On November 16, Hurricane Iota slammed into Nicaragua’s coast as a Category 4 storm, hitting an area already reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Eta only two weeks earlier. Homes and businesses were destroyed or badly damaged and thousands were forced to leave their villages in search of safer conditions. In response to the recovery efforts coordinated by ministry partners, the Texas Baptists Hunger Offering (TBHO) has designated a $15,000 grant to Missional Team, Inc. to provide meals for Nicaraguan families returning to their homes and villages along the coast following the hurricanes. Missional Team, Inc. is a ministry centered around serving others, training leaders and sharing Christ with teams located in Nicaragua and Ethiopia.
On Dec. 4, Jim Palmer, executive director of Missional Teams, Inc., and Peter Murrell, a stateside missionary to Nicaragua, traveled to Nicaragua to help the already established Nicaragua leadership team (NICA team) in the emergency response. In addition to providing meals through TBHO, the ministry has also partnered with the International Mission Board (IMB) to provide set up feeding centers. Hope Springs Water company has also committed to help with water well decontamination and building new wells for the indigenous people and mosquito netting.
Palmer explained that the need in Nicaragua is great following the hurricanes. Many people were left homeless from the first hurricane and gathered in churches and schools when the second one hit. Furthermore, any food the families had stored at home was also destroyed.
“The next morning [after the hurricane], the pastors woke up and had 100 families in their churches and needed to find ways to feed them and provide for them,” Palmer said.
In response, the NICA team has set up feeding centers throughout the villages in partnership with local churches. They also prepared survival kits for families ready to return home and begin rebuilding. The boxes of food, provided through TBHO funds, will give families returning home from refuge centers two weeks worth of food as they begin the long process of rebuilding. In addition to the food, the families are also given a machete, family-sized mosquito net, a water purification dropper and bleach.
Stories of generosity and gratitude are already beginning to pour out of Nicaragua. Palmer shared one such story of a NICA team coordinator who had a truck of people show up to his door, asking for him by name. They were coffee farmers from northern Nicaragua, and they had come down with coffee for those hit by the disaster. When they asked locals where they should distribute the coffee, they were immediately directed to the coordinator because the efforts of the NICA team were well-known and respected throughout the area.
“Our goal is to come alongside these local churches and efforts,” Palmer explained. “We want to empower their ministry so that people know they can come to their local church for help.”
Katie Fruge, director of TBHO, expressed her joy at working alongside Missional Team, Inc. and their ministry in Nicaragua.
"Part of the Hunger Offering’s mission and work is to unite the body of Christ and provide holistic transformation in the name of Jesus. The devastation caused by back-to-back direct hits by hurricanes Eta and Iota further damaged an already fragile community,” said Fruge. “The Hunger Offering is thrilled to work in collaboration with others to provide emergency food supplies as families begin the long process of rebuilding. We are thankful to Jim Palmer and the NICA team for the opportunity, and we pray for their success as they respond to this crisis with the love of Christ."
For more information about the Hunger Offering, go to hungeroffering.com.