Unreached People Groups School
At the beginning of the year Nicole and I began a short 6 week seminar that focuses on unreached people groups. Although we cannot reveal the name of the school due to security reasons we have had an INCREDIBLE 6 weeks in this school. Last week, we graduated and celebrated by going out to some mediterranean food. God used these six weeks to create a time to pray into what He has for us in the unreached part of the world. We knew that He had spoken to us, but this was the first time we could be intentional about praying and learning about these unreached people groups. Throughout the whole school we had teachers who had actual experience being missionaries on the field in these places. It was amazing to hear the testimonies of Latino missionaries who had spent time (or are currently) in these hard to reach nations. I felt honored to listen to them and be able to ask questions. One of the greatest privileges was when one of the missionary couples brought in their two oldest daughters for us to interview. The mother told us “ask them whatever you want, there are no family secrets, we want you all to learn from our mistakes.” For 3 hours we asked these two girls, 19 and 16 years old, to tell us what it has been like for them growing up as missionary kids all over the world. They were brutally honest, and shared all the difficult things they went through not just with their family but with God. One of them had at one point fully rejected God, and both had gone through feelings of hating God for leading their family into missions. The most amazing part was the testimony of redemption and the journey of each of these girls coming back to their Creator. To see that even now they can both look back and both say, “I would never trade those experiences for anything.” It really humbled me and we were able to learn countless things from the many mistakes and victories that this couple had during their time raising children on the mission field.
Over all, the school was a huge success. God spoke to us and has given us more direction. Now we are asking God for new strategies and specifics into what He wants us to actually do when we eventually go over to those parts of the world.
Board of Trustees Meetings
This past weekend Nicole and I were privileged to be a part of the YWAM San Jose Board of Trustees meetings which took place Friday through Sunday. Our base leadership had invited us to take part and listen to the meetings to help grow us and learn what missions looks like on the legal side of things. It was an eye-opening weekend seeing all of the legal loopholes that have to be jumped through by volunteer organizations in Costa Rica. We had YWAM leaders from all over Central America take part in these meetings as well as local pastors and businessmen from the States. It was such a gift to be able to learn the ins-and-outs of how a board meeting works. I am learning more and more that leadership has a lot to do with implicational thinking, and it’s something I am learning to do. How to ask critical questions, learning how to think through the implications of certain actions or decisions that we often just make, not thinking of what it could affect.
One of the cool parts of the weekend was being able to show the out of town people the different ministries we do. Besides the presentations we showed them of each ministry, we were actually able to visit a community where we have built 29 homes. Although this past weekend was long and full of activities, it was an invaluable experience that Nicole and I will be able to take with us the rest of our lives, and in the future as we begin new ministries around the world.
A few weekends ago we had National Bible Distribution Day in San Francisco, Costa Rica. It was an amazing weekend where we distributed Bibles to over 1700 homes. I always used to be weirded out by the idea of going up to someone’s doorstep to give them a free Bible. After actually having done it, I continually get blown away by the warm reception we so often receive from the Costa Rican people. I have seen people weep when we give them a Bible, one lady had never had her own Bible in her life and she was 80 years old! Other people open up their front doors and invite us in for coffee and food, earnestly asking us to pray for them and their loved ones. It is such a privilege to be able to bring the good news of Jesus straight to people’s doorsteps. Not everyone wants to talk, and thats okay, we always respectfully thank them and leave them the Bible and go on to the next house. Since 2010, we have distributed over 100,000 Bibles, and still need to reach around 1 million more homes. The goal is to do it by 2017, we are believing it’s possible and that the word of God alone can transform nations!
One of the big roles we now have on base is helping pioneer the new staff development department. This department was created out of the need we saw with discipleship of staff once they have left student roles and come into a staff position with YWAM San Jose. The goal is to be able to intentionally challenge and promote the growth of the staff in all areas of their life and to maintain spiritual, mental, and emotional wellness of the staff individually and with one another. With a YWAM base of more than 70 full time staff it can be pretty easy for people to fall through the cracks and get forgotten and not cared for. One of the goals of this department is to create events that can help promote the family atmosphere of the base. Our first event was this month in which we set up a big barbecue up at the base directors property. We bought over 50 pounds of meat, along with snacks and soda. There was no agenda except for hanging out, having fun and celebrating the awesome family God has given us in San Jose. Nicole and I are firm believers that we serve a God who loves parties and desires for us to celebrate the awesome freedom He has given us!
Ecclesiasites 3:12-13 “I know there is nothing better for us than to be joyful and to do good throughout our lives; to eat and drink and see the good in all of our hard work is a gift from God.”
One of the new roles I am stepping into now that the school is over is “Circle Leader of Critical Services.” When I was first approached about taking up this responsibility I was hesitant. Do I really want to lead out an entire base’s logistical area? That sounds like a lot of work! On top of that I have never liked being in a position of title or leadership, I have always loved being able to provide relational leadership without needing a “title.” But as I prayed about this I felt the Lord speaking to me “I want you to break out of your box and learn how to lead even when there is a title over you.” So I said yes, and now I am serving the people in the Critical Services Circle. What is in this area you ask? It is oversight of Transportation (vehicles), Kitchen, Housing, Housekeeping, Hospitality, and Maintenance. It includes the most critical logistical areas of the base and I have been blessed with incredible people leading out these departments. I am very excited to have the opportunity to serve and pour into them, as well as make the base a place that runs well and can serve the various ministries and schools we run.
A really cool opportunity arose in the past few months through the connection with our local church “El Olivo.” As many of you know we have now been going to and serving in this local church for about 2 years. Recently we were approached by Freedom Street about helping possibly open a door for a new ministry center. Freedom Street Ministries is the ministry that Nicole and I worked in for a few years at the beginning of our time in YWAM. Freedom Street goes out to the streets of San Jose to reach out to the people being prostituted and trafficked, showing them love and bringing them freedom through a relationship with God. They have been searching for a place to open up a coffee shop to be able to disciple and work with the people they are meeting on the streets. After talking with our church leadership we were able to connect them with Carlos and Sidney (the leaders of Freedom Street) to possibly use the church facilities as a ministry center. Well now after a few months of figuring everything out they have been given the keys to the church and Freedom Street now has a place they can invite the people from the streets to do English classes, Bible studies, and just have a general meeting place to minister to the people who have been prostituted. We are so incredibly grateful to have been able to be a connection between an amazing ministry and a local church that can now work together to bring a change to this massive social problem.
We just want to thank all of our supporters for believing in what we are doing. Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your finances, thank you for your encouragement. We are more than privileged to be your hands and feet in Costa Rica, but most importantly God’s. Please continue to keep us updated on your lives as well! With much Love,
Ryan and Nicole
P.S. For those of you who have ever played UNO, Nicole and I were at a birthday party yesterday and found this. I couldn’t stop laughing and wanted to share it with you all. Have a good week!!