“God’s economy is one of multiplication—and those of us with much are an essential part of that equation.”
The Fruits of Nicaragua – #MyGivingStory
By Andrea Miller
“Be fruitful and multiply.” For so long, I have taken God’s command in Genesis to mean “have babies and populate the earth.” I have since learned a deeper meaning of this verse can be interpreted as a command to multiply followers of Jesus and bear much fruit. Jesus even goes on to say that by our fruit we are recognized as his followers—that a tree will be known by its fruit.
What does this have to do with my giving story? Well I believe it is through the giving of ourselves, our bounty of fruit if you will, that others can know the love of Christ and His followers can be multiplied. Giving is how we live out God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.
My daughter and I recently joined Project Hope Worldwide on a short-term mission trip to Nicaragua. I was nervous and excited to go and meet Marva, a girl who my family had been sponsoring through Project Hope Worldwide over the last few years. I knew it would be a powerful experience to meet her and see the work and impact our sponsorship was making. What I didn’t expect was how deeply wrecked my heart would be. I’ve heard about and seen poverty online and in the news but nothing could prepare me to meet it face to face. Over my time in Nicaragua I learned the chapters of these children’s lives… story after story far too heavy and tragic for my human mind to fully grasp. Truly, these are the most vulnerable children in the world.
But amidst the despair I saw hope; hope that shone through children’s smiles, laughs and hugs. The children whose lives had been literally changed through Project Hope Worldwide’s holistic care and the willingness of sponsors to give. You see, the kids at the Nicaragua Hope Project literally live on the edge of a trash dump—born into a life of scavenging for basic necessities, where running water is a rarity, girls aren’t valued and an education isn’t guaranteed. In a sense, they are born into a life that lacks hope—hope for anything better than the life of their parents. But that hopelessness is changing, I saw it firsthand. I saw thriving, happy, healthy children receiving an education, learning about the love of God and transforming their own community.
Orphans and children with single moms whose lives were once dismal and hopeless are now seeing glimpses of more and the possibility of a better future. They see that God has not forgotten them and that through Jesus’s ultimate commandment to “Love One Another” their futures are literally being changed. Because we in the US are blessed with a bounty of fruit we can share and give it away for the glory of the kingdom.
Perhaps my most impactful memory from my time in Nicaragua was a day at the beach with my daughter and a group of girls from the Hope Project. To a bystander, watching them play in the ocean just looked like girls having a fun day at the beach. But there was so much more beneath the surface. As I watched my own daughter play with these girls, I couldn’t stop thinking about just how different their stories are. One girl of privilege growing up in the US with two loving parents and every material need/want provided for… the other girls, born in Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere. But here they were laughing and playing, and it struck me right there-the full impact of what love, advocacy and fighting for the “least of these” can do. These girls now had new hope for a future and a better story for themselves and generations to come.
As I sort through my thoughts I still wrestle with the word “blessed.” Does the Lord really “bless” those of us in the US so that we can buy, consume, be comfortable and have more? Why is my daughter so “blessed” and other children are not? I think the answer to this goes back to this “fruit” Jesus speaks of God’s economy is one of multiplication—and those of us with “much” are an essential part of that equation. How can we call this life we live a blessing if we aren’t willing to share it or give it away? It seems to me we are just being selfish with our abundance of “fruit” when we hold onto it with a tight grasp. When we give just a little of our fruit, God multiplies it ten-fold. Multiplying in God’s kingdom can stretch us and requires sacrifices for sure, but as I saw in Nicaragua and the changed lives of children there, this is exactly what the Lord is asking of His followers with much fruit.