Nicaragua (MNN) — Nicaragua's street children problem is growing severe. Approximately one third of all children in the country never enroll in school or drop out by the sixth grade, often leaving them to lives of begging, illegal child labor situations, and disease.
The stench of the problem is growing rank. In the capital city of Managua alone, there are roughly 15,000 children between the ages of 7 and 15 living on the streets.
Without education, financial means, or access to most other modern conveniences, these kids' futures look grim–that is, unless they can make their way to the bright light coming from a nearby church.
Bethel Baptist Church has a heart for these street children. Once a week they offer them nourishment for the body, as well as for the soul.
"They bring in these street children every week," explains Howie Hooper with Orphan's Heart . "They give them a hot meal, teach them Bible stories, have some recreation times–a couple of hours that they can bring them out of their typical environment into the church environment–and hopefully teach them the love of God."
Orphan's Heart partners with Bethel to make their outreach shine even brighter.
Bethel reaches 190 children once each week. But with the help of Orphan's Heart, they hope to reach 250 on a regular basis by the end of the year. This could well be possible as Orphan's Heart brings in teams of volunteers to support these children for four-day weeks in a setting similar to VBS.
"We bring in a Vacation Bible School-type program where the kids come in for four days. We are able to teach them music, we're teaching them games, and we're teaching them, of course, the love of Christ," says Hooper.
Orphan's Heart and Bethel Baptist Church are seeing the fruits of their labor, too. Aside from everyday commitments made to follow Christ, 75 children recently yielded their lives to Christ in an evangelistic crusade.
There are four trips left this year for you to join with friends, family, church members, or on your own and help reach 250 street children. There's one trip coming up in June, and others in July, September and December. Anyone 10 years or older can go and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to these desperate-for-love street children. Find more information on trip dates here, or call 305-271-4121.
If you would just like to support a trip-goer financially, you can do so at orphansheart.org. But if this catches your interest, Hooper urges you to consider joining a trip. "If you are willing, if your heart is for the children in Nicaragua, then we want you to sign up. We want you to come with us and be part of our ministry."
While the economy has been good in Nicaragua in recent years, it still is the the second poorest in the hemisphere. But now lots of investment is coming from other Central American countries due to the relatively good safety and security of the country. I guess it just shows you that people can live poor but in a safe environment. If you are both poor and insecure, then all bets are off. Maybe that is why other countries are looking at the policing techniques used here