Rigoberto grew up in Nicaragua, and is familiar with the challenges children face: Unstable homes. Abuse. Hunger. Addiction. It is no wonder so many leave home before they turn seven.
Living on the street, children are quickly recruited into gangs or human trafficking.
Rigoberto knew these children needed the love and comfort of their heavenly Father. As he shared the Gospel, many accepted Christ into their hearts.
But without education or vocational training, young believers were still caught in the cycle of poverty. How could they begin a new life in Christ?
That’s how God put a dream into Rigoberto’s heart, and into the heart of his son and ministry partner Juan Carlos: a ministry to reach teenagers in the most critical years of their life.
A Working Farm for Teens in Need
They first set up a small workshop at a local church to teach the boys how to weld and woodwork. But it didn’t take long for their ministry to grow into what is known today as Finca Belén: a working farm, pottery shop, restaurant, cosmetology school and agricultural training center.
Pastors in the area now know they can bring teenagers to the farm, where they would have a chance to change their life. Up to twenty boys live on the farm at a time, learning reading and math, developing a viable trade and basic life skills. Surprising tasks, like waking up and going to bed on time are new skills they need to learn for employment. After successfully completing this six-month program, the farm staff helps each boy find a job.
Transformation is evident in the face of each teen. Pastor Gonzalo is the carpentry instructor and a “dad” that lives with the boys. But he himself was a gang member living on the street before he met Rigoberto and Juan Carlos, and gave his life to Christ at Finca Belén.
The missionaries’ creativity and generosity has made the farm a beacon of light in the hopelessness of poverty, and have expanded its ministry to educate girls, young women, and local sharecroppers as well. By teaching farmers new ways to grow corn, what wasn’t enough to feed their families now yields a surplus they can sell.
Rigoberto and Juan still have big dreams to help their community. They drilled a 200-foot well with an electrical pump, and would like to start teaching the farmers how to grow a greater variety of vegetables. They are building a guesthouse for short-term teams to help with work at Finca Belén, and perhaps most importantly, complete the church under construction on site.
Juan Carlos says, “Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and we are in the poorest area. But through what God is doing, we are going to be the most blessed area.”