Two weeks ago I was in Nicaragua visiting churches involved in some unique ministries that both demonstrate and proclaim the gospel.

The group I was with, mostly pastors from U.S. churches affiliated with the Willow Creek Association, visited church ministries in Nicaragua connected with Compassion International.

Before this trip, I was familiar with Compassion International only as an agency that provided sponsorships for impoverished children around the world. On this trip I saw that these sponsorships weren't just random children, but they were children involved in child development programs at local churches in needy areas.

For example, a few of us visited a family in Ciudad de Sandorino, where a grandmother and grandfather were caring for their orphaned grandson. They didn't have electricity in their three-room house. They supported themselves by selling tortillas made, two or three at a time, on a small wood-burning stove.

The grandson, 10-year-old Axel, attended an after-school program ...

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