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VB Ministers in Costa Rica
This past week (August 1-8) ten players from the CCC volleyball team along with Coaches Vickie and Lou Denny travelled to San Jose, Costa Rica to minister to a group of teenage girls ages 12-17 who have been involved in drugs and prostitution on the streets of Costa Rica. Many of these young ladies have been used in sex trafficking, a common practice in Costa Rica. Renacer (meaning “rebirth”) is a Christian street rehabilitation program for teenage girls and is located in the mountains about 30 minutes from the city. It gives by sharing the gospel, teaching life skills, and loving on these abused girls. The results are amazing.
Upon arriving at Renacer, the team immediately saw a group of young women who radiated with joy. “It was nothing like we expected,” commented team captain, senior Emma Kile. “We thought we would see hardened, tough girls, but we experienced just the opposite. We saw teenage girls with hope in their eyes and love in their hearts.” Many girls come to Renacer without knowledge of Christ, but most make a decision for Him before they leave the year-long program. “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away and behold all things have become new.” (II Cor 5:17 ) The outreach of Renacer is very unique because while it receives some funding from the government, they are still allowed to share the gospel and teach the Bible. Due to the rate of successful intervention, about 70% of the girls that leave Renacer after completing the rehabilitation program never return to the streets. Sunshine Loveland, coordinator of the Christian educational program at Renacer and host to the CCC team, attributes all of the success to God’s grace and mercy.
Each morning before breakfast, the volleyball team met with the girls of Renacer for devotions and singing. The teenagers were very respectful and receptive during this time as different players shared their testimonies. During their own team devotions, Coach Denny emphasized the sovereignty of God and our response by worshiping God using Romans 11:33- 12:2. The team also spent time each morning alone studying scripture and praying for the girls and the day’s activities. Two mornings were spent teaching a volleyball clinic to the girls on an outside court. Since soccer is the premiere sport in Costa Rica, volleyball was a new and exciting activity for many of the young ladies. After lunch, the team continued to minister through indoor craft activities and personal, one-on-one interaction. Despite the language barrier, the team and the girls were able to interact and understand one another. Discovering that love truly is an international language was one of the highlights of the trip.
During two of the afternoons, the CCC team left Renacer to travel down the mountain to San Jose to play volleyball matches against university teams. They played excellent competition, had the opportunity to share the gospel, and saw players make decisions for Christ. According to Coach Lou Denny, “One of the things that impressed me most about during our volleyball matches
was the commitment of our Christian hosts to pray during the match and then allow us to present the gospel after the match. I was also impressed with the fact that with every decision that was made, a card was filled out, and a follow up would be done by the Christian organization on the university campus.”
On Friday, the Clearwater team put together a field day for the girls at Renacer. In the afternoon, the team presented the Wordless book and helped each girl make a colored bracelet that signified the colors of the gospel. Several of the girls gave testimony to God’s grace in their own lives in front of their peers and showed a great love for God and a desire to live for Him. Richelle Bucklin remarked, “To think that these same girls, just a few months ago, were dealing in drugs, using drugs and/or prostituting themselves was an incredible picture of God’s grace and mercy.” Amanda Bucklin added, “The verse that states, ‘where sin abounds, grace much more abounds’ means so much more to me now.” Later that night, the team and the Renacer girls met together for a big talent show. While the Clearwater team did several funny skits and songs, the Renacer girls chose to use the evening to sing praise to God and do a drama that conveyed how God had brought them out of darkness into light. It was a very moving to see how God had truly changed the lives of these girls forever.
Saturday marked departure day. After a time of fun table games, the team presented a gift bag to each girl and gathered once more to sing, play silly games, and say goodbyes. Despite the highly emotional goodbyes, the team was reminded that although they would soon be apart, the God in the States is the same God in Costa Rica.
According to Coach Denny, “While I have taken several teams on different types of mission trips, this one was unique because we got to stay with the same girls all week and really build relationships. That was really special. Our goal is to continue this bond we have made by doing a special project for these young women every month for the next year. God has impacted the girls at Renacer, and the girls at Renacer have impacted us. We will never be the same because of this year’s mission trip to Costa Rica.”
Thanks to everyone who prayed for the team and also for those who financially helped them make this trip. It really did reap eternal benefits.
Click on the following link for more photos from the trip:
Photo Gallery/Team Costa Rica 2011
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