The country of Nicaragua has been a priority for Cross International since 2006, when we expanded our reach into Central and South America. A stunningly beautiful country, Nicaragua is also a place of tremendous need. It is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere with severe poverty and lack of services to meet basic human needs, like clean water, education, health care, and a sustaining working wage. Almost half of Nicaraguans live below the poverty line, and protests and unrest in 2018 have made the last several years particularly difficult.
But to Cross International, Nicaragua is also a place of tremendous opportunity. Zach Oles, Cross International’s Director of International Programs, sees the potential for change when he looks at the strong partnerships with local ministry partners there. “What makes these projects in Nicaragua so exciting to me is seeing these larger, long-term, holistic, community-based programs working to solve generational issues,” he says.
Looking at Cross International’s partners in Nicaragua—Amigos for Christ, Arms of Love, Agros, and Rainbow Network—it is easy to see why their work is so inspiring.
Amigos for Christ
A Cross International ministry partner for more than 10 years, Amigos for Christ is based in Chinandega, in northwest Nicaragua. They practice being vecinos, or “good neighbors,” building trust with rural communities in order to develop local leadership, build infrastructure, and provide critically important education.
Last year, Cross International partnered with Amigos for Christ to address a startling need in La Danta, a village of 96 families where 100% of the drinking water supply was contaminated. Together, the project funded a new well, provided a 10,000 gallon water tank, hand-dug 5-miles of trenches, and installed pipes enabling clean water to flow to all 576 people in the village.
Clean water is only one part of Amigos for Christ’s “Plan 7,” a community development plan that also focuses on healthcare, education, and economic development to systematically support communities toward sustained prosperity over a seven-year period. Their slogan? Juntos, or “together” in English. It’s an approach to partnership that Cross International is proud to support.
Arms of Love
Arms of Love is another ministry Cross International is proud to have partnered with since 2006. Located in Jinotepe, an old coffee plantation located a little more than an hour from the capital city of Managua, Arms of Love has created an orphanage and community center that are an oasis for abandoned and vulnerable children.
In addition to a residential program for orphans, more than 50 local children attend daily after-school activities, devotions, and supplemental educational training. Arms of Love seeks to show Christ’s love to every child, many of whom come from abusive and traumatic situations.
Often, staff members like cooks and security guards have as much free time to talk with the children as social workers do, so every staff member is trained in how to deal with kids healing from traumatic experiences. As part of Cross International’s ongoing commitment to helping kids thrive, we are partnering with Arms of Love to train their staff to provide the maximum level of services to children.
While Agros International is a newer Cross International partner, their work is just as exciting. Agros provides livelihood assistance to families struggling to break the cycle of poverty. Often, hard-working couples in Nicaragua are only able to find work as day laborers, earning a fraction of what they need and unable to gain a financial foothold.
In partnership with Cross International, Agros builds communities, complete with a school and health clinic, where families have access to land, housing, and education about climate-smart farming and how to sell their harvests to larger markets. This enables families to double and triple typical yields and income through what they’ve been taught about crop selection, irrigation, and other techniques. As a result, families are able to pay their modest mortgages and eventually own their own homes and farms for the first time.
That was the story of Nolan, a husband and father of two who had been struggling to make ends meet. Before joining an Agros village, the most he had ever made was $1000 a year. Now, he makes 3 times that amount, as he lives and works on his very own four acres of land. It’s exactly the kind of success the Cross International and Agros partnership is designed to support.
The Rainbow Network is a long-term Cross International partner in Nicaragua. Their focus is long-term engagement and support of local community efforts, and their outreach expands into dozens of communities throughout the country. They provide housing, clean water, education, and microloan assistance to populations who wouldn’t otherwise have access to these vital services and opportunities. In the past, Cross International has been able to partner with Rainbow Network in a variety of ways, from buying land and providing small mortgages to encourage first-time home ownership, to providing free healthcare, to education support that ensures all children are attending school, to stocking pharmacy shelves so communities have the medicines they need.
In each partnership, Cross International sees a confident hope in the future of this nation. “The need is great, and in order to make a true difference you need to have a long-term investment and vision there,” Zach says, “and that’s where we want to be. It’s why we partner with who we partner with in Nicaragua—those who share our focus.” By giving to Cross International, you have the opportunity to join in this partnership and be part of long-term transformation for the people of Nicaragua.