We came home from the orphanage, a little different than when we left. There were a couple of fellows playing guitars and singing in the living room and I sat down and let the joy in their voices lift me up. It is so special, being in a place where God is being glorified, 24/7 in words, deeds and singing. I love that people walk around with guitars on their backs and whenever the opportunity arises, they sing praises to The Lord. I know we could do this at home, why don’t we? I remember the words Kathryn spoke to me the morning before, when I was denying my ability to sing and she said, “This isn’t a talent contest.” How very true. As we sat lifting our voices to the Lord, no one cared what key we were in or if we knew all the words to the song. What was so special was the love that was rising up from our hearts. I know God wasn’t judging us; why do we judge ourselves and each other?
Our leader, Cal, came over and was asking me about our afternoon. I shared with him how the children had impacted us, how much fun we had playing with them, how special our time was there. He asked me to give the message that evening at another of the local churches. To share my day, my thoughts on Costa Rica with them.
By this point, I wasn’t even surprised to be giving a message with an hour notice. I smiled and said, “I’d love to!” And I meant it. Again, I was learning that it wasn’t a three point sermon these people needed, but rather a message of love and hope. And for me, that comes naturally. I have been sharing the love and hope of Jesus since the day God broke the chains that had been holding me in bondage for so many years.
Tonight our team was Reece, Kathryn, Tammy, Daniel and myself. Nancy’s feet were giving her problems, so she had to spend the night in bed, with her feet propped up, so that the swelling would go down. She was sad she could not come with us and we were sad she was going to miss the fun.
Two or three other teams headed to other churches. The love of Jesus was going to be shared throughout the city.
Pastor Ricardo came and picked us up and we headed through the dark streets of Puntarenas. It was interesting that the Pastor’s always drove us, they didn’t have something come pick us up, they came themselves.
When we arrived at his church, the worship was just beginning. There were three women on the platform, their faces raised in worship to their King. We made our way in to some seats in the front, put down our things and joined in the celebration. Within minutes, the spirit of the Lord was felt around us. As I looked around the room, I saw the radiance of the Lord on the faces of his people. We couldn’t understand the words, but the language was once more, Love!
After singing several songs, there was a dance performance. Half a dozen young girls performed a flag and veil dance, it was so beautiful; worship in its purest form. The faces of the young girls concentrating on their movements, yet definitely in tune with his Spirit within. They were dressed in pink and white, with yellow veils and white flags. As they danced and twirled, my heart sang with joy with them. They drew us into worship; the spirit was thick in that place.
Then Reece went up to give his message. God had given him a message and he delivered it with sincerity and love. It was his first sermon .. but it surely won’t be his last. He did a wonderful job of delivering the words of encouragement and love that God had placed on his heart. Daniel translated for him, and several times, the words from Reece brought an amen from Daniel. That was cute. Then he’d share with his fellow Costa Ricans what Reece had said.
After Reece delivered his message, it was my turn. As I looked around the room, I saw many children. This was a good message for this group. Mark 10:13-16:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
I shared some stories from the orphanage and then explained that Jesus took time for the children. Jesus loved the children, he actually laid hands on them and blessed them. That we have a responsibility to the children, all the children. The children in our homes and the children in the orphanages. I also shared the story of Domingo, the man who received the healing of Jesus in the hospital, when he was dying. How he received Jesus into his heart as his savior first and then the healing came.
It was a sweet message and Daniel did a wonderful job of translating it to these special people … from my heart to his heart to their hearts. When we gave an altar call for prayer, the church surged forward. I prayed for several people for healing, then two young boys caught my eye. They were probably eight and ten and I couldn’t help but think of Carson and Chase, just a few years back. As I laid my hands on their heads, blessings from The Lord poured upon them. I felt like God wanted me to bless all the children, give them all a word of encouragement, so I asked Daniel to relay this message and soon we had a line of children in front of us, waiting for their blessing.
It was so sweet, their innocent little faces, just wanting a word from the Lord. As I knelt down and looked into their eyes, my heart was encouraged. These children had hope. Daniel translated as I gave them words of encouragement. Words stick in our souls, so many times words hurt and destroy. But tonight, I wanted my words to lift up, encourage and bring hope to these sweet children. I wanted Daniel to translate for them, because I wanted them to know what a good plan God had for them.
At the end of the line was a young girl who once I started hugging, would not let go. I found out her name, Rachel, but it was hard for her to share with us what was causing her so much pain, as her body heaved with sobs. Finally, she could talk a bit and she shared that she had diabetes, she had to take four insulin shots each day. There were some other issues, but they were unspoken, God knew her needs as we prayed together.
I encouraged her to come to the Woman’s Conference the next morning … I knew I needed to see her again. That she needed something more. She agreed to come and reluctantly left us that evening. Her tender smile kept replaying in my heart. What was going on inside that beautiful young girl’s mind? What was the pain that she was afraid to share?
Pastor Ricardo had prepared a special treat for us. Ice Cream Sundae’s with fresh peaches and chocolate sauce. This was the first ice cream we had seen in Costa Rica. Apparently sweets are not a big deal to them. Their diet is quite healthy. And we know that moderation is important, in all areas, but I have to confess, that ice cream sundae tasted wonderful!
The six of us sat at a table covered with a lace tablecloth, eating our sundaes and listening to Pastor Ricardo’s story. He had lived in the states for a time, in Texas. He was part of a large ministry and doing well. But his heart was for his homeland, his people in Costa Rica. So he gave up The American Dream, and came back to his homeland to share the gospel of Jesus with the hurting hearts of Puntarenas. Interesting … he had the opportunity to not be here, but this was the place he chose to serve God.
We piled back into his van and off through the streets we drove. Several of the pastors were holding a prayer vigil that evening, for the big FIESTA coming up the next night. A huge evangelistic event to win souls for Jesus. It was the event that we had been building up to all week, there would be many famous groups singing and a large turnout was expected. A good portion of the town would be at this event. And these mighty men of God knew that without the Power of the Holy Spirit, it would be for naught. So they were going to march down the streets of Puntarenas, to the stadium, covering each step with the power of His Spirit, the blood of Jesus.
We were going back to our house, a full day of ministry had worn us out and we had two big events the next day. The Women’s Conference at 10:00 am and the Gran Fiesta at 5:00 pm and if we had a chance, the boys orphanage in between. So … it was time for rest.
But once we got back to the house, four of us ended up back in our room, sharing stories to the wee hours. It seemed like all we wanted to talk about was JESUS, and how special he was in our lives. And it was good to get connected to our other team members. Stephanie was our youngest team member at twenty and she was such a joy to be with. Her love for Jesus, teamed with her youthful innocence was a breath of fresh air. Henriette sang like an angel and listening to her tell her story of how she ended up on this team touched my heart. Miss Nancy, was still in bed with her legs propped up, but we shared our nights with her and she shared parts of her life with us. Finally it was time to sleep …. Morning would come quickly and with it … new adventures, new opportunities to see God’s hand at work; through us and in us.
I believe when you expect to see God work, He will. I think sometimes we don’t truly trust that God is going to work on our behalf, and I’m not sure that some faith is what God is looking for.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
It’s only been three days ago that I left Naples, yet I’ve experienced a lifetime of blessings, seeing God at work here in this beautiful country of Costa Rica. I am in awe as I fade off to sleep.
Father, thank you for allowing me to see the children as you see them. Thank you for the blessings you gave to them. I pray your words sink into their souls and they remember them and live them out. Father, thank you for the amazing opportunity to serve you in this place, through these people. Thank you for your agape love, which is spoken in every language.
I love you Jesus!
In Your Name I Pray,
God Bless You!