After a trip to Chinandega, Nicaragua, in 1997, youth leader John Bland returned to his community at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Buford, GA with videos of the poverty he had witnessed and a vision to put together a service project for the spring of 1999. Moved to action, youth group members Sarah Bollinger and Jessica Keifer led a series of fundraisers and earned enough money to build a small cafeteria in one of the local communities.
However, before the trip could take place, Hurricane Mitch struck Nicaragua in October of 1998, causing mudslides on Las Casitas volcano that destroyed surrounding farming villages, killing 3,000 people and displacing hundreds of families in Chinandega.
In the wake of Hurricane Mitch, the Prince of Peace group arrived in Nicaragua in April of 1999 and spent a week working on a housing project to alleviate the suffering of families affected by the hurricane. During their trip, the grim reality and enormous need deeply affected the group and they were determined to continue their efforts.
Amigos for Christ was formed as an independent 501c(3) charity in June of 1999 with John Bland as Executive Director, the late Jack Schiveree as Board President, and a guiding mission to serve the Lord by serving His poor.
Since then, Amigos has grown into an interdenominational community development ministry that has provided several million dollars in aid to the poor and is committed to creating opportunities for communities and families to flourish.
We believe transformative-life-change occurs through a combination of making opportunity accessible and reducing preventable obstacles to growth, all within the context of intentional, long-term relationships with an emphasis on community leadership. In recent years, we have narrowed our focus to achieving five measurable goals over the course of seven years – a process we call our 7 Year Vision – in every community where we work. Each of these goals has been identified through our decades of experience working in rural Nicaragua, developed in collaboration with a diverse staff of American and Nicaraguan employees as well as the relevant branch of the Nicaraguan government, and designed to be measurable in order to evaluate the effectiveness and ensure success.
In addition, we are joined by thousands of partners who travel to Nicaragua on mission trips every year to support these projects as well as countless generous donors and volunteers. Together, we are able live out our faith by making Christ more visible to one another and to our brothers and sisters across Nicaragua.