Music Mission Trip to Costa Rica
GTM Ministries were able to complete a music mission trip to Costa Rica earlier this month, with the extraordinary high school choir from Coram Deo Academy in Dallas, TX. We made it there just in time before the virus would have kept us from traveling, and so grateful for God's timing and providence in all of this. In the middle of the trip, Toby Oaks (Dean of schools) posted a blog to their school's website, and he gave us the honor of posting his thoughts here as well:
Our school was looking for a missions opportunity for our choir programs that we could partner with to utilize both music and intentional outreach. From the beginning to the middle to the end of the process, we enjoyed working with Hanne. Not only did she walk alongside us, but ending up connecting us with a national run ministry that would help us to maximize the impact of our time there. We would heartily recommend the ministry of GTM and would commend Hanne, as well.
We began the morning hearing from Pastor Walter as he described in more detail the ministry of Camp Brittney, a ministry run by a small handful of Costa Ricans committed to the care of underprivileged students during the summer months (in addition to other initiatives, including pastoral training). After a time of prayer and reflection, we took a break from our full ministry schedule to get out on a hike in the isolated but beautiful hills just a few miles from our location. After lunch, some of the students capped off the time by enjoying swimming at the pool before preparing for the night of ministry.
Our ministry site this time was a small town named Sarchi, about an hour from camp. Our concert this night was at "Pan De Vida" church with Pastor Ronald, a bi-vocational pastor who has been serving there for several years. We wanted to give the students some time to decompress and also prepare, but Petra, Vivi and Alyssa were pretty motivated to go out in one of our two teams (along with some of the chaperones and Pastor Ronald) to invite people to the evening event. Shortly after we all ate dinner, and before the concert, Eloy, a Costa Rican who had been invited by one of the groups, came to the church and was sitting and talking to Pastor Ronald. Pastor Ronald needed to step away for a moment, and so there was an opportunity to get to know Eloy. He opened up about how he could never be forgiven for his sin, but he could not understand why he still came to the concert. After a long discussion, he came to understand how Christ came for sinners--not for "perfect" people. As he surrendered his life to Christ and embraced the reality of God's forgiveness, his countenance completely changed. But that was only the beginning.
Pastor Walter encouraged him to walk into the church, and we were close by to enourage him. The students began to sing of God's hope. Louise again spoke, this time slightly tweaking her message in a way that helped Eloy understand more the depth of God's love and forgiveness. Max In Spanish, shared God's heart for the lost sheep. Yumi shared her own story of how God had gotten a hold of her life. The joy with which ALL the students sang resonated with the mostly filled church. Pastor Ronald followed up the time sharing again the hope of Christ, and Eloy again reaffirmed his desire to follow Him. After the concert, Petra and Maggie came up immediately to encourage Eloy, in addition to some words from Max and Carson. We made a point to then connect Eloy to some of the other believers there, and lastly (and most importantly), to Pastor Ronald, who warmly talked with him and made it a point that he would love to see him this upcoming Saturday and Sunday.
I don't believe the point of all this was lost this evening: what we are doing here is so much more than just about music. These students are sharing the joy and hope and forgiveness of Christ through song, word and deed (and their own joy), but thanks to our partner ministry, "Gospel Through Music" (GTM), we are able to do it all through local ministries (like Camp Brittney) and churches (like Pan de Vida) who are in turn connecting with the visitors or new believers.
On a side note, out of a desire to be extra cautious, we decided not to go into the more highly populated market areas. However, we found out that Pastor Ronald as a bi-vocational pastor was the manager of a gift shop...so after the concert, he opened up the store just for us to pick up some items and souvenirs to commerate our time. It was an extra special little detail that was a great way to cap off the day!
I want to encourage you with these words as we are all facing some pretty chaotic situations around the world (and even in our own backyard, Frisco): God is at work here in Costa Rica, and is using your students. They are all doing well and seeing a glimpse of how God is working behind the scenes to touch lives in uncertain times.
It has been quite a phenomenal mission trip thus far. We will wrap up our low-key but focused ministry activities tomorrow (Thursday) and then will pursue a nature outing on Friday before heading out. I really believe that students, chaperones and our ministry partners here in Costa Rica will look back on these daus together as significant for what God has done here. Thank you for your prayers!
Toby Oaks CDA Dean of Schools