Local journalist authors book on Rainbow NetworkBy: Fr. Mark G. Boyer Springfield MO
Over the Rainbow: How God’s Rainbow Promise is Being Fulfilled in Rural Nicaragua—The Rainbow Network Story
By Linda Leicht
Bolivar, MO: Quite Waters Publications, 2017
Anyone who has read local Springfield newspaper and magazine publications is familiar with reporter Linda Leicht, who recently released her first book: Over the Rainbow: How God’s Rainbow Promise is Being Fulfilled in Rural Nicaragua—The Rainbow Network Story (Bolivar, MO: Quite Waters Publications, 2017, $17.95). Leicht has also written for The Mirror.
In this 158-page work, Leicht, an award-winning newspaper and magazine journalist, traces the history of Rainbow Network, an organization whose headquarters is located in Springfield, MO.
As Leicht narrates, the Rainbow Network, founded by Keith and Karen Jaspers in 1995, assists the people of rural Nicaragua. Rainbow refers to God’s promises in the Book of Genesis, and Network refers to the connection that exists between people in Nicaragua and the US: recipients and donors.
Based on the Habitat for Humanity model, the Rainbow Network is not a charity organization, which is usually thought of as offering handouts. This organization helps Nicaraguans participate in their communities by building houses, offering opportunities for education, providing health care, and more. However, Nicaraguans must help build the houses and repay the loans they take to own them. While scholarships are often provided for high school and college education, those participating are expected to make some return to the community. Health care is not free; a small payment based on ability to offset cost is required. This process engenders ownership. The Rainbow Network empowers Nicaraguans to lead themselves out of their mud and plastic huts, out of ignorance, out of hunger, and out of poverty.
In the book, Leicht mentions the contributions of several Springfield churches: Wesley United Methodist, National Avenue Christian, Schweitzer United Methodist, and St. Peter Evangelical United Church of Christ in Billings. Members of these faith communities should be proud of the work going on in Nicaragua as a result of their investments in the lives of real people.
Rainbow Network changes lives permanently and forever, according to Leicht. Since it began, Rainbow Network has built 1,000 homes, loaned thousands of dollars for the startup of small businesses—most of which has been repaid with interest—sponsored high school programs, opened clinics, and more. With the assistance of Rainbow Network, people work their way out of poverty because the organization gives them the tools they need to change their lives. In her book, Leicht illuminates the successes of hundreds of individual Nicaraguans who have benefited from their participation in Rainbow Network.
Using engaging prose, Leicht tells the interesting Rainbow Network story. “How God’s Rainbow Promise is Being Fulfilled in Rural Nicaragua,” the book’s subtitle, accurately describes the stories of Rainbow Network’s successes in the Central American country located between Honduras and Coast Rica. The book can be purchased through Rainbow Network at www.RainbowNetwork.org, (417) 889-8088, or writing to: The Rainbow Network, 2840 E. Chestnut Expressway, Suite A, Springfield, MO 65802. Each short, three- to four-page chapter features Nicaraguans who have participated in Rainbow Network, a few facts about the organization, photos, and a “Something to Think About” section with a biblical reference and discussion/reflection questions.