January 31, 2010

Last year the children at risk school spent three months in Jaco building relationships with the kids there and working with a woman named Bleu at an after-school program she started in one of the squatter communities by the river.

This weekend Scott, Kai, Ezzy and the children at risk school staff and students went to Jaco to visit some of the kids, Bleu and the river. This is a really sweet video about Bleu and the project our students worked with. You can really see and get an idea of what it is like there.


A prayer

January 31, 2010

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.


– A Franciscan Benediction

A challenge

January 25, 2010

We found this article and wanted to share it.  It is by a missionary in Africa and in it she shares her heart and pain over the situations she is seeing, the poverty all around her and children in need.  She challenges Christians worldwide when she shares the facts.  There are about 168.8 million children in the world in dire need…and 2.1 billion people who profess to be Christians. If only 8% of those Christians would help one needy child, all the children would be taken care of.  She says, “I DO NOT BELIEVE that the God of the universe created too many children in His image and not enough love or food or care to go around. In fact I believe that He created the Body of Christ for just that, to help these little ones, the least of these. And I believe that except for a handful, the Body of Christ is failing.”

Click here to read the full article:  On earth as it is in heaven

Two weeks in

January 24, 2010

We are now finished with the second week of the children at risk school.  We have nine students from Canada, Guatemala, Costa Rica, South Korea and the USA.  It is amazing to see these guys come to this school where already we have covered some tough topics and they are all totally engaging.  Even as we examine some of the horrible things happening to children they are not shrinking back.  Looking into the issues affecting children is a painful, overwhelming thing and each one of us has to run to God.  In Him is the only way we can handle it.  It’s too painful, too big.  So please be praying for this time for each of these students.  The following photos are of Isaac, Anthony and Pablo giving presentations during class.

Also, we have been given an amazing opportunity to partner with Casa Viva (see the post below).  Every Wednesday we will be picking up a family of five siblings who are living with five separate families.  We bring them together to a central location so they can have some time together.  This Wednesday was our first time and it was amazing to see how much these kids love one another.  We are so glad that we can bring them together once a week for the rest of this school.  The students also have other opportunities to work with ministries to children here in Costa Rica.  This Saturday they worked with Metro Ministries an outreach to at risk children.

Each student has created a children at risk blog site where they are writing several updates each week.  Click on the names below to find out more about what exactly they are learning and experiencing:

Becky Davis

Hyang Kye

Emily Taylor

Amanda Maune

Isaac Montero

Amanda Noyes

Anthony Gutierrez

Daniel Vanderpyl

Pablo Jimenez

Rachel Grimes (staff)

Casa Viva

January 14, 2010

This year’s children at risk school students have the privilege to work with Casa Viva on a weekly basis.  Casa Viva is a cutting edge children’s ministry that motivates the church and Christian families to open their homes to children who need one – whether they are orphaned, abandoned or in a dangerous situation.  They strive to get children out of institutional care and into a loving family home.   You can find out more about what they do here:  casaviva.org

“God sets the lonely in families.”  Psalm 68:6

Philip Aspegren, director of Casa Viva, shared some interesting thoughts with us from a conference he just came back from.  Care for orphans is heading in a new direction and the church and Christians worldwide need to get on board – and even lead the way in this!  I’ll quote him here:

I’m just returning from a conference in England sponsored by UNICEF, Save the Children and the Better Care Network called The Neglected Agenda:  Alternative Solutions for Children without Adequate Parental Care.  It was a heady group with World Bank, USAID, Ministers and heads of Child Welfare Departments worldwide.  Very fascinating information.There was a resolution that was just welcomed (a little less strong than “adopted”) by the UN giving guidelines for caring for these children.  (The people who wrote the guidelines were at the conference.)

It strongly pushes to decrease the need for alternative care by developing programs that help keep families together through support programs.  If children have been separated, they encourage reunification with nuclear or extended family.  If these options are not available, they push for adoption and foster care as healthy alternatives and push institutional care, clusters of group homes, etc. as a last resort.

UNICEF estimates there are 2 million children living in institutional care.  Save the Children estimates 8 million in institutional care (the real number is probably somewhere in between).  The minister for child welfare in Indonesia was at the conference, and estimated that there are 8,000 children’s homes in Indonesia, serving ½ a million children.  However, they just started a registration process of the homes and have only 1,500 registered.

Between 90 and 95% of the children living in institutional care have one or two living parents.  Many of these children could be reunited to their own biological families, especially with support services.   Both the statistics and the possibilities for reunification held true in the children’s homes we directed in the Dominican Republic.   (We – Scott & Leslie – also found this true in children’s homes we worked with in Thailand and the Philippines)

The church, I believe, has the existing infrastructure and community support network that would be required to provide a scale solution for many children worldwide.  What an opportunity in front of all of us as Christians.  Our prayer is that God would use Casa Viva and other ministries that will be able to fill the gap, and give children family.

Here’s an interesting article that another friend shared with us:  Most ‘orphans’ have a living parent, says charity

And a touching book about foster care – we read this, loved it and recommend it!  It shows what can happen when a pastor truly grasps God’s heart for children in need.  Amazing!   Small Town, Big Miracle: How Love Came to the Least of These (Focus on the Family Books)

Children at Risk School

January 9, 2010
  • Number of children in the world: 2.2 billion
  • Children forced to leave their homes due to conflict or human rights violations: 20 million
  • 400 million children have no access to safe water
  • Number of children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS worldwide: 15 million
  • 640 million children live without adequate shelter
  • The number of children trafficked each year: 1.2 million
  • Number of children living in poverty: 1 billion
  • Estimated number of children killed in conflict since 1990: 1.6 million
  • Daily death-toll of children worldwide before their fifth birthday: 29,158

Statistics: UNICEF – State of the World’s Children 2006

The goal of the children at risk school is to multiply leaders who will champion the cause of children through social, political, judicial and spiritual intervention. Students experience God’s heart for justice, defending the cause of the fatherless, rescuing the poor, the weak and the oppressed.  Students are already arriving and classes begin Monday!