The following is adapted from the
first chapter of God Distorted by John Bishop.
I know people who have incredibly blessed relationships with their fathers. But sadly, in my experience, they are the minority. Mostly I hear stories of people who feel abandoned, devalued, criticized, and unable to measure up. I have heard stories of horrible abuse and of dads who were there but never really “there.” Yet, as important as a dad is, many children in America and throughout Western civilization are living with- out a father, or they bear the scars of an abusive, demanding, uninvolved father. The statistics are frightening:
63 percent of youth suicide victims are from fatherless homes.
90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
80 percent of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes.
71 percent of all high-school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
Children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68 percent more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs, compared to all teens in two-parent households.
Children with fathers who are involved are 40 percent less likely to repeat a grade in school.
Adolescent girls raised in two-parent homes with involved fathers are significantly less likely to be sexually active than girls raised without involved fathers.
To combat this epidemic the vocational class was started. Boys need a role model that can help them to change their perception of what it is to be a father. This is discipleship done in a way that eventually teaches boys to be men of God and a skill to provide for their families.
"The Little Rays of Light Preschool" is vital to the children in our community. Most of these 3-5 year olds do not receive any instruction at home on learning their numbers and letters and would excel in school later on. We also give these little people a head start on learning English. Some of these children walk over 3 miles on rough road to attend this free program. Preschool provides an opportunity for us to reach unchurched families and to offer counsel to them as well.
A very generous gift of a feeding center building has been given to Iglesia Bethania by Fraternity of Evangelical Churches Mission Central America (FIEMCA). FIEMCA is a 115 year old network of churches in Nicaragua dedicated to sharing the gospel of Christ, caring for the development of people, and serving those in poverty. Beginning in 2017, the feeding center will feed the 60+ children in the preschool and provide a nutritious lunch for other needy children in the community.
Sick and Elderly Care
There are two groups of people in our community who need extra assistance. It is especially hard for the elderly in Nicaragua if they don't have family to provide for them. Many are forced to work well past the age of 80 or live on the generosity of their neighbors. When a younger person (especially a provider) becomes ill, it is also a hardship on the family. The sick person not only loses wages earned while they are ill, but also needs to pay for the medicine to recover. We work with the church to aid these families in these times of need by providing food baskets, medicine, and financial assistance.
Youth Arts and Crafts
The average Nicaraguan does not own a computer or have reliable access to electricity and the internet. Our first corporate donor, Allstate Insurance of High Point North Carolina, has generously given 20 computers to our computer lab. Desks were constructed by the vocational students to furnish the computer lab. Wifi was installed in 2015 and it is the first time this has been available in our community. Unlimited use of the internet has opened the door to more than we had imagined. Students are educating themselves on how to make jewelry, crafts, and other things that they can sell through the instruction videos on YouTube. This lab is one more opportunity for the church to reach the youth in the community. Everyone wants to be knowledgable on how to use a computer because they know that this also opens the door to new job opportunities.
Every Saturday afternoon, a large group of youth gather to learn English. When students learns English, it opens the door for them to higher income opportunities and more job options for the future. We hold a Bible lesson at the end of every class, which makes this another evangelism tool to reach the unchurched youth in our community.
Saturdays are busy days at Iglesia Bethania. Not only are there English classes and a youth service, but there are also classes for the community youth to learn arts and crafts skills. These classes teach many things, jewelry making, hair bows and bands, piñatas, gift bags, centerpieces for tables, etc... We also teach business management skills so that the students not only make and sell these products, but also learn about how to manage the income they will generate. This is by far our most popular outreach for the community and the attendance for this class has risen from 5 the first year to over 75 now.