J osé Angel is a farmer, a father, and a grandfather to 12 grandkids. He also is a community leader. For many years, José has farmed corn and beans on a patch of land in northern Jinotega, Nicaragua, where he and his neighbors lived in extreme poverty. Life changed when he began working with the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD) five years ago.
“We live a different life than we did then,” José explains, “because CEPAD has taught us so many things we never knew how to do.”
CEPAD came to José’s village, Las Piedras, to walk with the community through a Christian community development process. Because of this training, José’s family no longer struggles to have enough to eat like they once did. Instead, his grandkids come to his house to eat the dozens of new fruits and vegetables he is growing.
“And they are taking advantage of it!” he says. “They love these new foods. I can see that they are getting healthier. They’re stronger and have more energy.”
Of all the new fruits José learned to cultivate, one stuck out the most—the guava. Guava is a tropical fruit that sells well in Nicaragua. Last year, José planted 2,000 guava plants on his property. With his crop, José plans to help his grandkids with school supplies, buy medication for his wife, and make needed repairs on their house.
José has big dreams for his new farm.
“I hope to buy some dairy cows with my crop too, so I can sell milk and develop my family’s income. I used to have a cow, but sometimes things happen when you’re poor. I had to sell it when my wife got sick and needed medicine.”
First Thessalonians 5:14 says, “Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with all.” José wasn’t idle or weak. He didn’t need admonishing or help through a handout. However, some encouragement through CEPAD’s training gave José the spark to help his family and his community beat poverty.
Now, José is training others in all the skills he has learned, and he is discipling farmers. What is his next big dream? Bringing electricity to his village.
This article was also published in RCA Today, the Reformed Church in America’s denominational magazine.
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Olivia Iekel is a missionary with the Reformed Church in America, partnering with CEPAD to empower communities and individuals to break the cycle of poverty. Learn more or support her ministry at www.rca.org/iekel.