Hope Breaking through in The Quarry in Bluefields, Nicaragua

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

“The Quarry”. The name is both descriptive and deceptive. The Quarry, as its name suggests, is a place in which rock harvested from the ground, broken into pieces, and sold for construction material. However, this quarry located in Bluefields, Nicaragua is nothing like the quarries I have grown up driving by in Maryland.

Instead of deep holes dug with large equipment in search of rock deep beneath the earth, rock is strip mined by hand from the surface of the hill by squatters. Rock is then broken by hand with small hammers to sell to builders. It is dangerous and exhausting work for minimal return. Sadly, children are often engaged in the work alongside their parents to help their families survive. This means they may or may not go to school, limiting their ability to escape life in the quarry.

The Quarry in Bluefields, Nicaragua

The families who work in the quarry often live next to the slowly disappearing hill in makeshift shacks built from plastic, tin, and whatever other materials they can find. While it allows them easy access to their means of survival, it also puts them and their homes at risk of being harmed or destroyed by mud slides from the strip mining.

As you can imagine a feeling of hopelessness permeates the quarry. Breaking rocks in the quarry allows the families to survive, but never move beyond that point. It is as if they are trapped. If they do not break rocks all day, every day they will not be able to eat. However, if they continue to break rocks all day, every day they will never move beyond surviving to reach some level of thriving. This is especially sad for children who have their whole life ahead of them.

This is the power of the Lie of Hopelessness. It creates a sense of “stuck-ness”. A sense that someone is destined for a life of “less than”. If you believe you are hopeless, the battle to just survive today becomes the dominant theme of your life. If hopelessness is all you see, why would you believe otherwise? I am sure I would be in the same spot if our roles were reversed.

I have visited the quarry a number of times, including on my most recent trip to Bluefields, Nicaragua in April of 2022. It would be easy to write off the people living and working in the quarry as an outsider—many do—but not Pastor Ed Jaentschke. The pastor of the Verbo Church in Bluefields, Ed sees hope where others only see hopelessness. Visiting the quarry often, Ed takes the time to invest in the lives of these overlooked people, demonstrating that they do matter. By encouraging them, praying with them, and assisting with their physical needs, Ed provides a powerful picture of spiritual and practical hope to the people of the quarry.

One of the powerful ways Ed and his church make a difference in the quarry is by opening the door for the children of the families to attend school at the Verbo School in Bluefields, one of the best schools in the area. By covering their tuition and other educational expenses, Ed opens a door to a significant source of practical hope for the children. Beyond the education itself, the investment made by Ed and his church shows the children that they are worth it and not destined for hopelessness. It is a tangible way of saying we believe God created you on purpose and with a purpose.

Has it made a difference? On my recent trip to Nicaragua, Ed told me about a number of kids from the quarry who have thrived at the Bluefields Verbo School. In fact, one child from the quarry graduated from the Verbo School and is attending college in the United States. That is a far way from a life of hopelessness. Through investments of practical and spiritual hope, Ed and his church are changing lives in the quarry, opening the door to a life of thriving for the next generation.

While not all of us will have the opportunity to invest in the life of someone at the quarry in Bluefields, Nicaragua, we can each take a lesson from Ed and apply it to our community. Who in our community has been written off and is seemingly stuck in a cycle of hopelessness? How can we invest what we bring to the table to open the door for them to discover the reframed identity and real opportunity created by all-in hope? We all have what it takes to make a difference in the life of another.

Unsure how to get started? Sign up to receive free resource I created, 5 Foundational Steps to Make a True Difference in Someone’s Life, for some tips on how to take the next step. Sign up by clicking here. As Ed shows us, no one is truly hopeless.

James Belt

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