CANTON - Six years ago, Glen and Jana Kauffman did not imagine selling their home to move to Nicaragua. Yet that is what will happen to them in the next month so they can fulfill God's call to help others there.
"We fell in love with it," Jana said. "That's how we got started. We fell in love with the people."
The Kauffmans originally went to Nicaragua on a week-long mission trip with New Life Church to help with House of Hope Nicaragua. The ministry is a refuge for getting young girls off the streets as prostitutes and helping them support their families.
Glen and Jana Kauffman
"We felt a call to go further with the ladies," Glen said.
After seeing the good that House of Hope does, the Kauffmans wanted to do more with the people in the community, so they started their own mission - New Day Ministry.
They will work to help women get out of the cycle of prostitution that often becomes them. Women have children out of prostitution, sometimes more than they can afford, and those children have to drop out of school to help support the family by the only way they know how and on it continues.
NAME: Glen and Jana Kauffman
HOME CHURCH: New Life Church, Canton
HIGH SCHOOL: Canton Area School District
COLLEGE: Penn State University for freshman year, Williamsport Area Community College and beauty school in Williamsport
SENDING ORGANIZATION: New Life Church, Canton
START DATE: July
"There's no birth control," Jana said. "They don't watch TV. The kids end up not going to school. If they can get through sixth grade, they're doing great."
The Kauffmans will help the women find their God-given talents and give them vocational training, whether it be teaching, sewing, jewelry making or hairdressing.
"It's getting established as a family," Glen said. "How to take care of the house and their children. There's so much we take for granted."
The women will be housed in a secure building where they can receive training and be taught the basic skills they need to survive. Nicaragua is the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and thievery can be a problem.
"We have stuff," Glen said. "They want stuff. Tools, things we use to help the community, they'll steal them from you if they can."
However, once a relationship is built with the people, that changes.
"Once you build a relationship and trust, you can leave them out and they'll bring it back," Jana said.
By housing the young mothers in crisis situations and changing their lives, they can help future generations so that their children will not have to prostitute themselves or steal.
In addition to helping the women, when the Kauffmans fly back to Nicaragua July 12 they also will help a larger part of the community.
"Last year we got into the community," Jana said. "We saw more life in Nicaragua. It's what drives us to go deeper."
They met with the pastor of the community on a previous trip and asked what he needed them to do without them taking over his position. He wanted help with water and taking care of the widows.
A disease is killing the men of the country and the cause is unknown. It could be too much calcium in the water or something else entirely. Whatever is killing the men is somehow related to their kidneys.
"We want to help figure out what's making the men sick," Jana said. "I hope a doctor reads this and says they want to come."
Because the men are dying, they leave behind widows who cannot always take care of themselves. They met a 103-year-old widow who made food for the community even though her roof leaked. The team
(From Page B-1)
that was with them repaired her roof.
The Kauffmans also have been helping school children by getting sponsors for them so they can afford to go to school. For $25 a month, children are provided the mandatory school uniform, a backpack and their materials for a year. Without the uniform, they cannot go to school.
They provide food in the community served at the church for all of the kids and their families.
"Education is great," Jana said. "A full belly is great. The ultimate goal is to get them introduced to Christ and get them into church."
The only experience the Kauffmans had before going on missionary trips to Nicaragua was serving as youth pastors for more than a decade. They also were involved in the community, but it did not prepare them for seeing how other people live.
"They're living in a third world, developing country," Glen said. "We have so much. It's hard to see."
But seeing the young people turn their lives around and get educations is the best part for Jana.
They are trying to encourage mission teams to visit Nicaragua and use their talents, whether to help educate the women with a skill or do repairs that people need.
"It'll change your life," Glen said. "It did for us."
How long the team visits depends on how long the team wants to stay. Three teams already are scheduled to visit next year to help the Kauffmans with their mission.
The name New Day Missions refers to taking life one day at a time in everything they do.
One of the ways Jana inspires hope in the women she works with is by singing "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie.
"It's only a day away," she said. "It's not a hymn. It just happened one day. It is what it is. Tomorrow is a new day."
Since she is working on improving her Spanish, she also has been teaching herself how to sing the show tune in Spanish.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Home-Grown Missions profiles missionaries, both full- and part-time, who grew up in area churches. As part of an on-going series, letters home from those serving on the mission field occasionally also will be published.)