Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ramblings - Building Bridges

Rain, rain, go away! While many of you are experiencing a drought, we've had an unbelievable amount of rainfall. So much so that it's causing flash-floods and mud-slides. These natural disasters have closed roads, destroyed homes, and taken lives.

It’s incredible that trickling streams grow to raging rivers in a matter of minutes. These rivers rush down the mountainside with an unstoppable rage and fury destroying everything in their path. One neighborhood, not too far from my house, experienced severe flooding. Many homes had three feet of standing water, while others were torn in half, or completely washed away!

In another area one of these swollen rivers destroyed a bridge. It was a small bridge and almost appeared insignificant, that is unless you live in Jasmine. Jasmine is a small community nestled on the side of the mountain. Most of the residents are squatters living in shanties; and it’s one of the most impoverished areas in all of Alajuelita. There is only one road leading in and out, so with the bridge out it’s inaccessible for emergency vehicles. Therefore, it’s not only inconvenient for the residents; it’s a potentially dangerous situation.

To make matters worse the local government claimed they didn't have the money to repair the bridge. I believe this was a half-truth…they may not have the money on hand, but I'm convinced it also had to do with the fact that the people of Jasmine are not a high priority. I'm sure that if some of the other bridges around town had been washed out, they would have come up with the money to make the repairs.

However, where man fails - God succeeds! The people of Jasmine may not be a high priority to the local government, but God loves these people and demonstrated it clearly through His divine provision. He used CCA Church, one of the largest local churches, to take on and coordinate the repair project. He used a team of professional Traveling Tradesmen from Boston to come and build the bridge. He used 6:8 Ministries to provide lodging and meals for the team free of charge. It’s amazing to witness God working all things together!

The project drew the attention of local media, and soon local news teams were on the site to cover the story. It’s a great human interest story, but it makes no sense unless you include the word love. Why else would this group sacrifice their time and money to build a bridge for a group of impoverished people that live over a thousand of miles away? Why would they work long days in a dirty river for people they didn't even know? The only possible answer to these questions is LOVE. For many years people have been using the “bridge illustration” to explain basic truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, now I have another bridge illustration. One that reveals the power and beauty of the gospel lived out. It’s important for us to understand Christ’s work of the cross so that we can be in a relationship with God. However, we also need to remember what we are called to do once we cross that bridge. Professing our faith in Christ is not the end of our spiritual journey; it’s really just the beginning. In many ways it's easier to believe in Christ, than it is to truly follow Him, especially when it requires personal sacrifice.
This past week I witnessed a team of men and women accept the challenge to follow Christ, and it led them to sacrificially loving some of the “least of these”. Watching this take place, I was reminded how the gospel empowers us to build bridges of love. The ability to love others regardless of race, gender, religions and denominations, economic status, and nationality. It’s easy to love those who love us, but when we build bridges, and love those who don't expect or “deserve” our love in return, we are truly living out the gospel.

In closing, I want to thank you for all your prayers and support. God is using them to expand and strengthen His kingdom. We are honored and humbled to be part of what He is doing in and through us here in Alajuelita.

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14

*photos by Nick Wisda