Our Nutrition Center and Orphanage
The Father's Heart
God’s heart, has always been for the poor and disenfranchised. For the widow and the orphan, and for the foreigner. You can go back to the beginning in God’s Word and see how He’s always made a way for them. Here in Leviticus 19, the Lord admonishes the Israelites to provide for the poor and foreigner.
“When you harvest your grain, always leave some of it standing along the edges of your fields and don't pick up what falls on the ground. Don't strip your grapevines clean or gather the grapes that fall off the vines. Leave them for the poor and for those foreigners who live among you. I am the LORD your God.” (Contemporary English Version)
The Father’s heart is tender to the plight of widows and orphans and He doesn’t want us to become calloused and hard-hearted toward helping them. These themes run throughout the Bible and culminate in James chapter 1.
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (New Living Translation)
Our Nutrition Center
This is our ministry to Nicaragua’s abused, abandoned and orphaned children. It is by far one of the most rewarding things we do. If you’ve followed our ministry very long you’ve probably heard us refer to this ministry by many names.
- The nutrition center.
- The re-nutrition center.
- The orphanage.
- Our home for abused and abandoned children.
The truth is, our center is all these things, regardless to what we may call it. Here in Nicaragua, the “official” name of our center is Centro de Nutrición Integral, Vida Nueva Nicaragua. This translates to New Life Nicaragua’s Whole Nutrition Center. In spanish there is an implied meaning of “complete wholeness” as in spirit, soul and body. Our center is one of only two such centers that exist in Nicaragua. We are the only center that works directly with the government to take in children on a national basis.
Re-Nutrition Center Defined
Our center is set in a loving home environment where Christ comes first and our first course of treatment is unconditional love, and lots of it. It’s amazing how this begins the healing process. We have a well equipped facility with a doctor, psychologist and specially trained staff that are equipped to meet the medical, nutritional and developmental challenges of children that suffer from acute starvation and/or chronic malnutrition. Most of the children that come into our center are placed there by the government and have been severely neglected or abandoned. Some have been sexually and/or physically abused. Nearly all of them are orphans. All of them are suffering from malnutrition. Initially, these children are very difficult to reach because they’re closed off emotionally and their defense mechanisms are in overdrive. But a great transformation takes place in those first two weeks. All of those survival mechanisms melt away and they become children again. They’re willing to be known and vulnerable to you. What a joy it is to witness this transformation. The children respond quickly to unconditional love, personal safety, regular meals and a roof over their heads. This begins the process of becoming whole; spirit, soul and body. Watch the video below and this will give you a better idea of what we do.
Malnutrition’s Cause and Effect
Malnutrition in children is most critical at conception and up to two years of age. During this window of time the effects of malnutrition can be treated and reversed. A number of factors can contribute to malnutrition in children.
- Improper pre-natal care.
- Low birth weight.
- Quality of diet.
- Improper hygeine.
- Disease and prolonged illness.
- Environmental factors.
- Psychological factors.
Past the age of two, the effects of chronic malnutrition are irreversible. Symptoms include stunted growth, slow and improper motor development, diminished mental capacity and a higher risk for illness, disease and premature death. These symptoms will resonate throughout the child’s life. This also leads to a diminished earning capacity for those effected and the cycle repeating itself. Unfortunately, children are the most vulnerable members of society and the ones most adversely affected. It’s impossible to live in Nicaragua and not encounter the effects of malnutrition on a daily basis.
How It All Began
In 2004, after sensing the Lord’s lead and a lot of soul searching and communication with the Nicaraguan government we moved ahead with the plans to start a ministry to Nicaraguan children. We began by sharing the vision with our friends and supporters, hoping to raise the stat-up costs for this project. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get enough funds to start the project so we started going into the local hospitals and treating the kids there. That went on for a while and then we had our “Field of Dreams - you build it and they will come”, moment with the Lord. We sensed the Lord leading us to step out in faith and start the project with our own money. When we left the States to come to Nicaragua we sold our home and had some equity money left over from the sale. For me, this money was my security blanket. If I ever needed to move back to the States, I could start life over with this money. Or I could use the money to help my sons, Abram and Jacob, go to college. So here we were, at a crossroads in our faith. After much prayer, Chris and I both agreed that this is what the Lord would have us do. So we did it. We rented a house, put together a staff and opened our re-nutrition center. Our first two children were Rafael and Nyerling, whom have since been adopted to a great family from Washington State. Over the next two years we operated at a deficit and put over $40,000 dollars of our money into this project. We were one payroll away from being totally broke when God started sending people out of nowhere to support our work. Mind you these are people we didn’t even know two weeks prior. In the course of 30 days, we went from one payroll away from being broke to operating in the black for the first time in our ministries history. God is faithful: we built it and they came out of everywhere to support this project. Suddenly children started coming in from all over Nicaragua. In the middle of 2008 we had grown to 49 kids and 24 full-time employees at the re-nutrition center. God was blessing the ministry. Then in October of 2008 the ecomomy collapsed and we were down 30% in donations. November came and we’re down 40%. December; 50%, and that’s where we leveled off. What we’ve had to do since then is scale the project back to operate on less funding. That basically means helping less kids. This is tragic because there are more kids in crisis now than ever before and we are having to turn them away. We have made up some of that funding since the downturn but were still not able to get back where we were. If there is anything I’ve learned in all of this it’s that God is faithful and He loves these kids more than I do. He will provide for them in His timing.
One More Testimony
When we were wrestling with the idea of investing our life’s savings and children’s college money into this project I made another promise to God. I said, “Lord, I’ll take care of your kids, but you have to take care of mine.” And once again God’s has proven Himself faithful. My son has just been accepted into the college of his choice and he’s received scholarships that will cover his entire tuition. All I have to come up with is his room and board. Praise God!