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.