Leticia lived with the unmistakable pain of hunger almost every day of her life. She rarely got enough to eat, and when she got pregnant at 19, she didn’t know how she would be able to feed her baby, too.
Sadly, her plight was not uncommon in her city. Established as a government relocation area for those displaced by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Sandino City struggles with high unemployment, poor infrastructure, and extreme poverty. The need there is great, but when Nicaraguan Pastor Valeriano Manzanares, a graduate of ABWE’s Institute for Church Planters, visited he didn’t just see great need — he saw great opportunity. He began a plan to share Christ’s love and plant a new church by opening a feeding center in a neighborhood in Sandino City called Tangará.
Word about the Rayitos Feeding Center spread, and when Leticia heard, she took her baby and her little brother down to check it out. She arrived at a simple cement building on a dirt lot, and lined up with about 100 children — each eagerly awaiting what was likely their only meal of the day.
Before the meal, Pastor Valeriano and ABWE missionaries Mark and Jenn Holsinger led the children in a time of worship, prayer, and a Bible lesson. Then, Leticia’s baby, her brother, and the other children gratefully received the standard meal of rice and soy, pureed potatoes, and tortillas.
“At first, the kids came for the food. Then, they came because of the relationships they formed with the teachers,” said Mark Holsinger. “We pray that as they grow they will also come because of their love for God and His word.”
Mark’s prayer was answered through Leticia. As the wholesome food nourished her body, the Word of God began nourishing her soul. She watched the Rayitos staff lovingly care for her baby and the other children. She listened intently as Pastor Valeriano and the others talked about a loving God who sent His only Son to die for her. Soon, Leticia began memorizing Bible verses and participating in worship and prayer.
Then one day, as the children were receiving their food after the lesson, Leticia sat down with Pastor Valeriano and asked him to help her accept Christ — becoming the first adult saved through the Rayitos Feeding Center.
Leticia now attends the adult Sunday school class, and has become one of the first members of the church plant started by Pastor Valeriano.
“We truly believe that the children are the key to reaching our entire area,” said Pastor Valeriano. “We have already seen this ministry’s ability to make an impact, and we are praying to expand its reach so we can impact even more hearts in Tangará.”
Learn how you can help feed more Nicaraguan children.