Vacation Bible School In Tejarcillos, Los Guido, and La Carpio

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Throughout The Week

This week was another great opportunity serving alongside the West Jackson Baptist Church lead by Pastor Robin! Obediently serving with passion filled hearts, they set out that they may win the hearts of those living in these ministry areas where gang life is expected and abuse runs rampant...for this the Gospel is the only HOPE for tommorrow.

Many months ago, the Lord placed a desire on the hearts of many families within the West Jackson Baptist Church family to support the ministry here in Costa Rica by generously purchasing school uniforms for many kids varying in age. For many this small gift, along with other school supplies, is often a road block for a kid to be successful in the education system...the cost of going to school often prevents many of them from having the opportunity for any type of education. As the West Jackson team visited some of the kids who received uniforms, it was a small gift with a much greater impact, meeting both a tangible and an eternal need by sharing the gift of Christ's love. During this time, God used us to share the Gospel through the Bridge Illustration, which is used as a tool to draw some of these kids and families into what may be the only light visible in these areas...the light of life in Christ.

Another awesome opportunity for both the ministry of the New Life Church and the visiting West Jackson team was the medical clinic. You can read the previous blog for some pictures and updates...God continues to use the visiting teams and the gifts which they have been given to reach the local communities of Costa Rica. It has been great to witness the glory of God being revealed at La Finca through the many ways in which God chooses to work.

Kids Club is always a blast! It's great to see the fruit from years past birth in the older youth leading and teaching during the Kids Club, as well as the younger kids who return week after week seeking peace, joy, and comfort at La Finca through the Word of God. God's glory is definitely being revealed here as He works tangibly in the lives of those indivduals over the years and bears much fruit in the ministry of the New Life Church of Los Guido.

Make sure to check back for updates, prayer requests, pictures, and much more. I'm looking forward to some of the upcoming blogs and posts. Feel free to leave comments or questions.

Between Monday, August 1st to Sunday, August 7th, my home church (Community Bible Church) is hosting a giveaway via my blog. A prize (“The Hole in Our Gospel” by World Vision CEO Richard Stearns and a bundle of worship CD’s) will be given to a winner randomly chosen from the comments below (Facebook comments will not count). The winner will be announced via CBC’s Facebook and this blog…so be sure to check back!

Participants can comment as often as they’d like, can be anywhere around the world, and are welcome to spread the word to their friends. Be sure to comment with your first AND last name so the prize makes it to the correct person. A winner will be announced on Sunday, August 7th at 7 P.M. PST.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Medical Clinic and Prayer Service

The visiting team was equiped with three doctors who eagerly and prayerfully gave themselves to the people of Costa Rica. Hosted by the New Life Church of Los Guido inside the recently finished multiuse building, the clinic was open to the community and took place over the course of 6-7 hours. After being seen by a doctor and given the needed perscription, the gospel was shared with them through a variety of forms, both by the youth leadership team as well as the members of the visiting team. There was a lot to do...crafts with kids, soccer with the youth, serving coffee to those waiting, translating for the doctors, and working the pharmacy. There was a job for everyone!

It is awesome to have experienced and witnessed the development of the multiuse building over the last few years. In the picture above, those visiting the medical clinic waited patiently and enjoyed some coffee. The building was an excellent place for the clinic to be held. I'm excited to see how God continues to use this building in the Los Guido community as the New Life Ministry strives to reach every individual for the sake of a life in Christ.

During the clinic there were many great opportunities to play soccer with the youth, draw with chalk on the sidewalk with some of the kids, and entertain even the littlest of them all.

After the medical clinic ended, the night came to a close with a prayer service that is held weekly. It was an awesome time to reflect on God's presence at La Finca, the way in which He worked through so many during the clinic, and to give thanks for His continued sustainability of the ministry that takes place day in and day out.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Once a Kid...Always A Kid!

This last week has been a great opportunity to catch up on a few things, enjoy some free time, and prepare for the team of 34 lead by Pastor Robin from West Jacksonville Baptist Church. This last week I have found great pleasure in digging into God's Word throughout each day as I continue to read through Romans, in addition to other daily readings. One of a few days of excellent weather allowed me and the others staying at the mission house to enjoy some board games and basketball at the local park. To jump start the weekend, the other interns and I joined the Kuzdas family and went to a local movie theatre to see "Cars 2" Spanish of course.

Check out the pictures below of some of the ministry that took place throughout the week. Also, be sure look for upcoming posts as I hope to challenge and be challenged with discussion on various topics.

Perhaps one of the most messy! Bobbing for candy in a tin can filled with water, followed by bobbing for candy in a tin can filled with flour is a perfect recipe for excitement, laughter, and smiles. No matter what needs to be accomplished, Karla here is always willing to be the first volunteer to get in and take care of business.

Another game that often is played by popular demand is the pineapple game. During this game, each team member has an opportunity to eat as much pineapple as possible in a short period of time. The can only use your mouth. The best part is when one kid says, "I think I ate a tooth!" And everyone looks at the other kid who is smiling...sure enough a tooth is missing.

And when the game is is a free for all shot at the remaining portions of the pineapple.

During Kids Club, it is a great time for the kids to have a safe place where they can fearlessly enjoy games, the company of those around them, and hear the Word of God with their friends.

A team that had previously visited to serve in Costa Rica held a vision clinic over the course of a few days. During that time, hundreds of prescribed glasses where handed out to those who cannot afford them. Some of the glasses however, had to be specially made and it was those glasses we had the opportunity to separate and deliver to three different locations in Los Guido.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Radical Service and Relationship

"...I learned to serve and intentionally live in peoples lives through which I could not just speak the truth of Jesus Christ, but show them through my actions of everyday living. And while these methods of sharing faith all shared the common burden of preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, it was not recently that I discovered that all Christians are missionaries. In which ever context we are called, whether it be everyday work, relationships with old High School friends, or the call to a foreign country—we are all on mission with a God who is on mission himself."

Jon Keck, writer for Theology 21: Renovating Theology For A New Generation in "How Are We To Spread the Good News? Bible Thumping, Thermometers, and Radical Service", asks himself the question HOW?...How the individual should share the gospel that is. Click on the link above to read the full article as he looks at this question in his own life and consideres WHO the missionaries are through the eyes of Christ.

Monday, July 18, 2011

come see what_I_ have done and_WE_have accomplished


Often anchored to success and accomplishment, a few meaningless letters can be composed to establish those words which acquire a much more meaningful existence. Such words are often on the receiving end of any merit, fame, and honor that is to be given. Paul speaks of this in Romans when he says, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him..." (1:21). Where then does God lie in the midst of such a battle over the longing heart and self-driven mind? Where does God stand in the midst of I, WE, and YOU? My prayer is that He doesn't merely stand in the midst of I, WE, and YOU...but rather is the I, WE, and YOU. I would challenge you to wrestle with this idea daily and ask yourself, "Who becomes more famous in my life?"

Is it the I, WE, and YOU that creates our god... or is it our God that creates the I, WE, and YOU? Who then receives the glory?

As WE are challened by the day and glorified by the hour, let us take advantage of the opportunity we are given by the minute and redirect ALL praise, honor, and glorification not to oursleves temporarily, but to God eternally so that, "men praise God for our obedience that accompanies our confession of the gospel of Christ" and that our service would "overflow in many expressions of thanks to God" (2 Corinthians 12,13).

Make sure to check out the post below to read about some of the weekly ministry and events that took place last week...

The Week Comes To An End

This last week God enabled many things to take place. I hope that these pictures serve as a glimpse of what God is doing in Costa Rica and in the lives of those who live here.

The last two weeks consisted of full blown Vacation Bible School (VBS) with the East Hill Christian School. Last week concluded a three day series of VBS in La Carpio. Over these three days, there were roughly 450 kids and 100 moms that attended and were exposed to the Word of God through love, scripture, and various dramas put on by the visiting team, as well as the youth leadership team. The group above was only one of four groups that visited that day. Long term fruit is our prayer!

Sunday service was great as we continue to look at the future and lead into the present, given what we we know about the past and the future. Sunday is also a great time to visit with families and play with long-time friends. I met Anita and Sumey last December during a VBS. It's great to see them continue to go to church and be discipled at such a young age.

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to go with the two choir teams from the New Life Church of Los Guido to Parque Diversiones. This theme park serves as a "Six Flags Wannabe", yet is a ton of fun and a huge reward to these kids for their hard work and commitment to serving in the church.

Friday was a great time! On Friday, the New Life Church of Los Guido held a Men's BBQ...however we couldn't just eat...we had to play broomball as well. We ate some great food and enjoyed being kids. Team Jovenes (youth in spanish) ranged in age from 23 (myself) to 60. Team Ninos (kids in spanish) ranged from 15-22. Us "Jovenes" claimed victory with a score of 10-5!

Every Saturday is Kid's Club. With or without rain...the fun must go on! And it does! It is events like these in which the New Life Church of Los Guido sets out to teach the Gospel to kids at a very young age in a way that is fun, enjoyable, and impactful.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From One VBS To The Next

Last week, we concluded a three day series of VBS in Tejarcillos and Los Guido. Today, we set out to La Carpio for our last series of VBS. Below are some pictures of VBS in Los Guido.

One of the popular stages of a VBS is games. It is the uniqueness and creativeness of some of these games, that make it dirty, fun, and hilarious. During this game, the two groups eat marshmallows off of the peanut butter covered face of one of their fellow teammates. Definitely a fun game!

The VBS's bring in many kids and tons of new faces. Karla, on my left, is well known at La Finca and brings much energy to those around her. Junita, on my right, is a newer member to La Finca. It's my prayer that the little faces like these two precious girls are drawn to La Finca with an eagerness to learn about God, understand who He is, and share it with others.

Another stage of the VBS is crafts. After the craft, the kids learn, memorize, and repeat Scripture. For this, they are given a small prize. This small prize and the encouragement they get is often never found in the home by a parent or any other family member. It is a goal of the ministry to support those kids when they learn what others tell them they're not capable of doing.

Bible History is a high energy and fun time as the kids learn various Bible stories. It is very interactive and allows the kids to share what they think, rather to be told what they think.

Brittany is another little girl from a VBS. These kids spot out who they want to be with and cling to you like no other. They are encouraging and fun...I'm challenged daily by these kids!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"I Walk Alone"

Blind, lost, and stolen! The minds and hearts of those who live in Tejarcillos are captured not by the light of the Gospel, but rather by the false promises of the "god of this age" (Satan) which are so visible, yet so uniquely disguised. Addictions, abuse, and abandonment run rampantly through the streets. Satan waits daily to devour the lives of these youth, parents, and families, to steal the hope that is found through Jesus Christ. Tejarcillos is well known for its dangerous slums and is known as the "sex trafficing capital" of Costa Rica. The local papers are filled daily with stories about this dangerous place.

Paul sums this up best in 2 Corinthians 4:4-6..."The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbeleivers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness', made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

Having a father in the house is a foreign concept, a mother in and out of the house is prevalent, and child left alone with no direction is often the case. How challenging it is to know that loneliness is a lifestyle, as they go to sleep in fear and wake another day with the understanding of "I walk alone". Above is a picture of the community center were the VBS events were held and spray painted on the side in black is "I walk alone". How often do you think people walk by this...and hang their head and in their hearts say, "That's me!"?

What is your it your family, the house down the street, your next door neighbor, a colleague at school, or fellow coworker? Who is it in your life that needs to hear the Gospel? Who is it that "walks alone"? Paul challenges us to GO!

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard of? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!" Romans 10:13-15

Friday, July 8, 2011

VBS In Tejarcillos

At the beginning of the week, I had the opportunity to partner with the visiting team from East Hill Christian School of Pensacola, Florida as they hosted a series of VBS events over the course of three days in Tejarcillos. During this time, there were four stages set up which included: crafts, games, bible story telling, and a puppet show. All of these activities are used as tool to reach the individuals by presenting God's Word in a way that is attractive and easy to understand.

Over the course of the three days, there were roughly 150 kids and moms that attended. While the numbers give a very basic understanding of how the VBS went, the number of those who join a discipleship group to learn, understand, and apply God's Word will determine the real success. The purpose of these events is to provide individuals the opportunity to learn about the Gospel and a road map or avenue for doing exactly that.

As an intern, I not only get the opportunity to partner with the visiting teams, but also to sit back and observe. Below are a few pictures from the VBS in Tejarcillos of the gospel being shared with the youth through evangelism and discipleship, as well as sharing the love of Christ through games, being goofy, and even being a big kid myself.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tejarcillos:Prayer Requests

Tejarcillos is an area well-known for the control and influence the local gang has on the lives of those living there. It is comparable to a mafia that controls every aspect of the city. It is because of this, that the New Life Church has been called to reach the individuals that live there. Over the last two days, I have had the opportunity to partner with the visiting team in sharing the gospel through a series of VBS (Vacation Bible School) events.

As we conclude this three day series of VBS in Tejarcillos, please be praying...

that God would be glorified for the fruit that begins from these VBS events
for the hearts of those attending...that they would be absorbent and receptive
for the Gospel to be illustrated and exemplified in a real and attractive way
for both immediate and long-term fruit to come from these events
for the safety of the youth as they return to a home filled with violence, addictions, and loneliness.
for the safety of us going to Tejarcillos
for the pastor and the church body...that they would constantly seek after the guidance and power within the Gospel
for a future piece of property that will serve as a place of discipleship and worship where people will be encouraged and challenged.
for the acceptance of Christ in this area that will lead to long-term discipleship of many kids, parents, and families.


Sunday, July 3, 2011


" O sovereign Lord, you have begun [continued] to show your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?"
Deuteronomy 3:23

This last week has served as a great opportunity to jump right into the weekly ministry of the New Life Church and visibly see the immediate fruit, as well as the fruit from past years. Where does this fruit come from? Is it because I have chosen to give up a summer to be a good person? Is it because it makes the youth feel good when they are praised by others? Or is it because we serve an ALL consuming God who jealously seeks ALL, wants ALL, and desires ALL credit and glory for the opportunities we are provided?

The obedience of the youth leadership team, the missionaries, and visiting teams, as well as the New Life Church to follow the call to GO, has been used as a tool in His "strong hand". What does this mean? This means that fruitful disciples are being produced, that hope and joy are being found in Christ, and that lives are radically being lived with a different purpose. What does this mean for you and me? How awesome it is and how thankful I am, to have had the opportunity to witness and experience the ways in which God moves people within these areas! And how awesome it is, that through your prayer, support, and encouragement, you have joined me in this opportunity to serve.

Gretel, Jose', and Victoria are some of the newest kids to La Finca. They were just another three kids playing with balloons, getting into trouble, and having fun...or so I thought! As they continued to look me up and down, I began praying for the courage to muster up my best Spanish speaking skills. I asked myself various questions in this process. I wondered things like, "Where did they come from?" and "What is their story?" As they sat next to me, I asked them their names and began talking to them. After a short period of time, I told them I was not staying for the Show de Jabon (Soap Show/Kids Club) because I was not feeling well. As I began walking away, I heard "Esperame, esperame!" ("wait, wait!") After stopping, I was greeted by a tug on my shoulder and these three kids...not understanding why I had to leave... asked when they would see me again. I look forward to seeing them again and anticipate how the Lord will work in their lives.

The older youth group meets weekly as well. After playing two games of Spoons, enjoying a warm plate of Arroz con Pollo (one of my favorites!), we were lead through Scripture by Melinda, who leads the youth group. We looked at not only what God is to each of us individually, but as the body of Christ. This time served as a great opportunity for the youth to better understand the characteristics of God through Scripture.

Every week a team from Los Guido (the primary ministry area) travels to La Carpio for discipleship groups. La Carpio is also known as the "trash can" of Costa Rica. This area receives over 300 tons of trash and waste every day. I had the opportunity to visit this little guy as he welcomed us with great joy and excitement. During my time with him, I was able to listen to him share his longing to understand, memorize, and teach the gospel.