Monday, March 1, 2010

Preparing for Outreach...

I was totally inspired by the teaching and training we received this last week! Dave Swan is a British missionary who works with YWAM in South Africa. He and his wife train and help implement new ministries and projects being started around the world. Dave is highly experienced and successful at project planning and at helping groups put into action their dreams and desires. Dave does a good job of asking the hard questions that a lot of people overlook in their zeal of starting a project. With grounded questions, realistic expectations and patient encouragement, Dave helped our class brainstorm and plan our own ministry projects. Four other students and I – those of us who will be doing outreach in Jaco – spent a good part of the week planning a project to carry out during our outreach. Dave then helped us revise our plan over and over again until it seemed plausible. I’ll admit that at times I was frustrated to keep writing and re-writing our proposal, but in the process I actually learned so much about pioneering ministries and how to go about it! The value of a plan in writing was something I really took out of this week. Most new ministries fail within the first two years due to poor planning. Passion alone will not sustain a ministry or organization. God gave us brains for a reason, and I am really learning that He wants us to use those to strategically develop plans for His Kingdom – not just go out and expect to survive on our own zeal and excitement. As someone who is an optimisitc dreamer, Dave’s wisdom really gave me a good basis for ministry planning. The practical tools of writing proposals, gathering resources, communicating a mission statement, creating goals and setting timelines were so great to learn about. I feel that our group is drastically more prepared to arrive in Jaco and begin lasting and sustainable ministry there.

Before I decided to stay in Costa Rica for the next 6 months and do outreach in Jaco, I was pretty sad at the prospect of leaving this country. I am really falling in love with the people, culture, language and land! I’ve found music to be a huge blessing in relationship building and ministry here. I never would have guessed a year ago when I bought my ukulele in the mountains of Hawaii that I would be using it to meet Costa Ricans on the streets later… But God has been showing me that He works in EVERY area of my life, and never to limit Him. So a few of us have been heading downtown about once a week to play music on the streets. The results have been phenomenal. The combination of white skin, English songs and a strange tiny instrument really draws people in and as a result, I have made a lot of new friends! This past week, right as we started playing and singing, a guy came up with a guitar on his back. I asked him to join us, and we played together for over an hour. His name was Sandra, and he was a Nicaraguan immigrant with colorful vocabulary and a passion for alcohol and tobacco. The cool part is that as we played, he ended up joining us in worship! Our brief time together really meant a lot to the both of us. There is just something about playing music with others, let alone worship, that is a special and unique experience… I completely loved every second of sharing that gift with Sandra and the others downtown.

This weekend I traveled to Jaco with some others to begin to investigate the town some more, observe the nightlife and network with local churches and individuals doing ministry down there. It was encouraging to see a church body there passionate and alive for Jesus, but on the flip side was the entirely disgusting and discouraging nightlife that I am moving to Jaco to work in. As I’ve previously mentioned, Jaco is known for its beaches, drugs and sex. The beaches I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying… the drugs I have had to frequently turn down, and the sex I finally caught a glimpse of on Friday night. There are a couple known restaurants and bars in Jaco where prostitution is very heavy, and even a restaurant with a brothel above it. It broke my heart to see large groups of white men flocking the streets of Jaco, intoxicated and moving from bar to bar in search of prostitutes. Outside of one bar, every taxi driver in town was waiting to escort men who leave the bar with a prostitute on their arm. I cannot believe that these men – large groups of men of ALL ages – spend their time and money drinking and buying sex. I also couldn’t help but think that these men probably have wives, children, respectable jobs or even church communities back home. What kind of person comes all the way to Costa Rica to do these things? Do they realize the implications of their actions? Do they have any idea what sort of damage is being done to the girls every time they are bought, used and abused? It’s an emotionally daunting and exhausting situation, and I am praying hard for God’s grace in this future ministry. Please be praying with me for our team’s hearts towards these men who are broken and in need of love themselves. Please pray that the women would find hope and worth and know that they were made in the image of God and that it was never their heavenly Father’s intentions for them to be treated this way. I pray that our team can offer some truth and hope into the lives of the women working in Jaco.


California Teen Missing, Sex Offender Arrested

A 17-year-old California girl, Chelsea King, has gone missing... she was last seen on Thursday but has not yet been found. Her family is hoping to find her alive, yet a sex offender has been arrested on suspicion of rape and murder.

Please pray...

-That Chelsea is found alive and well.

-That Chelsea's family can find peace and comfort during this traumatic time.

-For all children who have gone missing around the world - for their fate, and for their families left behind.

-For the heart and mind of the arrested sex offender, John - that he would be changed and healed and he could find forgiveness for his past.


Invisible Children

Invisible Children is an awesome organization that is using film and media to spread global awareness about Africa's longest-running war in Northern Uganda. Through the support and interest they've raised in the issue, they've been able to build schools, help house, provide relief to and raise awareness for the countless Africans affected by the devastating war. Check out their website to find out more or how you can help...

The Micah Challenge

The Micah Challenge is a campaign started by Christians to hold world governments accountable to their Millennium Development Goal to halve world hunger by 2015. Their goal is to be a voice for those in poverty and hunger, and to spur governments to action on this goal. They believe it's the responsibility of the Church to advocate and seek justice for those who are unable to themselves. It's really cool to see an organization working so closely with the government to hold them accountable for their goals... I'm so happy to see the Church standing up to governments around the world and demanding the action they promised!