In 1988, Jim and Sarah Hornsby went to Nicaragua to begin a ministry to youth. Jim, a Presbyterian pastor and founder of Habitat for Humanity in Nicaragua was invited to come by the pastor of the Nazarene Church, Catholic Church leaders, and CEPAD.

Jim and Sarah had previously worked with Young Life in the US for 14 years. Jim felt a strong call to work in Nicaragua, especially with marginalized youth.

While living in Matagalpa, a town in the mountainous region of the country, they contacted youth through English classes and sports. They looked for adults in those neighborhoods who could build Christ centered friendships with local youth. Gradually clubs were formed.  A club involves a weekly neighborhood gathering; open to all youth, with games, music, skits and a short Bible message. Each neighborhood where a club is formed has a Committee of Parents to aid in the work.  Following several years of groundwork, the Nicaraguan government approved the program as a non-profit religious foundation in 1999.

While in the US, Young Life works primarily with middle class high school youth, in Nicaragua they work with youth from “the bottom of the barrios.”  Each week they work with 1,000 high school age kids.  They have a good relationship with both the Catholic and Protestant churches within the country.  They have built a healthcare clinic, and bring in doctors and other healthcare workers from the US.

In addition to the clubs, Young Life operates a camp in the mountains, where the young people go for several days away from the overcrowded cities. Near the camp, 25 acres are set aside for growing coffee, which is sold to raise funds for the organization. The workers are paid a fair wage and are provided with housing and healthcare through the clinic. The coffee is sold in the US.

With an average age of 16 years, and as the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, there is a tremendous need for programs to help youth to prosper mentally, culturally and spiritually.

Following the Hornsby’s retirement in 2008, their place was taken by Danny and Ann Sharpe. At this time, the organization is trying to transition to a Nicaraguan-led organization. Many of you will remember Hollman Mendoza, the young man who spoke to us early last year. Hollman has recently been promoted to one of the National Director positions.

In 2012, Trinity’s Global Missions Ministry has contributed $2,000 to Young Life in Nicaragua.