Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ramblings - Praise Him!

We've made it through another busy summer, and as I reflect upon it one word comes to mind...praise! I find myself unable to fully declare the praise God deserves. He has done so many great things in and through 6:8 Ministries, that it would be impossible to list them all. However, that being said here, is my feeble attempt to boast upon my God and the great things He has done so far this year! Please celebrate and praise Him with me....

Mission Teams -

Since May, God has allowed us to host 224 team members from 22 mission teams, representing 18 different churches, from 9 different states. That is 224 believers challenged and inspired to live for Christ with reckless abandon.

This summer alone God used the mission teams to...
medically treat and prescribe free medicines to over 3,500 people;
construct 6 new homes, and 4 new chicken coops;
paint or remodel 8 houses, 2 schools, 1 park, 2 community centers, and 1 church;
teach English to hundreds of children in 3 different elementary schools;
conduct 4 Vacation Bible Schools and 2 soccer camps;
deliver clothing, food, wheelchairs, and diapers to dozens of needy families;
plant a garden for an orphanage, feed five orphans, serve hundreds of meals to the homeless; and pray with countless local people in Costa Rica and Guatemala.

New Staff -
God has brought new staff members to 6:8 Ministries. Omar and Bonnie Bravo have committed to serve with 6:8 Ministries. They will be serving alongside Dave and Leisa DeVaney in Costa Rica. Omar will oversee operations while Dave oversees teams. Amy Mikul has committed to serve with 6:8 Ministries in Guatemala. God has also brought four other families that are prayerfully considering about serving with 6:8 Ministries.

New Ministry Opportunities -
Thanks be to God that the Guatemala expansion is up and running. This expansion has already provided many new ministry opportunities. God has allowed us to build working relationships with a thriving local ministry, a local orphanage, a children's art school, a Downs Syndrome school, a clean water project, a house building ministry, and much more.

New Team House -
God has provided a new team house in Guatemala. It's going to be a great tool for His use and glory for years to come.

Purchase of the staff house -
God has provided the funding for us to purchase the Staff house in Costa Rica! We are currently renting the staff house. However this purchase will not only save the ministry money, but will also secure the use of the facility.

New Church Plant -
God has used this ministry to help start a new church plant in Costa Rica. Celebration Church of Costa Rica is reaching a segment of people that no other church is reaching. Each week drunks, drug addicts, prostitutes, and homeless, stumble in to hear a message of love and grace. God is radically changing lives through His new church plant.

New Feeding Center -
God has provided the funding to start a new soup kitchen / feeding center this fall!

As I said before, I could go on and on about the great things God has done...and is doing. We are humbled and honored that He allows us to be part of it. We completely recognize that He is working and He alone deserves all the glory and credit. I echo the psalmist as he writes...

Praise the Lord
Give thanks to the Lord,
for His love endures forever.
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or
fully declare His praise?
Psalm 106:1-2

Amazed and full of praise,


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gunshots and Hotdogs

copied from Omar's daily blog. Go HERE to see the original post. Go HERE to see Omar's blog.

First thing today, the team split up: Half of us went to deliver food (rice, beans, salt, sugar, spaghetti, etc) to a family in Jasmine the rest of us went to deliver food to two families in Juan Pablo. After that, we headed down to Aurora to visit Jose Antonio (the little boy with mental disabilities). He continues to do so much better!! This boy (who is 6 years old) couldn’t walk 9 months ago, and now he is walking and on the verge of speaking!!

While at Jose Antonio’s house, the neighbor’s across the alley (a little old lady) asked me if we were there to pray. When I told her “yes”, she asked me if we could come pray in her house as well! Talk about a testament to what she has seen prayer do in her neighbors lives! It turns out that the lady had just had an operation on her eyes and her husband was bed-ridden from a leg injury about four years ago. Thus, we prayed over them and their house and then one of the doctors taught the old man a couple of exercises that he could do to undo the atrophy in his leg and increase the blood flow to his foot.

On our way out of the neighborhood, we stopped by Maria’s house (who used to be a witch, but has now given her life to Christ) and we delivered our last load of food. While there, a young boy asked me for the cross I wear around my wrist… I gave it do him, of course. This is the third cross someone has asked for off of my wrist… Two here in Costa Rica, and one waitress in Florida.

Now, on to the “gun shots and hot dogs”…

After lunch, we took the team to the houses (shanti’s) down by the river. This is probably the roughest neighborhood we go into, even though we’ve never had anything bad happen. So, we headed down to the dead end street where we go with almost every team and handed out over 100 hot dogs, cookies, chips, pencils, tracts, and bubbles. We also had a great time jumping rope with the kids and adults alike. Even the local drug dealers came by and got a bite.

Once it was time to go, I rolled up the jump rope, we handed out the last of the bubbles and pencils, and began to walk out. As we were about half down the dead end street, a couple of the women came running after us…

“Wait, wait… There are some guys waiting for you at the end of the street! My husband heard them saying that they were going to be waiting for your group so that they could assault you!”

As I’m always bringing up the rear of the group, I quickly called the group back. As soon as I explained the situation, the woman said that her husband went ahead of us to be our escort. Two seconds later, “Bang! Bang!” Two gunshots rang out ahead of us down the street.

At that point, the crowd of women and children surrounding us said that the “coast was clear” and that we should continue on down the street. Not knowing what to do and aware that there was only one way in and out of this neighborhood, I simply told the group “start praying, we gotta go”. And so, escorted by a short portly woman and a gay man as our body guards, we headed out of the neighborhood.

It turns out that the gunshots came from the woman’s husband in an attempt to scare off the hoodlums who were planning to mug us. Nonetheless, the woman (with a rock in each hand, hidden behind her back) and the gay guy (with a couple of rocks in a grocery bag) escorted us out of the neighborhood all the way to the main street and the bus stop… No harm, no foul, though we were all a bit shaken up. On our way out, one of the hoodlums yelled at the team: “We want your money, you son-of-a-b#&*h!” One of the young boys who was walking with us remarked to me “Some people have no respect.”

What really amazed me today was how the community came together and actually stood up and surrounded us in this situation. What was the most ironic and humbling though was the action of the gay gentlemen who led us out of the neighborhood… In the Church today, I think that the gay population is the most shunned and persecuted demographic of all. Yet, when we were between a rock and a hard place, it was this man who stood up for the group of Christians. He could have very easily turned his back on us and allowed us to fend for ourselves, but he didn’t. And that, my friends, is the most accurate immitation of Jesus Christ and His love that I have seen all week. Jesus Christ shows up in different forms everyday in our lives; today, he was embodied as a gay man with a grocery bag full of rocks. For that, I am so very grateful.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Come As You Are

The following was copied from bloggingmolly...

While we did not come down to plant a church, God has provided a church. After sending several short-term mission teams down, Celebration Church felt called to plant a church in Alajuelita. Or rather BE the church for the homeless, rejected, alcoholics, and brokenhearted.

Here is a glimpse of what a Sunday morning might look like:

Promising faces...

A broken face the needs minor medical attention...

Rejected men crying out to Jesus...

Praying for healing of a sick baby...

A man taking a moment to read his new Bible...

One of the most beautiful moments was when Jorge asked if anyone wanted to pray. Among others, a shirtless man made his way down to pray. The heartbeat of this church is to be a place where even he feels welcomed and loved. It is going to be messy. But I firmly believe that Jesus loves the messy.