The desire to have the ability to provide for their family is at the heart of every man. For many children, education is a privilege and not always a possibility as they need to leave their studies because of the inability to cover the costs of books, uniforms, etc., as well as for the purpose of pitching in to help put food on the family table. A good example of the entire family pitching in to provide here in Costa Rica is during coffee harvest season. Many make it a family event as they all gather together in their corporate effort to harvest the coffee fruit on their farm or neighboring farms. In our neighborhood alone, there are many families who have their elementary school children by their side participating in the painstaking work of picking coffee – work that includes climbing on and standing upon steep hillsides in the heat of the day and then hauling heavy baskets (canastas) or huge bags up to the collection area.
We have personally known young men and women who come from Nicaragua looking for work for the sole purpose of sending their meager earnings back to their families who are struggling. Coffee harvest time being one of the peak times for this.
Too many people end up on the streets or turning to activities that don’t benefit their lives in their survival mode of providing an income. For those who were unable to finish their education due to the costs or the family burdens, opportunities for steady work are few and far between.
As God does in His sovereign way, a single conversation turned into a way of ministering and serving others while supporting ourselves. Several years ago when we were with a mission group helping out as they ministered to a local neighborhood, several teenage boys were standing off to the side of the open field where the group was teaching a bible story to the younger children and their parents. One of the leaders of the group noticed them and had a desire to get to know the boys more. That’s when he approached us to ask for help in going and speaking to the young men. After a little bit of getting to know each other, he asked the young men one question: “What do you guys need?”. To his amazement, as well as ours, they all said without hesitation, “Jobs”. That was it – right then – here we are among these young men who want nothing more than to find work. There has got to be a way to provide work for them. Even more than that, there has got to be a way to not only provide for them in the physical need that they had, but also for them spiritually in a way they didn’t know they were lacking. It was at that point that we knew God was leading us in our ‘tent-maker‘ role to use what we were familiar with doing prior to our arrival in Costa Rica, remodeling and building homes, to move forward in earning our way yet also providing for those in need of jobs while training them up in the ways of the Lord at the same time.
That was when our ‘Work Discipleship Program‘ began. Building homes using the talent of our good friend with 30 years experience in construction combined with our knowledge and skills, we have begun our first project in the Central Valley, employing several young men in all aspects of the building project.
Just as Aquila and Priscilla were willing to invest the time necessary to take one young man under their spiritual care and pour into his life the things of Christ, we strive to do the same thing with our Work Discipleship Program. Working side by side with young men to train them to be tent-makers, our goal is to teach them the truth of God as we labor together making it a part of both our life and ministry. And as a result of this time, just as with Aquila and Priscilla, our prayer is that each laborer may become an effective servant of God (1 Cor. 1:12).
“The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:8-9
Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.” Deuteronomy 24:14