Caring in Costa Rica

What comes to mind when you think of Costa Rica? Central America? Volcanoes? Waterfalls? Jungles? Coffee? Before coming here, all I really knew about Costa Rica was that this was the country my son visited and while there took part in a 300+ foot bungee jump!

Sue and I were invited to be a part of a team from Willow Creek Community Church sent to Costa Rica to teach and train pastors and other volunteers some of the basics of counseling. We have been leading workshops at a church in the heart of San Jose.  We have had over 60 attendees at each of our trainings and they have been so hungry to learn and grow. It has been our first experience teaching cross culturally using translators. What a delight it has been.

Yesterday, we visited a church located in one of the poorest communities in the heart of San Jose, Centro Christiano De Alabanza. We were so inspired by their Pastor, Alberto Castro, who believes that the sole purpose of the church is to love and care for each person in their community as if they were Christ himself. Pastor Alberto makes no distinction between parishioners and the people living on the streets. Each individual is someone Jesus cares about and it is his desire to help everyone from the homeless to the elderly. He sees all people as children of God. Everyone matters.

Our first stop was at a shack with tin siding housing over 200 children all waiting to receive their lunch. They were all dressed in donated clothes sitting so responsibly while waiting for their food. As we served these children, we were sobered to realize that poverty and danger are a way of life for these children. If it wasn’t for the services of this spiritual community, these kids would be the next generation of people lost to homelessness, life on the street, drugs, and ultimately death.

Next we visited two shelters where addicts are invited to come and participate in a nine month rehabilitation program at no cost. I was not able to stop crying as my heart broke for each of these people who powerfully shared their stories of drug abuse and survival on the street. Many of these kids were the age of my own children and had been fighting to survive for their whole lives.

Although their struggles are different than mine, I saw how each of us must fight each day to assume responsibility for our lives and the choices we make. Each of us must acknowledge our need, tell the truth about out what we think and how we feel, and reach out to a community greater than ourselves for the support we need to make the most of our lives. It is not so much about where we have come from. The real question is, “What are we doing with the resources we have been entrusted with?”

I am grateful to experience relationships with others who are growing up in a culture very different from my own. It is a privilege to see courageous people living out their faith in ways that are consistent with what they profess to believe. I am inspired, touched, and challenged to refine my understanding of God and the responsibilities I have to fulfill my life mission.

2 Responses to “Caring in Costa Rica”
  1. Mario Bolaños 17 February 2011 at 8:50 am #

    Pastor Rich, thanks once again for all his educations, Im grow a lot of!!
    God bless you, i hope we are in contact

    • Rich Blue 17 February 2011 at 7:16 pm #

      Marlo,

      Me gusto mucho. Pura vida.

      Rich

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Published: 12.02.2011 / 10:44 AM

Category: Spiritual Growth

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