Day 6 in
Today was our second day with the Renacer team. While we spent yesterday with the street children at the downtown Center, today we hit the streets to feed the most needy. This morning we piled into the bus, loaded up two cars with large coolers full of cooked rice, spaghetti noodles with vegetables, coleslaw, and mango juice, and headed for 8 troubled locations throughout the city of San Jose.
Renacer ministers to the very poorest people in the worst sections of town by providing food once a week. We were privileged to participate with them. The idea is to build trust by way of repetitive servant hood. As people grow to trust this ministry, Renacer can also get to know families and street children who are at the greatest risk and have the greatest need. As the Rehabilitation Center in the mountains will soon be completed in the fall, 10 young at-risk girls have been identified already as the first inhabitants.
We parked the bus in residential streets and while some quickly set up the food line others walked to houses to invite people to come and eat ("vamos a comer!") Young and old men and woman come out of the woodwork (and aluminum) for the free food. We talk with the people and play with the kids. Some places were worse than others. As the day progressed some places made the early stops look almost suburban. Our hearts were touched and broken as we saw such poverty that would be hard to imagine. One conversation was with a grateful man who admitted his problem with drugs and a cry for help. He was introduced to Ron Villalobos, the Renacer director for follow-up. One stop was outside street of "houses of prostitutes"--only they were young girls and boys living alone or with adults that sold them.
Our final stop was at a very emotionally charged stop at the modern equivalent to an lepers' colony. This was a group of homosexuals, all with Aids, that was literally a hovel or cave like dwelling through a hole in an abandoned building. We crept past a room where 3 men recently died of their disease and gathered in a 10x10 room with the men living there. John Pani gave an emotional and powerful testimony. It was a picture and experience that will not soon leave our minds.
God is a work in the hearts of our group. And God is at work in the lives of the people of Costa Rica. Clearly it is a city with pain, poverty and sin--like any other city in the world. It is a hurting and needy world in desperate need of a Savior. How grateful we are for the gift of Salvation we have. May the world continue to hear the Word and see Christ through missions and hearts of servant hood.