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On November 29th 2014, 18ten sent Joe and David to meet with Jason Rogers and the local pastors near Diriamba, Nicaragua in order to continue planning the details for the Before & After School program in that region.  The men prayerfully sought the Lord’s guidance in determining the main objectives for the ministry, finding the initial location, and identifying capable, Godly individuals to help run the program.  They spent five days with Jason Rogers and local Christians in Diriamba before returning home to Texas on December 4th, 2014.  Here is a trip recap from Joe including updates and next steps for the Before & After School program.

Local Efforts: Jason Rogers and family have been working in Nicaragua for the past 13 years.  After pastoring several churches in the area, Jason started a satellite seminary in Diriamba to further the Christian education of some of the local men.  Eight individuals graduated with a two year degree from his Bible College in January of 2014 and five of these men now pastor churches in the region. We were able to join most of them in a prayer meeting on Saturday soon after we arrived.  Jason, his son Jaron, and local pastors Ramon, Junior, Chepe, and Chuy prayed with some of the local men for God’s blessing on the upcoming services and for direction as we sought to plan the Before & After School program.  Over the next five days, we realized that all five churches and pastors are extremely busy, running Sunday church services, children’s Bible Schools, and feeding stations along with prayer meetings and other community outreach programs.  Unfortunately, the churches do not have enough assets to meet the overwhelming physical and spiritual needs the children in the area are facing.  The situation can be frustrating as the need is there, right outside each church and these men want desperately to help.  We truly believe this is why God directed us to them last summer.

Oasis de la Gracia begins!  God answered all our prayers and more on this trip!  The local pastors, spearheaded by Jason and Ramon, are excited about working with 18ten to start a program they named “Oasis de la Gracia” – the Oasis of Grace.  They want this Before & After School program to truly provide a place of relief to children; a place that meets their spiritual and physical needs and is representative of the overwhelming grace of God.  The four main objectives of the program are to provide needy children with the gospel, tutoring, meals, and life skills.  The men feel this ministry will not only help meet the physical and spiritual needs of the children, but enable them to develop a regular, pro-longed, and lasting relationship with these young men.  The hope is this lasting relationship will help lead to a new generation of skilled, capable Christians, eager to contribute to sharing the light of the Gospel in that region.  Ramon and Jason settled on the village of Dolores as the best initial place to begin, as it is halfway between the two largest towns in the region, Diriamba and Jinotepe.  Finally, several members of the churches have come forward as potential candidates to help with tutoring and serve as director of the Oasis de la Gracia.   While the majority of the funding for this ministry will initially have to come from outside of Nicaragua, the pastors and Jason are committed to truly “owning” this work as an outreach of the church itself.

The next step:  Ramon, Jason, and the rest of the men are working on several key things over the next two months.  First, determining the right individuals and seeing if they will be willing to serve in this ministry.  Second, finding a location to rent that will have the space and safety to serve the children.  Third, starting to buy the necessary equipment (tables, chairs, desks, white boards, computers, kitchen equipment, etc…) to properly run the ministry.  And finally, developing the curriculum for the bible ministry and ensuring we are prepared to adequately tutor the children in their schoolwork.

We at 18ten are seeking to raise the necessary funds and help collect materials to start this crucial ministry.  Lord willing, we would like to start in early 2015, soon after the local school-year begins in February.  Please pray that the Lord continues to guide us in every endeavor and that we patiently trust in His good timing and will.

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