The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering helped provide food for Nicaraguan families reeling from twin disasters.
Hurricane Iota slammed into Nicaragua’s coast as a Category 4 storm on Nov. 16, hitting an area already reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Eta only two weeks earlier.
The hurricanes destroyed homes and businesses, and thousands of people were forced to leave their villages in search of safer conditions.
In response to recovery efforts coordinated by ministry partners, the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering 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 is a ministry centered on serving others, training leaders and sharing Christ with people in Nicaragua and Ethiopia.
Jim Palmer, executive director of Missional Team, and Peter Murrell, a stateside missionary to Nicaragua, traveled to the hard-hit area to help the already established Nicaraguan leadership team in the emergency response.
In addition to providing meals made possible by the hunger offering, the ministry also partnered with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board to set up feeding centers.
Hope Springs Water—a ministry with ties to First Baptist Church in Athens—also committed to help with water well decontamination and building new wells for the indigenous people and mosquito netting.
Significant needs in Nicaragua
Needs in Nicaragua are great following the hurricanes, Palmer explained. Many people were left homeless from the first hurricane and gathered in churches and schools when the second storm hit. Any food the families had stored at home was destroyed.
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“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 Nicaraguan team 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 hunger offering funds, will give families returning home from refugee centers enough food for two weeks as they begin the long process of rebuilding. In addition, the families are also given a machete, family-sized mosquito net, a water purification dropper and bleach.
Palmer described a Nicaraguan 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 arrived 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 mission 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 Frugé, director of hunger and care ministries with the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, expressed joy at working alongside Missional Team 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,” Frugé said.
“The hunger offering is thrilled to work in collaboration with others to provide emergency food supplies as families begin the long process of rebuilding.”