Nicaragua is a nation of contrasts, fittingly earning its reputation as “the land of fire and water” (a reference to its many volcanoes and lakes). But contrasts of a more serious kind are also part of the picture. Nicaragua possesses great beauty… as well as great poverty.
On a recent trip to visit this complex and fascinating nation, I discovered another dichotomy. Where there is extreme need, I found open-hearted generosity among the people.
In this case, our team was visiting several families who would soon be receiving help through Rainbow Network, our longtime ministry partner in Nicaragua. The families had little to call their own. They lived in small homes built from sticks and black plastic sheets with dirt floors that would quickly turn to mud in a storm. The houses were swelteringly hot inside, and they had no means of keeping out intruders or vermin. Still, these people welcomed us in. With warm smiles, they allowed us to experience their lives. It only took a few minutes to see all their worldly possessions.
As we left, several families promised to pray for us, for Cross Catholic Outreach, for Rainbow Network and for all of our supporters. One woman, a single mother of seven, told us, “I ask God that you can continue helping others because, just like me, there are many more in need.”
Our goal is to bless the poor, but often, the poor end up blessing us. They teach us about contentment, gratitude and persistence in prayer. Romans 5:3-4 best sums it up:
“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”