Friday, June 29, 2012

coffee, fire, freedom, missions, trafficking....

The past few weeks have been busy but beautiful. God has brought me to this place at the perfect time, and He is beginning to show me more and more some of the desires He has for me through the mission work in Costa Rica. I am involved with many different things here at the base (since there is SO much going on here). It's amazing to be a part of a vision that was truly birthed in the heart of God. 
The ministry with the prostitutes (the ministry in which I am working full-time) has been incredible. God has been preparing hearts; making them ready for a pure, healthy relationship with members on our team... which will hopefully lead to a freeing relationship with the Lord. Most of the women and men with whom we work are victims of exploitation... those who are not victims of human trafficking all have a very dark history. 1 in every 3 children in Costa Rica is a victim of sexual abuse. In this country with costs of glorious beaches and beauty, the deep darkness is often covered or hidden. 
On Tuesday night I went to talk to one of the women to whom I have been ministering to on the streets. She had been waiting to see me. As we talked, she suddenly changed subjects. Through a crackling voice she whispered, “these streets strip you of every bit of dignity”. She continued to pour out as I listened to both her and to the Holy Spirit, hoping he would speak into her life. As I closed my eyes to pray, He took over and spoke directly to her heart. I don’t know this woman’s entire life, but I do know that God has been pursuing her as he does with each of us. There are some nights when I am discouraged and wonder if I’m accomplishing anything ministering to and taking a ‘cup of coffee’ to these people.... and then God reminds me that I am only a part in the long process of His pursuit on their lives. 
‘A cup of coffee’. Can a cup of coffee change a life? I believe so. 

Last week there was an electrical fire at the ministry coffee house where we hold our Freedom Street Sunday church service. This happened on a Saturday night... it was evident that Satan was angry with us. Praise the Lord that we are accomplishing some kingdom work! :) We spent a lot of time cleaning and it is still not finished. But one thing is for sure; the One on our side will always be stronger than the one on the ‘other side’. God has already overcome. And no matter how dark the places are that He calls us to go into; I know that darkness always flees just ahead of the light. 
Two weeks ago I worked with a short term missions team (a youth group) that came down for a week. God did incredible things in them and through them. It was a blessing for me to have the opportunity to share God’s love and his heart for missions with people from my own nation! We went and worked at a girls home for young girls who have babies or who are pregnant. God took me there for a reason. The girls at this home (the youngest one was 10) were almost all victims of rape. Most of them had been raped while being exploited as sex slaves (prostitutes). As I held a 20 day old baby (that was born at just 6 months), I thought of what the mother of that child must feel when she looks at that beautiful baby. Imagine seeing a precious baby that is part of you... but is the fruit of violation and slavery. I so often get to see the brokenness of a life sold into human trafficking.... and this place allowed me to see the restoration that God can bring. Only through God can there be healing. Of course that healing is a long, long process.... but there is healing... 
I’m still praying about what God wants me to do with this new revelation. I am praying that my hearts desires will catch up to His hearts desires. 

                                   TRATA- the documentary 
A week from today my small team will be leaving to film the human trafficking documentary "TRATA". We know that the most powerful way to transform a nation is through media. The versatility of film serves as a powerful means to educate and expose the reality of this huge injustice that is growing not only in Costa Rica but also around the world. 

Our purpose for the film is to show the Costa Rican people these realities that they do not know exist in their neighborhoods, homes and communitities. While the film will have a North American audience, our main audience is the Costa Rican public. 

The film will be produced in both a Spanish and English version. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Called to Serve- Slavery is on God's heart

The DTS is over and I will now be working full time with ‘Freedom Street Ministry” and with “Metro Ministry” here at the YWAM San Jose, Costa Rica base. 
Freedom Street ministry in the ministry that I was involved with before outreach. This ministry works with prostitutes, victims of human trafficking and exploitation. As I have sought God's heart over the past few months, my God-given passion for children's justice has grown exponentially. Through talking with the men, women, and children who line the streets at night; I have been able to hear their cry of desperation behind the words they speak. I have seen their need for a savior... and I have felt God's heart break for these victims of slavery. 
     God has been moving in huge ways the past few months with this ministry and I am so excited to see where He will take the ministry next. God has been opening doors for the ministry to be more effective; connections with the government as well as increased interest from the prostitutes with which we work. 
With this ministry, I will be going on the ‘streets’ 3 nights a week to visit with the prostitutes and further develop relationships with them. Through these relationships, we create comfort and trust which opens the doors for them to share if they are indeed victims of exploitation. We can then work to help free these people who are basically slaves, or human trafficking victims. We also have a church service on Sundays where the prostitutes can come and hear about the biggest freedom we have to offer. This church service has truly been amazing. We have already seen men and women make decisions for Jesus and choose to change their lives. This service is an awesome opportunity to sit and share, disciple, and help these men, women, and children.
Last Sunday at this church service, God spoke so strongly about guilt an shame. This was powerful not only for the prostitutes, but also to me. It is so hard to imagine God as someone who takes away all of our guilt and offers us forgiveness; so often we limit him by human standards. 
Another part of this ministry is English classes that we offer to the prostitutes so that they can have skills to help find a new job after they are rescued. Also, on Friday nights we have a prayer vigil in front of the largest brothel in Costa Rica. Prayer is so powerful to break spiritual chains of injustice. Through prayer we can call God’s kingdom to be done here on the Earth. 
This July, Carlos and I will be traveling with Elizabeth (with Freedom Street Ministry) to make a documentary about human trafficking and exploitation. We are praying that this documentary can bring awareness and change to help end slavery. 

Saturday  Night  with Freedom Street- Short story
Driving downtown to deliver coffee to the prostitutes is always a time when my mind is running wild; praying to God and asking for His guidance. On Saturday night before going to the streets, we spent some time in prayer. Carlos prayed that God would just give us His eyes for these people, His heart for them, and His love for them. 
After talking to a couple of prostitutes who are victims of exploitation (brought here unwillingly as slaves), we got back in the car to head to our next stop. On the way, we saw a young girl (probably 17) who was dancing for a man standing on the street. We were stopped at a stop light seeing this girl through the window. My eyes began to water as I heard God say, “imagine how I feel as her father watching her do that”. My heart shattered. 
Later while talking to a beautiful young girl (probably around the same age), I felt God crying over her. This girl who was unwilling sold to be used and abused by men; feeding their lustful cravings. I only have to see these girls while they are on the streets waiting for a ‘client’; God has to be with them in those dark rooms... God is omnipresent; and I’m sure that at some times He wishes He wasn’t...

I’m not a mother yet, so I know that I can only partially begin to imagine what it must feel like to watch a child live through injustices... to go to bed at night knowing that my daughter is being abused and taken advantage of by a grown man... I’m sure one day that thought will hurt even more than it does today. 

Metro Ministry 
METRO ministry is another ministry with which I will be involved. This ministry focuses on reaching children in the ghettos of the city. These children are surrounded by drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, poverty, and gangs (among other things). These children are desperate for a positive role model. We want to offer them the opportunity to KNOW and live for God. While our goal is to reach children, this ministry also ministers to their families through discipleship and home visits. In the 2 communities we visit each week, we are reaching more than 100 kids. We are also in the process of training local churches so that they can began implementing the program around the country to reach even more kids.

Around the base
Another fun thing about living on a base with 30 other missionaries is "family contributions". On the base, we are a family. For me, it is an honor to serve my fellow missionaries in the kitchen or cleaning the base! I have also loved playing with the children at the base... these future leaders in missions bless my life each time I get to spend time with them. 

  • Prayer- Please keep me in your prayers as I follow God into dark and dangerous places. Please pray for safety and wisdom. Pray for my spiritual, physical, and emotional strength! Also for God to open doors for the victims of exploitation as we build trust with them. 
  • Financial needs- I am in need of people who feel called to missions through supporting. Please pray about becoming a monthly missions supporter and help make God's work in this ministry possible. As a YWAM missionary, I am living a 'faith-based/donation based' lifestyle!  There is an easy link to 'donate' through paypal on this blog! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ministry & goodbyes

                                                           Saying Goodbyes

As I hugged goodbye the people I have been living with the past 5 months, tears streamed down my face. It was so hard to send off the people I have come to know and love as family; serving the Lord together in missions. I have lived with these people, eaten every meal with them, walked with them in our relationship with God, supported each other in some really difficult ministries, cried together, you name it we did it. Wow, this is definitely one of hard parts of YWAM... you fall in love with a group of people that God brought together and then you have to watch them go. I continued to tell myself ‘the world needs them more than I do. The world is desperate for people like them who KNOW God personally, who are filled with hope.’ But, it still wasn’t easy to let go... I really love them.
As I sat their crying, I asked God to teach me something through this experience. I believe that God designed our lives to teach us about Him and that he is in everything... so I asked Him to reveal himself to me in the midst of this. God spoke to me about his relationship with us (believers); how deeply it breaks His heart when we stray far from Him, even for just a day. How much pain He feels when we are away even for a second because He is so desperate to have us near. Because He is omnipresent, He has to stand there and wait while watching us choose to be away from Him. His presence around us in a promise, despite our awareness of it. We just have to choose to open up and decide to live in that ‘presence’ continually. As for me, there’s no place I’d rather be.
Wow, that touched my heart and brought with it more passion for God. I want to purposefully live every moment of my life to bring a smile to His face. To let other people know Him, this God who desperately longs for a relationship with us...... 
                                                                 The past 5 Months 
The past 5 months have been the most amazing 5 months of my life; but also very touch at times. God has revealed Himself to me in such incredible ways and I daily find myself more in love with Him. It’s so addicting; the more I know the more I love Him. The ‘Discipleship Training School’ has now come to an end. The outreach in Puerto Viejo and Nicaragua were amazing. I saw God move in miraculous ways; healing the sick, watching people accept Jesus, seeing lives transformed, people freed from bondage, delivering bibles around the country and having the opportunity to see the living word of God change people....

Here is a small overview and I will continue to blog more about these past 5 months. I have SO many stories and things to share, but here is just an overview! (I'm sorry I wasn't able to blog much. We did not have much internet access at all)! 
                            Bible distribution
Bible distribution was truly amazing. The goal of this project is to put one bible in every house of Costa Rica. I was first apprehensive about going from house to house delivering a bible... I was worried that it would be impersonal and that we were just ‘leaving them alone’. I really love personal ministries so I was worried about just being in someones house for half of an hour ministering and then leaving. But God completely changed my mindset. There is nothing more powerful than the living word of the living God.... God created the whole world just by speaking... there is power in His word!!!
I was so amazed to see how God had been pursuing each person that we met... this was God’s ministry not ours. Each heart was ready, and God had been working LONG before we joined in with Him to deliver the bibles. People were touched to know that God sent us to hike through mountains for hours just to deliver them a present from the Lord! 
A little old woman we delivered a bible to. She asked us to sit and read her a few passages. We read as tears streamed down her face. She was in desperate need of encouragement. 

A family plagued with sickness. We were able to pray and declare healing over this family. God gave big promises at this house. The little baby was born 3 months early with a hole in her heart. God promised that he would heal her by the time she completes the total 9 months she was supposed to have developing in her mother's womb. 

 Skate Park Ministry- Puerto Viejo 
The Skate ministry that we did in Puerto Viejo was fabulous! We were able to reach children and youth in a VERY dark town. Children who live surrounded by drug trafficking, sex, negligent parents, witchcraft, and complete darkness. We were able to reach these children through skateboarding and then were able to build relationships and watch God transform their lives. 

Feeding Program Ministry- Nicaragua 
In Nicaragua we worked with a feeding program and children's ministry in the trash dump. Through this ministry we were able to pour into children who have little hope. By changing the way people think, they can change they way they live (Romans 12:2). 

Looking out over the entrance of the dump. 
A young boy with a cape on playing in the trash.....

Thank you to everyone who made these past 5 months possible and successful through prayer and financial support! Thank you for playing such a crucial role in missions through your support! This would not be possible without your obedience! 

More to come this week!!!!! xoxo