In Masatepe, Nicaragua
August 29, 2018
Bringing people together to help the oppressed is possible today. Following Jesus’ example of combining compassion and evangelism, entire communities can experience transformation with your help. In communities with oppressed people, there are already passionate locals who see surrounding needs but lack the resources or training to meet them in a sustainable way. That’s where your help is so important – supporting the effort to enter a community, training leaders to listen and come alongside locals to create a long-term, unique plan for transformation. They bring people together to help the oppressed, and lives and communities are transformed by the power of God.
Brandon and his wife Hannah are leaders with One Collective and have served in the community of Masatepe, Nicaragua for the past 6 years. They have witnessed amazing results, but when violence and protests broke out recently across Nicaragua, Brandon and the team faced difficult decisions. Here he shares the latest news of the crisis and a heartwarming story of his relationship with a local partner, Leonel, and their work together in the midst of new challenges they face.
When I first started working alongside the community of Masatepe in 2010, I had just spent the past decade working in the homebuilding and real estate industries of Central Indiana. It may seem an unlikely transition to a lifestyle of working alongside the poor and oppressed in Nicaragua, but this was God’s way of preparing us for the real work of community transformation.
I quickly found myself using my skills as a general contractor in bringing together the many different people it takes to get the job done to develop strong networks among key people in Masatepe. I spent my first few years listening to locals and doing my best to learn what strengths and resources the community had to offer. I met a number of incredible Nicaraguans who were already working in inspiring ways to see
Leonel responded with a smile, pulled out a notebook, and slid it across the table. In it, he had years worth of plans and opportunities to build the very work I had just described. He already had the vision. He already knew who was at work. He already knew what was possible. He was simply looking for a way to get everyone working together to see his community transformed.
In April of this year, when violent rioting broke out across Nicaragua, the work and plans developed together over the past years were about to get tested by fire. Multiple social businesses depend on the stability of the local economy, and a team of 45 staff members, both Nicaraguans and Americans, are dedicated to the projects, partnerships
Then, the U.S. Embassy pulled its own workers and the evacuation of foreigners went into full swing. We had to accept the difficult decision to move the entire American staff stateside. This left every project and business on the shoulders of the remaining 25 Nicaraguan staff members. But they were trained and prepared for this. Building strong Nicaraguan leadership was mission-critical to stewarding the many important things God was accomplishing in Masatepe.
Almost three months since our exit from Nicaragua, I'm still in utter awe of how our Nicaraguan team has stepped up to lead and remain strong in these incredibly challenging times. Leonel, and many other leaders like him, have risen to the occasion, balancing the difficulties they are facing personally with the challenges of operating projects and ministries. This is the very picture of sustainable community transformation at work!
I am incredibly proud to report that not a single business or project or partnership has been interrupted despite everything our team and our community have been faced with. Because the team was built on the foundation of bringing together local strengths to meet local needs and using sustainable business practices, the work goes on long after we were forced to leave.
Leonel and I play different roles in this work today, but what hasn’t changed is our shared heart to bring people together to help Masatepe. We are wired the same; to build and connect. By combining our networks and connecting people around a shared goal, we have formed a dynamic partnership that God has used to transform the community.
Our friendship is rooted in years of sharing meaningful work together, but also in the