In the summer of 2015, a school bus stuffed with young fruit trees made its way down a Nicaraguan highway. By the end of the day, these saplings had been gifted to local families, planted, and prayed over by the youth group of Shiloh Mennonite Church. They didn’t know if then, but these teens had planted the first seeds of Rosedale Business Group (RBG)’s annual Christmas Giving Brochure.
A short time later, Shiloh member Wayne Yoder approached Andrew, former RI Director of Partner Development. “He said, ‘All these other brochures go around at Christmas time. I would love to see something from the [Rosedale Network] constituency,’” remembered Larry and Dot, RBG Directors. “Andrew said, ‘let’s do it—but let’s start with Shiloh, and see how it goes.’ Shiloh’s response was incredible, so we started growing it from there.”
Since 2017, over 2,500 fruit trees have blessed Nicaraguan families and are beginning to bear an abundant harvest of lemons, oranges, and avocados—a consistent source of nutrition and potential source of income. Thousands of school kits provide essential classroom supplies to children in Nicaragua, Spain, and Thailand who could not go to school without them. Scholarships enable adult believers to attend leadership training programs and Bible school. RBG’s Christmas Giving Brochure has grown to become a network-wide publication, featuring projects that impact communities where RI workers currently serve or have served in the past.
RBG’s Christmas Giving Brochure has grown to become a network-wide publication, featuring projects that impact communities where RI workers currently serve or have served in the past.
It’s no secret that organizations lean into the holiday season when asking for donations. Already, a crowd of ministries is lobbying for our end-of-the-year empathy, attention, and money. When we are offered a myriad of good causes to support, why choose Rosedale Business Group’s Christmas projects? When asked this question, Larry and Dot did not hesitate to answer—and their words were full of excitement about RBG and their model of support.
Perhaps the most meaningful aspect of RBG’s Christmas projects is the relational connection between the giver and recipient. Each project, from fruit trees in Nicaragua to sewing machines in Asia, directly benefits the spiritual generations born from RI’s work overseas. “The gift actually reaches people who are connected to the RI family,” Dot emphasized. “It’s like the Rosedale Network blessing our own family, our own people.”
But RBG’s care for our communities extends further than “visiting family” once a year to hand out Christmas gifts. They carefully steward each project’s funds and focus on empowering local churches to serve their neighbors.
RBG is intentional about empowering local churches to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.
The school kit project is an excellent example of this model. Rather than purchasing notebooks, pencils, and other classroom essentials in the States and shipping these items overseas, RBG simply transfers funds to Lois, the project’s point person in Nicaragua. Lois then buys supplies directly from merchants in her community—boosting the local economy, eliminating the cost of shipping, and ensuring that the kits will reach their destination, rather than getting caught in customs or rerouted to a market and sold at a profit. In addition, Lois provides temporary income for several other women who assemble and distribute the kits.
No matter the project, RBG is intentional about empowering local churches to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their community. This manifestation of the gospel “reaches out to those who might not be in a church,” observes Larry. “It becomes a way for the church to bless those around them.” The unique “familial” connection with these communities is what allows this, says Dot. “We give [the funds] to people RI is connected to, and in turn, those people give them to somebody else. It’s the thread that follows through.” The result is an economic and spiritual impact that radiates far beyond the Rosedale Network family.