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.
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!
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!!