The ministry of Casa Bernabé—Puerto Cabezas began in 1986 with children in desperate need. In a gesture of pure compassion, Julio Rappa (shown at left) rescued three abandoned girls from the streets of Puerto Cabezas, an eastern coastal village of 60,000 in Nicaragua.
After a series of moves over the years to accommodate its growing adoption of displaced children, Casa Bernabé settled in its current campus in 1998 under the leadership of Pastor Earl Bowie and his wife, Damaris (with continuing involvement from Julio). The devastation wrought by Hurricane Felix in 2007 threatened the survival of Casa Bernabé and indeed the entire village of Puerto Cabezas. In compassionate response to the ravages of the storm, Americans came together with local leaders to rebuild the orphanage and the neighboring Verbo Church (built in 1998) and Verbo Christian School (built in 2000).
- Girls Dorm: completed in 2012 for ages 3-21
- Dining Hall and Commercial Kitchen: completed in 2013
- Boys Dorm: completed in 2014 for ages 2-10
- Basketball Court with nighttime lighting and bleachers: completed in 2015
- Teen Boys Dorm: completed in 2016 for ages 11–21
- Perimeter Fence: built over three years to protect the entire campus
Campus buildings were constructed to withstand hurricane force, which was thoroughly tested by the double hurricanes Eta and Iota in November 2020 (see Hurricane 2020 Relief page).
Its 12 acres protects and educates 100 children and youth who would otherwise be living in impoverished and dangerous living conditions. They come to this safe haven through a variety of situations: some have been orphaned; some were displaced by families who could no longer feed them; others came for a quality education. At Casa Bernabé, children and youth are fed, clothed and educated. Most of all, they are loved and taught that perfect love is only from God as demonstrated through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Upon graduation, youth go on to college or begin work in professional practices or trades where they can provide for themselves and make a positive contribution to the community.
(Casa Bernabé is named for the apostle Barnabas, characterized in Scripture by his integrity, encouraging spirit and generosity.)