Romans 11:36

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen."

Jul 26, 2009

The Value of VBS

Every week, mission teams come to Costa Rica to work on construction projects from 8:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon. Every week, it's the progress on the construction site that motivates teams to sweat for the Lord. Every week, the hope of completing a Children's Home, a church, a clinic, a classroom, etc., gets people excited about the mission of the Methodist Church.

But it's what the team does from 4:00 until 5:30 that has eternal implications. At 4:00 in the afternoon, three times a week, the mission team leads local churches in Vacation Bible School. Sometimes we have 100 children. Sometimes we have 4.

Teams love VBS. It's their chance to love children. It's their chance to "let the little children come to Me," and to see unspeakable joy in the faces of beautiful Costa Ricans. And there's something else: it's their chance to teach children about the truth of Jesus.

But children don't understand Jesus, you may say. Children can't grasp the intricacies of the Bible, you may think. Well I beg to differ. Jesus told the disciples to "let the little children come to Me" because it is them to whom the Kingdom of God belongs. They are the ones with pure, innocent faith.

Yet I say all of this not to preach, but to tell you of a story that has motivated me day in and day out during our VBS madness:

Back in the day, say 50 years ago, missionaries used to cross the country of Costa Rica on horseback, on raft, and on foot, in order to bring the message of Jesus to Costa Rican children. They used to host VBS in the "boonies" of Costa Rica, in the small mountain towns, in the little villages along the river.

And one of those days, some missionaries came to the town where a little 13-year-old boy lived. That 13-year-old boy attended VBS that day, and was touched by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

That boy is now Pastor Fernando Abarca, arguably the most influential pastor in the Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica. Pastor Fernando is the head of Agape Church, the church which will worship in the new community center that we're building, the church that has started a GED program for the local Puerto Viejo community, and the church where our medical clinic will be housed. The man has been touched by Jesus to revamp Puerto Viejo, one soul at a time.

So, when we talk of mission teams coming down to Costa Rica to help us build, we also talk of mission teams coming down to Costa Rica to help lead Vacation Bible School and change the country forever. One child, one life, one powerful ministry for God.

Workin' at Monteverde

Here's Susan, the daughter of one of our construction workers, Roberto. Susan and her older brother Kendal have been hanging out at our work site for the past week, and will be there with us for the upcoming week as well.

At this church in Monteverde / Rio Frio, we are building 3 classrooms, which will be used for Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, church workshops, school tutoring and much more. We started this project a year ago, but haven't had the manpower to continue working there. Finally, the time has come.

Our goal is to finish the cinder block walls this week, along with all of the concrete floors, so that we can start working on the columns and roof in the upcoming months. Please pray for us and for the congregation at Monteverde.

Last Saturday night, the current mission team of youth and leaders went to the church at Monteverde and held their own worship service, with English praise songs and all. The church was very receptive to our presence, and some of the church members even stuck around to hear the interns give their testimonies (in English, as well). It was a fun way for the youth from our mission team to interact with a local congregation in a non-Sunday setting.

1 block down, 40,000 to go!

So we've now laid the first block at the Methodist Children's Home!

Our goal is to finish this first house by next summer. Who besides God knows how many more blocks it will take to finish this house (and the other 4 houses, and the multi-purpose building, and the open-air chapel, and the picnic pavilion, etc.), but I figured 40,000 gives you a rough idea of how much farther we have to go.

A team from many different churches around Clarksville, Tennessee had the blessing of being present for the laying of the first block. Kim, our new nurse and full-time missionary in Costa Rica, was the overseer of the site. It was funny because Ray and Lidia were in the States, Will and Ella Faircloth were unavailable, and I was in the States.

Clearly, this project is God's, and no one else's.

We have at least 6 more teams coming to work on the Children's Home this year, and we're hoping to continue work on the house throughout the year, using local Tico help.

It's so refreshing to finally see some structural evidence of all the work we have put into the Children's Home. Our prayer is that God will continue to bless the project and will lead us as we start the process of accepting children into our care.