There’s so much that I could write about in this update, (the wonderful community I am living in, treks through the rainforest to waterfalls, my crawlingly slow acquisition of Spanish) so I’ll try to fill y’all in as best as I can. If I were to try and talk about everything that has happened in the last month I wouldn’t even know where to start; but let’s just say this: God is so real and so good and He is showing me exactly what that means in my life.
It’s been an incredible journey over the last few weeks learning about who God really is, and who I really am. I’m blessed to have grown up with two loving parents who have always pointed me to God, but never forced me to choose Him, and I’ve always known about God since I was little. When I was around twelve years old, I decided that I liked this God bloke, and wanted to actually know Him, not just know about Him. Since then I’ve been trying to live my life in a way which honours God and shows other people the love that God has for them.
Wandering through life, and going through my teenage years, my view of the world and my view of God was shaped by what was going on around me and what I felt to be true. I put God in boxes of how I could understand Him: His kindness fits nicely in this box, His forgiveness can go in that one, His love is about so high and I’m pretty sure His goodness is about that big. But out here in Costa Rica I’ve been blown away by the truth of who God is, outside of the tiny restrictions I had previously put Him in. And everyday He is kicking down the walls of another box: “guess what my child?” *bam* “I’m bigger than you thought!” *bam* “I love you more than than you know!” *bam* “I have such good plans for your life”. And with each box He shows me how He sees me, how He loves me, how He knows me. Some people go on gap years to ‘find themselves’, but I have found God in a way that I haven’t known Him before and because He is so good He is showing me more and more of who He created me to be. In this I have found so much freedom.
As well as discovering more of God, my team and I are also serving the local community. For three weeks we were helping with a programme called ‘Metro Ministries’ which works with children at risk. Metro runs kids clubs for children who live in poverty, are in homes where there might be abuse or live in areas where drugs are an issue. We’ve been assisting the full-time staff with these clubs, playing with the children and teaching them that they are so loved and have such value. Working with children is such a joy of mine and it was a real sweetness to help out at Metro.
For the next few weeks, we are going out in the evenings to give coffee and food to people who live on the street, talking and praying with them to show them that they are not forgotten despite how society ignores them. Here’s a quick story from this experience:
We drove to an area of the city known for its drug problem, van loaded with coffee, bread and plates of food. As we stepped out of the van, people began to flock toward us, evidently accustomed to good-willed folk in similar vehicles coming to hand out hot food. Within a minute or two, I felt nervous and entirely out of my comfort zone, surrounded by men, and a few women, who were drunk or off-their-faces with drugs, who I could not even speak the same language as. So for a while, I just observed as my team mates began to hand out food and start conversations. Watching, my heart hurt for the depravity of the people around me. Yes for their lack of clothing and food, but even more so their emotional, mental or spiritual poverty – it was so evident in some of them as they walked up to the van with glazed eyes or tried to sustain a conversation amidst schizophrenic distractedness.
At one point during the evening, a woman came up to me and began to talk. Sadly, my Spanish is still very weak and when she realised I did not understand she turned to a friend beside me and continued in her flow of thought. Immediately after her speech she walked off, and my friend translated for me: she said that she was grateful for the food we had brought and in fact others had come before and given her clothes. But despite this she could never feel whole, because she had two sons, and their father was her own dad. I wish I could have understood her, and that she would have stayed so I could have talked to her about how I so often feel incomplete or not good enough or broken, but God’s love makes me complete and whole. I pray that I will meet her again, to comfort and encourage her in that. But that evening God really spoke to me that simply improving someone’s physical circumstance is not enough. We can give food, hand out clothing, resources and materials, but if we can’t bring HOPE, if we can’t bring LOVE, if we can’t bring HEALING, then what’s the point? Don’t get me wrong, I hate that there are people in the world going to sleep hungry and cold, but I hate that there are people in the world going to sleep hurting, feeling unworthy, purposeless and unloved too. I’ve always known people need to know about Jesus as well as have a better physical quality of life, but a woman standing in front of me essentially saying “Your food can’t fix my BROKENNESS” hit me hard. I’m passionate about seeing people lifted out of poverty, but I never want to forget about people’s spiritual poverty.
You may have heard the saying ‘Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows so much suffering in the world, but then I worry He’ll ask me the same question”. At one point that evening, I asked God “Where are you in this situation? These people NEED you, Father”. And straight back at me He said, “I am here, because you are here. You can be a light in this situation. Be my hands and feet, show these people I love them”. For the last year or so God has grown a passion inside of me to help those living in poverty, but recently He has been showing me the world’s need for people who are passionate about bringing change to impoverished hearts. I’ve experienced in my own life, and seen in the lives of so many others, how God brings healing, hope, life and freedom to those who are lost or hurting or broken (and that’s everyone, because we’ve all got our baggage). It’s incredible that God wants to use me (and YOU) to be His answer to both of those things.
I am also excited to say that my team will be going on our outreach to Brazil! Outreach is the practical phase of my DTS, where we hope to work alongside established charities or churches to bless communities, be the love of God in action and share how Jesus has touched and transformed our lives with those we encounter. We will also spend a few weeks in other parts of Costa Rica, investing into the country we have been living in. We have no solid plans for either location yet, but I will be sure to update you when we do.
Check out the video we made to tell people what we’ve been doing so far, and how you can support us as we prepare for outreach. As a team we currently need $25,900 for our outreach, but we know a good God who provides in miraculous ways and are excited to see that happen.