What a year of blessings this has been! Meeting so many wonderful people traveling through the States, the overwhelming response of generosity when in March, International Ministries challenged us to raise our own salary support, and my joyous return to Costa Rica the end of July. At the Latin American Biblical University where I am now teaching, I am amazed by the daily opportunities for ministry.
For Christmas, Costa Ricans display beautiful and creative Nativity scenes, carefully adding baby Jesus to the manger on Christmas Eve, when they have a midnight feast to welcome his coming. The nativity figures in the picture were made from corn husks in El Salvador. Everywhere people are becoming more aware of the need to reuse and transform what was formerly regarded as trash, and Christians especially are conscious of our responsibility to care for the world created by the One we worship and serve.
Isn’t the message of Christmas that God doesn’t see any thing or person as trash? Even those who seem to have messed up their lives, and harmed or been harmed by those around them, can be part of God’s “recycling project”, transforming them into reflections of God’s grace.
At the Latin American Biblical University (UBL), I’m currently teaching a recycling class, called Introduction to Christian Education. I have a group of 11 students, 10 women and 1 man, representing Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru, and Nicaragua, including Methodist, Pentecostal, Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian, and ranging in age from 23 to 59. Each one of them has a story to tell of how God gave them a second chance, and called them into ministry. Survivors of cancer, rape, disabilities, and poverty, they are deeply committed to proclaiming God’s transforming love. Some pastor churches, others work with terminally ill patients, several with abused women and rape victims, many with families in crisis.
My job is to give them tools to teach, to help those they serve analyze and change their situations in the light of God’s presence in their lives. They are delightfully eager to learn, soaking everything in and applying it instantly to their ministry context. It has been an exciting experience for all of us.
If you would like to see pictures of the UBL, go to http://www.unibiblica.net/
A joyous Christmas to you,