little by little that faith is becoming unshakable and bringing fruit. People in the area who didn’t want to come to church are now attending regularly, and no one is forcing them to do it.
“I glorify God because of the work He does,” says Alicia. “Jesus is making the difference in their lives.”