Dear friends in ministry,
He looked about 10 years old, with short curly hair that I wanted to run my fingers through. I had been told that he had no eyes, but it seemed as if he just had them closed.His mother leaned close to him where he was seated on the couch and spoke loudly, "Jason, doña Josefa and doña Ruth have come to visit you."He made some noises and what looked like a spasmodic jerking, which his mother said indicated that he was happy to see us. He was actually 16 years old, and severely disabled from birth. My friend Josefa, his teacher, had invited me to accompany her on this home visit an hour from San José. Jason was learning to walk, and to feed himself, a difficult process not only to hold the spoon, but to chew and swallow. He was intellectually at a preschool level.While Josefa worked with Jason, I talked with the mother, Yamileth. She explained to me that she had contracted German measles when she was 3 months pregnant, along with 2 other mothers in their town, all of who gave birth to severely handicapped children.I listened to her heart-wrenching story of how she and her husband had moved from disbelief to rejection and anger to acceptance, and how their faith had carried them through these difficult years. Their love for Jason was evident to the casual observer, and she said to me, "He is a blessing from God. But I haven't always felt this way. It has been a process."She took us to visit the other 2 families, and in each home, I was overwhelmed by the welcome we received. One family consisted of a single mother and an aggressive, violent girl who had received NO therapy or teaching in all her 16 years. I realized how isolated the families feel, so that this weekly visit from Josefa is their lifeline.She is a life-giving God-presence to them.
I first met Josefa within months of arriving to Costa Rica 6 years ago, and those of you who have followed my ministry here will remember that she worked with me in teacher training workshops for a number of years. She is a psychologist and worked in Nicaragua with children psychologically damaged by the war. But when she arrived to Costa Rica, her degree was not accepted, and so she spent years selling books, making pastries, and being frustrated that her passion and her calling were being wasted.When this opportunity opened up, to teach disabled children in home visits, she grabbed it.As I watched her work with these children and their families, showing such compassion, insight, and skill, I gave thanks to God for this significant ministry that fully uses all her training and her energies.
Working with the Baptists here in Costa Rica has been a constant source of inspiration for me. They take very seriously the call to proclaim new life in word and deed. On Friday our women's group at church honored the members who are working in a prison ministry, some of them for over 16 years.We are now accustomed to seeing swarms of kids at the church from the state orphanage; they are invited to Sunday school/worship and then spend the afternoon (and Sunday dinner) with different families of the congregation.One member was concerned about struggling families in the neighborhood around the church, so he started a series of workshops for improving communication skills.
I preached today on Matthew 25.14-30, the parable of the talents, in which Jesus calls each of us to discover our gifts and our passion, then invest them fully in advancing God's Reign, in serving others in Jesus' name. I think the word from God is: Follow your passion and dare to launch something new if you feel God is calling you to it.Invest your abilities, time and money in God's Reign, because they will be multiplied in blessings to you and others.
In Christ's name,