In the famous Good Samaritan parable, we read a story about a man who is attacked, robbed and left for dead along the roadside. Two religious men pass by and overtly ignore the dying man, going out of their way to avoid him.
A third man comes along (the Samaritan man) and has compassion on the man, putting him on his donkey and taking him to a local inn where he cares for him. The next day, needing to continue on his journey, the Samaritan man leaves the innkeeper with a little bit of money and asks him to continue caring for the man. He even goes as far as telling the innkeeper that he’ll be back sometime in the near future and if there are any additional costs, he’ll reimburse him for those as well.
In fact, Jesus uses the example of the Samaritan man to answer the question “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ answer that you must love your neighbor as yourself leads to the next question which is “and who is my neighbor?” Through this parable, we gain a new understanding of what it means to “love our neighbors”.
It’s broader and more intentional than most are willing to be and requires having compassion on others we cross paths with along our journey.
The work we do in Masatepe puts us in a very similar role as the Samaritan. In fact, daily we find ourselves confronted with hurting people who have become invisible and ignored by the locals (as is common anywhere in the world). It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed by all there is to do and by all of the people in need, and simply do nothing.
Like the two religious men in the Good Samaritan parable likely did, it’s easy to justify inaction and move away from the hurting individual. But this is where the depth of the Good Samaritan parable really shines through. Jesus provided both a model and a “hidden hero” in the story. The Samaritan man, as much as he really is the hero of the story, was only able to do something in the short term while passing through. The longer term care that the hurting man needed had to be provided by a local caregiver, the innkeeper.
The Samaritan’s role in the story was to have compassion, come alongside the man, take him to a place where he could receive care, and help cover the costs associated with the care. The inn is a local resource that can take it from there.
We don’t need to know how to care for everyone’s needs ourselves, but we do need to recognize that others are available to provide that care, and then we need to take action to allow that care to be provided.
This parable embodies our entire approach towards integrated community transformation in Masatepe. We have identified a list of “innkeepers” who each minister to their community in a unique way, and we do our best to empower them and walk alongside them.
We realized there was one area in which there were many hurting people, but no inn to take them to, which is the area of drug and alcohol addiction. A drive across the city on any night of the week in Masatepe reveals a deep and dark problem of addiction that is tearing apart families and ruining lives. For many reasons, ranging from joblessness to mental illness or utter hopelessness, a high rate of men use drugs and alcohol to simply numb the pain. As you drive through Masatepe and see street corners laden with men passed out or begging for their next hit, it’s hard not to think of the Good Samaritan parable and wonder what it is that could be done to help your neighbors.
In late 2015, a group of pastors in Masatepe brought a project to our attention that we had previously not known anything about. It was a 7-acre farm on the edge of town that had once been an addiction recovery center run by a foreign non-profit out of Spain. The farm was set up to host 20-30 men at a time, while being sustained by the farm itself. There was an investment made in agriculture and livestock that would both feed the men in the program as well as provide funds to sustain the costs. However, just a few years after the program was started, the nonprofit relocated to another part of the country and the farm in Masatepe was sold off to a local landowner for personal use.
The pastors brought this project to our attention because they had recently found out that the landowner had become ill in his old age and was planning to sell the farm. They aspired to see the rehab program restored to it’s original intent, but lacked the ability to fund the purchase of the land. Their appeal to International Teams was that if we could find a way to secure the land, they could mobilize people and resources from within their congregations to get the program up and running, which had long been a dream of theirs. We agreed to their proposal but were unsure of where those funds would come from. We began to promote the project to our network and by late 2016 we were able to purchase the farm.
We decided to name the farm Luke’s Inn in honor of the Good Samaritan parable and what it represents in this case for Masatepe. We aspire for the farm to be a place where people can be neighborly to the hurting men in their community and can bring them to the “inn” for the longer-term care they need.
Dealing with addiction is very complex and our hope is that, alongside the local churches of our community, we can provide this care and allow others to not have to think too much about reaching out and helping someone they have compassion on. They will now have the option to bring them to the local inn.
The farm itself is being operated as a sustainable business with several income streams. We currently have three segments of farming.
Pigs - We rear piglets to market-weight and sell them locally. We currently have capacity for 60 pigs on the farm.
Egg laying hens - We have a program that we refer to as One Egg, in partnership with OneEgg.org. This program allows us to donate 10% of our egg production to local preschools, getting vital proteins to children in a very formative stage of brain development in their lives. We currently sponsor 252 children in Masatepe with an egg a day, which amounts to over 50,000 eggs a year going directly to kids ages 3-5 years old. Our current setup has capacity for 1000 chickens, but we have plans to expand as finances allow.
Agriculture - Our farm is diversified in almost every way possible. We have fruits and vegetables planted throughout the 7 acres that produce year long. These include avocados, citrus, bananas, plantains, cocoa, coffee, coconut, corn, beans, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, pineapple, dragonfruit, paprika, and many other local varieties of fruits and veggies. It’s a truly lush and diverse ‘garden’ that serves as a beautiful backdrop to the program that will be hosted there.
We currently have 4 men working full time on the farm itself, along with a few season workers depending on what’s being harvested. We also have one volunteer helping us on the farm who was recently freed from the bondage of addiction himself. We are in the process now of forming a board of directors for the program that will consist of pastors from the community as well as a few staff members from International Teams.
Our goal is to launch the beginning phase of the rehab program in 2018. There is so much that still needs to be done to get ready for that first phase. We need to renovate an existing building that will serve as the hosting facility for the men that live on site. We need to recruit volunteers to walk alongside the men in the program locally. We need to raise funds and sponsorships for the men that come through the program as well build out the farm and strive for sustainability. We need to gain government approval to open the center and we need to network with professionals who can provide services such as medical and psychological treatment. We need to design the program itself which is a complex process. At this point, we are looking for folks who desire to come alongside the project out of passion for this ministry and/or past experience (firsthand or not). As we build out our leadership team to oversee this project, we need as much help as we can get so we can learn together.