A good night's sleep had us all in a better place this morning. We were up early and went to worship at CCA (Center for Christian Praise) for the early service at 8am. This is a more quiet, laid back service that the 10am that we have gone to in the past. But still the worship was wonderful, led by people obviously in tune with God's heart. We are always warmly welcomed at the church and made to feel a part of the family rather than just guests. The pastor gave a wonderful message about "The Prosperity Gospel" discussing it not being what the Bible teaches. Prosperity, he said, is far more than financial prosperity -- it begins with a life that is touched by Jesus and committed to holiness above all else. If you are in the desert, what do you want, money or water? Best part of the morning??? I, Pastor Brian drive the van to and from the church -- 15 minutes and San Jose' roads away! Personally, I am impressed with myself!!!! AND everyone got back alive and not in fear of ever being on the road again!
After church we return, and several of us go to the work site to help clear the items inside. Once the house is clear, we divide into two groups and visit what could be some future building sites for yellow houses. Our new friend Lester takes us to his home and we find a place that during the rainy season leaks badly -- to the point where every thing in the home must be covered in plastic. We meet at the top of a hill overlooking Anonos and pray for the city -- Gringos and Ticos together -- broken for this community that Christ is drawing to Himself.
The two groups have a quick lunch and then head down to the site of the "Yellow House". It is demolition day! Words and even pictures cannot describe what this effort is all about -- steep hill, house near collapse, lots of dangerous footing and material that could come crashing down at any moment. Jamie and James take the lead as we being demo! We are thrilled as our 9 are joined by more than a dozen locals (young men, struggling addicts coming to Jesus, even a lady that until a few months ago dealt drugs herself) excited to see this new house go up. This is something new happening in the community -- joining the Americans in the effort! The level of excitement is palpable. The house comes down, digging away at the side of the hill begins and plans to start the foundation begin. I can't help but believe that God is using this house as just another part of the foundation that is being built in Anonos right now!
We finish early so take some time to make sure we are clean -- spiritually and physically (mostly physically -- since we're not sure where some of the water we are covered in came from!) The team meets to discuss the parable of the seeds and the sower as well as what God is already showing us here after just 24 hours. Some other local ministry workers join us for a big Latino dinner and then we head to the Planche' (gathering area) to spend time with the community. The best part of ministering here is that we get to spend lots of our time with people building relationships and getting to know them and their culture. The discussions that the team -- event hrough the language barrier -- is able to have is amazing. You can communicate really well when it's important enough!
The plan was to play basketball with some of the young guys that are Christ-followers and those who He is drawing into the Family, but there is a women's football (that's soccer to you non-Ticos!)
Just last year, this would have never been happening. Rodney tells us that as God has begun to move in the last month, the people have determined to "take back their community." Last year, the planche' was a place where, after dark, the drug dealers and their high customers would hang out. This year, families are gathered together, children are playing and a community is cheering on a friendly football game! One of the guys who is being ministered to by Harvest Hands has headed up this effort and the people have responded. God changes lives...and those changed lives begin to change a community! We are seeing it with our own eyes.
As the football game ends, and the Gringos from Ohio join with Ticos to play b'ball! Nearly 100 people stay to watch, cheer and laugh at the "white boys" who for some reason have mostly ended up on the "skins" team! This is why I don't play basketball!!! Relationships are being buit everywhere today! You can be proud of this team who have all jumped in with both feet -- no fear!!!
Just as we thought the day was ending, several of us leave the Planche' to walk home while others are finishing play! As we walk, we are approached by two guys, one decked out in shiny red jacket and gold chains. Rodney tells me that this is an addict they have been working with who within the last few weeks has encountered Christ -- his brother brought him at 5am as another team was leaving CR and asked them to pray for him. Now he brings his friend to us in the street. The friend tells us that he wants to come to Jesus, but knows he must make a commitment of himself on his own. He wants us to pray for him -- right there in the street. Now, keep in mind that people are walking the streets, so we are out in the open. We lay hands on this young guy and being to pray, some in English and others in Spanish. Tito joins us and beings to pray in a way that only a guy your own age, who has experienced life here can do. Rodney, then begins to pray in English loud enough for the guys to hear -- he does not speak the language. As our prayer, now mostly in English intensifies, the guy begins to break and weep! I believe that because he could not understand us, God broke in and spoke to him directly. We were out of the way!!! Think of it! REAL street ministry! When was the last time someone brought a friend to you for ministry because of what God was up to in their lives! I believe this young guy will very soon, be a brother of ours (Mi Hermano!)
All I can say is that GOD IS IN OUR MIDST! GOD IS AT WORK! GOD IS DOING A GOD THING!