Outreach that started with a small medical clinic has grown to meet needs ranging from education to water systems.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

JINOTEGA, Nicaragua — In a nation where many live on just a few dollars a day, things most U.S. residents take for granted make a world of difference.

An aspirin to relieve a headache. A filter to provide clean water. A classroom for boys and girls to receive an education.

Here in Central America’s poorest country, a 20-year-old outreach called Misión Para Cristo — Spanish for “Mission for Christ” — brings blessings such as these to thousands.

“It’s a basic fact,” said Benny Baker, the American missionary who with his wife, Donna, started the Christian nonprofit in 1997. “You cannot teach a hungry man. You cannot teach a man who is sick. They are not in a position to hear.”

Misión Para Cristo began with a small medical clinic in this mountain city a few hours north of the capital of Managua. The Bakers worked with a Nicaraguan minister and 12 church members to launch the clinic.

In the two decades since, the mission — overseen since 2013 by the Grapevine Church of Christ in Texas — has planted dozens of congregations, built or remodeled 25 school buildings and become one of Nicaragua’s largest providers of medical care outside of the government.

Besides nearly a dozen full-time American missionaries, Misión Para Cristo relies on a core staff of 47 Nicaraguans — including directors who coordinate areas such as health care, education and construction.

“How did we get here?” Baker said, contemplating the 40,000 patients served each year and the 1,000 adults and children who worship with 28 congregations supported by Misión Para Cristo. “It’s a God thing.”

Read the full story.

Related column: On international trip, this picky eater asks, ‘What’s on the menu?’ (from Panama City)

These stories appear in the February 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle. 

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