Below are some thoughts from our founder Clark Massey. They were included in the most recent newsletter announcing our foreign mission.
Dear Simple House Supporters and Donors,
A Simple House is expanding to Nicaragua! The first Simple House opened in 2003, and the second house opened in 2009. When the chance to start a foreign mission presented itself, we were shocked and excited.
I have known the Eckstine family for six years. Our paths have crossed multiple times while they served as foreign missionaries, and I have worked with Mark on construction projects in the states. In 2015, they came to KC, and we started talking about a new way to approach foreign mission work.
Foreign missions are often too short, and they can be caught up in the idea of direct witness as the focal point. We believe that the best evangelization is through friendship and solidarity. It is impossible to sit across from someone and work a conversion on them. But… if you love, accompany, and help someone, there are many opportunities to share the joy, hope, and love that is the gospel.
Our goal is to create opportunity while spreading the gospel through friendship evangelization. For many people in Nicaragua, the only clear opportunity is immigration to the US. This immigration destroys marriages and communities. We hope to create more opportunities for the poor in Nicaragua.
We plan to bring the Simple House model outside of the American inner city with one major change. The foreign mission will do development work with the spiritual works of mercy. The goal is to unite the “development works of mercy” with the spiritual works of mercy.
Love is the greatest agent of human development, and this love must be true love. True love requires justice, respect, and dignity. True love motivates people to share spiritual truths while working towards a better world. Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have called for a Catholic development model. Current development projects often hurt the communities they propose to help by only focusing on economic growth. This is the message of Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate and Pope Francis’ Laudato Si.
This mission answers this call and addresses a problem within the Church. The mission will help the Church re-imagine evangelization away from one-shot ministry and proselytizing, and it will help society re-imagine development work away from mere economic growth. The mission will be part of the new evangelization and pioneer a truly human and Catholic development model.
Mark Eckstine and I visited Latin America and set out on a 1000-mile road trip to explore possibilities. We visited towns, interviewed locals, interviewed missionaries, and prayerfully brainstormed the mission. Four things jumped out at us during the trip:
1. Deforestation is dramatic, and the process of reforestation has barely begun.
2. Honey production was once a big part of the economy, but it has been decimated by killer bees.
3. Independent farmers have a problem getting their goods to market, and food is wasted because of logistical problems.
4. There is a housing crisis where multiple families live together in small houses. The individual families may have enough income to finance another house, but developers, attorneys, and banks don’t find it worthwhile to work on such small-scale projects.
During the first year, the mission will explore these ideas, and it may start small projects related to the best ideas. A priest summed up his management philosophy as “push what moves.” If any of these small projects gain momentum, we will write a business plan and propose ramping up the mission.
The Eckstines are ideal to start this mission because of their sincere call and years of experience. Mark’s work experience should benefit the new mission. He worked as a finish carpenter and homebuilder before going into missionary work, and he has experience with honeybees and the timber industry.
Thank you for making A Simple House possible.