The Board of 18ten Ministries held its annual meeting on June 10, 2017. During this time, we reviewed the previous year and discussed things that were going well, things that needed improvement, and plans for the upcoming year.
We remain encouraged by the work that the Lord is doing in Nicaragua at the Oasis de la Gracia. He is transforming lives through the work of these local Christians. Close to forty children are currently receiving spiritual education and guidance, physical sustenance, and educational tutoring thanks to the work of this church. Here are a few important items of discussion concerning this ministry:
Permanent Home: While this ministry has been a blessing to many already, there are only eight children that have remained involved from the outset. Because part of our desire is to ensure that these children receive a quality education that will serve them throughout life, this number is too low. It seems that the major cause of this turnover is that the ministry’s physical location changed each year (up to this point it has been conducted in rental homes). The logistical problems created by these moves have resulted in a number of children being unable to continue in the program. We would like to solve this issue by finding a permanent home that is more properly suited for the ministry (something more like a school than a home). The Board agreed at the meeting to explore the possibility of leasing or purchasing a commercial lot in this region which would provide a more suitable long-term solution.
Transition to School: During a recent visit, local leadership expressed interest in transforming the before and after school program into a full-fledged school. In Nicaragua, children go to school for half the day, then many must work or help out around the house for the remainder of the day due to the poverty in this region. Many of the kids we are helping faced this impossible choice: participate in the program and go to school all day (1/2 day at public school, other half at Oasis de la Gracia) or quit the program and help provide for the family by working. This problem will only increase as we continue to expand into the older grades. To offset this, the local church suggested transitioning into a school so that the children could receive all of the benefits of the ministry while still retaining the ability to help out their family in the remaining half of the day. After much discussion, the Board agreed it would be wise to explore this option with them. A school presents an even greater opportunity for transforming the lives of these children. However, there are major concerns that need to be addressed:
– Whether the ministry remains cost-effective;
– Whether the ministry remains true to our model—a branch of the local church in that community (as opposed to an imposed, stand-alone ministry of 18ten); and
– Whether the ministry continues to serve the intended audience—disadvantaged children.
Hiring Program Administrator: In order to effectively manage current partnerships and establish new relationships for future ministries, we agreed unanimously to pursue hiring our first full-time staff position. To date, all work by 18ten has been performed on a volunteer basis. We feel it is time to take the next step to help strengthen our existing ministry, Oasis de la Gracia, and pursue partnerships that will open doors to more ministries in other areas of Central America. Click here for full details on this opportunity including a description of roles and responsibilities.
Please pray for wisdom as we explore these questions with the local leadership. Please also pray that God would provide qualified and like-minded candidates for the program administrator role we’re seeking to fill.