Jaco update

April 25, 2010

It’s been two weeks since we moved to Jaco and so much has already happened.  For the first six months here I’m working with 4 children at risk school students helping coordinate their outreach and working alongside them.   We’ve started a basic schedule of working Tuesday through Saturday and taking Sunday and Mondays off.  This seems to work well and already so many opportunities are before us.  We’ve been working twice a day with a poor community in an area called, “El Hueco.”  We call it “The River” because this is a poor community that sprung up along a river that flows into the ocean.  We’ve been connecting with churches here and one church called “Radical” has asked us to lead their youth group for the next 5 weeks while their youth leaders are on a trip.  This is a great opportunity to get to know the youth and build relationships with them.  Many of them are youth that live in the river community.  We’ve also helped with a kids club in another poor area that is run by a calvary chapel church.  Each day from 4 – 6 one of us opens up the skate ramp at Christian Surfers and on Wednesday nights there’s a bible study and many youth come to skate and hear a lesson from the Bible.  You can read below about some other ministry we’re getting involved in as well. It feels great to just jump right in and get to know all the wonderful people that are already working here and the wonderful things they are doing.  There  are so many needs and I have lots of ideas about work to do long term here.  Please pray with me, because I want to be intentional and the most effective I can be here.  I have not committed to anything long term here yet and I am using this time to pray and seek God about what He has for me.  In the meantime I am getting out there, building relationships and loving every minute of it.   You can read first hand experiences from the students by checking out their blogsites:

Amanda Maune

Emily Taylor

In family life the kids are doing great and adjusting well.  Homeschooling makes that a lot easier because we just keep right on with school as normal.  Part of being a missionary means going to the crazy places and living there to minister to those in need.  We know that and it’s part of the life we’ve chosen.  In each situation we trust God to protect our family and meet our needs.  We’ve been blessed with a great place to live.  It’s a complex with 4 units adn we have some interesting characters living here, each with their own story I’m sure.  On Thursday night it was an eerie night.  The power went out in the middle of a lightning storm and one of our neighbors began to shout profanities at the top of his lungs.  That was a little disturbing.  Then our landlord who lives above us began shouting back and pretty soon they were threatening to shoot each other and naming the specific guns they owned and things like, “see you in hell.”  It was pretty freaky.  Someone called the police, but the shouting continued even as the police were there.  Meanwhile without fans running it gets stifling hot in the house.  Sleeping was not even an option at that point!  I continued to stand at the window and pray for peace .  I’m just sharing this situation to give you an idea of the kinds of things we’re coming against here and so you can pray for us.  It’s definitely a crazy town but we can rest in the truth that there is no safer place to be then in the center of God’s will.

-Scott

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God on the move and human trafficking wake up call

April 25, 2010

It seems like much is starting to happen here in Costa Rica regarding prostitution and human trafficking.  God is stirring the hearts of people all around and doors are opening.  It seems that this topic of human trafficking is something that is coming to light among Christians.  The media and governments are becoming aware of the immensity of this problem worldwide.

In the Children at Risk school this year we had a week focused on this topic and Ro Potter came to teach on it.  During this week students went out on the streets to see first hand what’s going on and do some investigations.  We went out twice – once to downtown San Jose and once to Jaco from about 12:30 at night until the early hours of the morning.  We broke into smaller groups as we walked the streets.  Posing as a client, one of our students was told by a pimp that he could have sex with a girl of 12 – 14 years old for $100 and he would take him there immediately if he liked.  The student took the guys phone number and said he would call later. This was a huge wake up call for me, personally.  We have been hearing so much about sexual exploitation of children here in Costa Rica, but to discover first hand that right downtown, this kind of thing is happening and so easily accessibly just felt sickening.  Right now, on these very streets, young children are being exploited and sold.  It is a tradgedy and it’s heartbreaking to know this is happening all around us.

So now our student has the phone number and is pursuing it with government agencies here.  Paola is my former DTS student.  After completing her DTS she stayed on staff here and has become a great friend.   On her own initiative she has begun to reach out to the prostitutes on the streets of downtown San Jose. She knows that God loves each one of them and she has offered to teach some of the girls English. They are really excited about it and of course wondering why this stranger is offering them free English lessons?  The answer is that each one of them is valuable and are image bearers of our God.  Another friend who has taken our children at risk seminars owns a beautiful home in San Jose.  She wants to donate her home to a ministry for children.  She’s been praying for several years about the best use of this home and recently is looking into using it to open the very first Safe house for girls escaping the streets.  This would be a place of refuge and healing and a chance to start a new life.  On Friday her and Paola and another friend met with government officials to talk about this possibility!

Meanwhile in Jaco God is moving, too.  He’s brought people here that have a heart to reach out to the girls who are working as prostitutes.  In just the two short weeks we’ve been here we’ve met several church leaders who have it on their hearts to start something.  We went out last week at night to just pray, observe and walk the streets.  There are so many girls out there, even on a Tuesday night.   It makes me feel ashamed to be American when I see the way these roving packs of guys from the States treat the girls – it’s so degrading.  We could even hear these guys talking as the approached the prostitutes and as they talked and laughed they referred to their own wives back home, pretty horrible.  Who knows what they’re telling their wives as they come down here for a “holiday.”   Two of our students were invited to a planning meeting to pray and talk about ideas for reaching out to these girls.  We’re going to have Paola come down for a few days and take our female students out on the streets to make some connections to get some English lessons started.  English lessons are a great way to build relationships because it’s something that the girls want, so they will be motivated to come.

Although this is so heart breaking and overwhelming, and the in-your-face darkness is easier to see then the good that’s going on behind the scenes, God is on the move and change is coming.  I believe as we continue to work together, pray, make our lives available, God is going to bring change, healing and restoration to many lives.  Continue to pray with us!

-Scott


Lessons Learned

April 3, 2010

The Children at Risk School 2010 lecture phase has come to a close.  It’s been an intense three months and we ended with a time of celebration.   Working in such a difficult field and facing so many heart-breaking situtions, JOY has to permeate all that we do.   The students have a week-long break and then will begin their internships in Jaco and Tijuana.

So what exactly have students learned in this course?  Here is one student’s own words as she ends her three months studying with us.

How do we minister to street kids?
How do we rescue girls out of prostitution?
How do we have faith for an end to abuse and violence?
How do we live our lives knowing that the evils and injustices of the world are so much worse than we can even imagine?
How do we have hope in the midst of this?

I don’t have all of the answers
I can’t solve the world’s problems
But I do know the One who holds the world in His hands

JESUS

He loves the widow who is struggling to survive
He loves the orphan who is lost and alone
He loves the children who run to the streets to escape the violence at home
He loves the girls who are trapped in prostitution with no way out
He loves the boys who have been forced to kill their friends

I cannot help them on my own.
It’s too hard
The needs are too overwhelming
The situations are too depressing
The statistics are too hopeless

I need more of God.
I need to know His love
I need to feel His presence
I need to live in His peace
I need to be filled with His hope

Everything I do must be following His lead
What I say must come from what He’s spoken to me
How I love the hurting must be from the overflow of His love for me
All I do comes from Him
I must pray, listen, obey

Is that really so simple?
No, I have to know His voice
I have to spend time in His Word
In prayer
In worship
I have to know His truth,
so I can fight the lives of the enemy
I have to be confident in His love,
so I can keep walking when times are hard
knowing, He is with me!
I have to be able to praise Him
for who He is
in spite of what I see around me

He cares
He loves
He rescues
He restores

He is a God of Justice
In the end He wins
Evil looses

The slaves will be free
The broken will be healed
The orphan will have a home

Regardless of what happens here on earth,
“this suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18)
In the end, we win