About 3 blocks away from our main team house in Alajuelita is a place called “the cafetal” (means coffee plantation). About 60-70 years ago it used to be a field lined with coffee plants with the purpose of making a living and supporting Costa Rica’s prime export. Since then, the plants have long died and the field was abandoned.
Now the field is overflowing with garbage and it is common knowledge that the cafetal is a place of evil. Within the rows of dead coffee plants and garbage, people are living in here. Some have constructed makeshift living areas, while others unfold old cardboard boxes so they don’t have to sleep on the dirt. Drugs and alcohol run rampant through here and this is a very common place to use.
Unfortunately, crack is one of the most used drugs within Alajuelita. It is dirt cheap, easy to come by, highly addictive, and runs about $1 a rock here. Prostitution is another common evil practiced in the cafetal. Starting as early as age 11, it is not uncommon to see girls enter and leave the cafetal at all times of the day with random partners.
It is heartbreaking to hear of stuff like this. It is even more devastating when it happens just minutes from your house. You can’t help but to feel helpless because there isn’t much that we can do. What do you do with a situation like this? What can you do? Pray.
Close to 98% of the short-term mission groups that come down here go on prayer walks. We walk, we pray, and God always brings somebody or some family across our path that needs a miracle. One stop that we almost always make on our prayer walks is the cafetal. We explain the evil and the injustice that happens on a daily basis and then saturate the place with prayer for change of hearts and revelations. As long as Amanda and I have been on staff at 6:8 (about 2 ½ years now) we have been bringing teams to pray over this area.
Local pastor, Pastor Miguel, was talking of an experience yesterday. He said that a big, angry man came into one of the feeding centers wanting food. Before food is served, we will have a short time of worship and a brief message. When we started sharing the message before the meal, this guy stood up angrily and said, “I don’t care! I don’t believe in God! Just give me my food!” Pastor Miguel said, “That’s okay, you’ll see and meet God, then you’ll believe.” The message continued, the food was served, and once the angry guy finished his meal, he left as quickly as he could without thanking anybody.
About 3 weeks past and the same guy came back into the feeding center for a meal. Pastor Miguel was already preparing for another confrontation with this man. During the worship, the angy guy was raising his hands in praise. Tears were trickling down his cheeks. After the message was given, they were about to pray over the meal when the man stood up again and demanded, “I’ll pray over it!” Confused, Pastor Miguel consented. The meal was served, everybody ate, and right before the man left Pastor Miguel asked him for a quick conversation. “What happened to you?” was the opening to this conversation. The angry guy smiled and said told how he was in the middle of the cafetal getting high and God came to him. He realized that God was in fact real and that something in his life needed to change!
Hearing this touched us so powerfully. Sometimes it feels like we just pray because “we’re supposed to.” It is awesome to hear stories like this to remind us that prayer is effective and that God still works! I can’t help but to wonder how many other lives may have been changed but we have never heard the testimony….