Archive for March, 2010

Refuge from the Storm

Posted: March 19, 2010 in 1

Chi-chi, Brian, and Amanda in "El Refugio"

We are excited to announce that we are the new overseers of the newly constructed Men’s Center for the homeless!

El Refugio (translates to “The Refuge”) is a homeless shelter for the men of Alajuelita.  It is a small facility with 12 bunks, a bathroom, and a single shower for the men to use.  Each man is given a small locker and lock that they can store the toiletries, towels, and other items that they may own.  We open the doors for them at 7pm and close them at 9.  During this time the men get to take their showers, shave, or relax on their bed (which they were unable to do before).  When they wake up in the morning, they help clean up the place before they leave and we serve them some coffee and bread.

Talking with the tables before the message and food

All of these men attend the Feeding Center on Mon, Weds, and Fri for lunch and receive a brief message from Pastor Jorge before food is served.  For most of these men, this is the only church they will attend.  I don’t believe that “going to church” is what causes drastic transformations in people’s lives. God’s word and God alone causes transformations.  And that is what hurting people need most; God.  Our goal is to help put these hurting men in a place where they can experience God in a practical and powerful way.  We hold bi-daily bible studies as a group discussion to help encourage, edify, and spiritually mature the guys.

Here in Alajuelita, there are TONS of homeless men living on the streets. Unfortunately, we have only limited space to lend a hand to those who want it.   After praying, we decided to permit 4 men into El Refugio.  As time goes on we will gradually add to the number as God brings the men across our path that He wants in there.

Two days ago Amanda, myself, and Chi-chi (the director who lives at and works the shelter) started looking for the 4 men that we felt would be good candidates for the center.  We comprised a list of 8 people that we felt would appreciate and take advantage of this opportunity.  Of course, 8 people is a lot more than the 4 we felt was our “starting number.”  This was an excellent teaching tool however, because when Chichi approached us in slight panic about what to do now.  We were able to take the list of names, pray over them and allow God to guide us in the direction that He wanted us to go in.

We received definite answers on the first 3 men to be received (the fourth will be coming soon).  We filled out short applications and went over the rules and guidelines with each of the men.  When we explained to the oldest guy (age 64) that he would have a bed to sleep in and a razor, he burst into tears and began hugging Chichi out of thanks and awe.  All he could say was that “he wanted to change, he wanted to change” and then he lifted his hands and started thanking God while crying.  It was amazing to see this man so overwhelmed that someone would love him like this! And, what’s better, he knew that God was rolling up His sleeves and working in his life!

Chi-chi, the three residents, Brian, and Amanda

Two days ago was also our first night in the center with our 3 new residents.  The look of appreciation and hope that they carry on their faces is priceless!  They still walk the same streets they walked before, but now they hold their heads up higher because they are beginning to see their self worth and their worth in God!

We are so honored that God would use us in this way for His kingdom!!

Thomas and Ali sitting on their new beds

Thomas and Ali sitting on their new beds

Praying for two drug addicted women at the feeding center

Guns a blazin’!

Posted: March 4, 2010 in 2010

We have safely returned from the states back to Costa Rica!  Our visit to the states was refreshing for Amanda and I.  We had a lot of opportunities to visit with our family and friends and we got to meet some amazing new people as well!  We can’t help but to feel incredibly blessed to have such an awesome support base behind us encouraging and praying for us!  It felt so good to fellowship and to be encouraged by so many of the people who have been praying and supporting us the past year!  We left the states super fired up, refreshed, and ready for battle!

We have only been back in Costa Rica for about a week and we have already been very busy.  Two days after returning here, we began working alongside 6:8 Ministries. We had a team come down from Jacksonville, FL  to serve the people of Alajuelita, Costa Rica for the past week.

As of right now, Amanda and I live outside of Alajuelita.  We have to catch two buses (about a 45 min-1 hour commute) to get to the team house.  Our mornings start about 6am and we don’t usually get home until about 9pm.  Luckily for us, we can get a ride back home at night so we don’t have to do the bus commute to get back home!

We are looking for a place to live within Alajuelita.  Hopefully within a month we’ll be in our own place within the neighborhood we’ll be serving in!  Please be praying that we’ll find an incredible deal on a great place to live that is secure and safe!  Also, there is a good chance we’ll need to furnish the place we’ll be living as well.  Please pray that we’ll get all the furniture and appliances that we need to live!

This has been our first experience helping lead a team with 6:8.

Every team will have different outreaches that they will serve the community with depending on the group’s talents, gifting, and passions.

Teaching english at an elementary school outreach

With this particular group, we accomplished a lot within the lives of: one hurting family, about 80-100 kids at an extremely poor school, and a group of cast away homeless.

Just weeks ago, an 8 year old little girl was raped by her uncle who lives next door to them.  When the uncle gets tried, he will be going to jail for some time.  The hard part is that he won’t be getting his trial for another year.

8 year old Maria Abigail

There was a lot of damage done as a result of this horrible act and seeing the man every day who did such a thing would only hurt the healing process.  God laid it on 6:8’s heart to get this family away from this environment until the uncle gets his conviction so that the healing process may begin.

We found another home for the family to live in, painted the walls, cleaned the house, and helped load all of the family’s possessions on a truck and moved the family into their new home away from their uncle.

Even though this new home wouldn’t be considered “nice” if it were in the states, the family was ecstatic that God would help them like this!

The home that we moved Maria Abigail's family out of

Maria Abigail's family in their new home

The kids in their new room

Every Mon, Weds, and Fri, there is a feeding program that serves food to the homeless of Alajuelita.  The message of Jesus Christ is always given before the food is served.  After the message we then have the opportunity to serve the plates and drinks to the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes, and hungry families that come into the center for food.

Serving food at the Feeding Center

These people are pushed aside and ignored in the streets by the community they live in.  Its amazing to see their faces light up when we serve them the food and sit right next to them.  These people are despised everywhere they go, but we don’t judge them, we don’t tell them they’re disgusting, we’re not afraid to shake their hands or hug their necks like everyone else, we just love them.   Just like Jesus would.  As a result, we see God ministering to and transforming the lives of the ones who come into the shelter for help.

When Amanda and I left for the states back in Dec., 6:8 just purchased a small, single room building to be used as a men’s center.  Its called “El Refugio,” which means “The Refuge.”

When we left, this building was nothing except bare floors and the four walls.  The teams had been working on it and now there is divider walls and bunks for the men to sleep on as well as lockers for the men to leave their possessions in.  I was shocked that so much was accomplished in the short time we were gone!

This particular team we worked with got to paint the men’s center with various scriptures on the walls to prepare the center for it’s first inhabitant.

Painting scriptures on the walls of the Men's Center

While the men were painting the men’s center, the women of the group went to the women’s center to minister to the ladies therein.

A message was given to the women about serving God by serving others.  After the message, they put into practice what God was showing them and they began to create the materials needed for another group of women to use as a means of generating income. Please note, the women in the women’s center also have no source of income.

Women's Center craft lesson

The fact that they sacrificed their time and efforts for something that they won’t see the benefits from was an awesome testimony that God is growing and transforming their hearts to serve Him more!!

After the Men and Women’s Centers, we took the team on a Prayer Walk to the neighborhood where “Chi-chi” lives. Chi-chi is a local tico (Costa Rican) who loves God and will be running the Men’s Center when all the preparations are complete.

We first took the team down to Chi-chi’s house to let them see where he lives.  Chi-chi has 7 brothers and sisters, his mom, dad, and grandma living with him.  Once arriving, Chi-chi tells us that his mom was in the hospital because she has bladder stones as well as an inflamed colon. Normally, the mom is very apprehensive about the gospel and prayer.  However, this time she willingly came forward to receive prayer.  I believe this is the kind of faith God looks for to heal someone.

As soon as we left Chi-chi’s house a family told us of a little girl that got her foot run over by a car and they suggested that we should go pray for her.  Immediately after hearing this, the director of 6:8 flags us down saying that there was a mom chasing us down with a girl in a wheelchair that got hit by a car wanting prayer!  What confirmation!

We took the team to find the girl in the wheelchair and we found her at her house sitting in her chair with a cast on her arm and 6-9 metal pins in her lower leg.  The mother came with two of her other children.  One of the other children was limping as they came out to greet us.  She had sprained her ankle earlier and it was swollen to the size of a baseball.

We got the opportunity to pray for them both and to let God work powerfully on their behalf.  We didn’t see any immediate results, but I don’t think we have to see the result right away for God to do His miracle!  Our job is to simply believe that God is working whether we see it or not!

At the end of the day a time of praise and worship and a message is given to the teams.  Spencer had asked me to speak on one of the nights and I excitedly said sure!

God had been showing Amanda and I the importance of our relationship with Him above all the other things that we could do here on this earth.  That was the message God gave me to share with this group.

So now the week is over and we’re tired from the 12 hour work days.  But the amazing thing is that we have never been so pumped and excited about what God has called us to do!!  We’re looking forward for the next team to come down and to see how God plans on moving throughout that week!!

All of this was accomplished through the help of a single team.  We will be serving with many more teams like this one throughout this next year, and as a result, the people of Alajuelita will be getting to see God in practical ways every day!  We’re excited to see what God will be doing through the future teams!