The congregation at Escazu Christian Fellowship (ECF) is living out their faith in a new ministry for the thousands of youth living without homes in and around San Jose—Costa Rica’s largest city.
Don Ridder, a Resonate missionary and pastor at ECF, strives to equip mission-minded leaders in ECF’s congregation who will focus on sharing the love of Christ with their neighbors.
David, the leader of the ECF’s mission team, recognized the needs of those experiencing homelessness and felt called to do something about it. He started volunteering with Casa Malagra, a ministry focused on caring specifically for homeless youth in San Jose.
Don Ridder was thrilled when David introduced him to Casa Malagra. He and several other church members began to volunteer with him.
“David is a generous businessman with a deep love for Jesus and a desire to help others in the community,” Ridder said. “His passion inspires others.”
But then Casa Malagra’s founder moved away, and it looked like the ministry might not survive. But instead of getting bogged down in disappointment, David and fellow volunteer Emma felt convicted to carry the ministry on.
They renamed it Esperanza Urbana (Urban Hope) and developed a new vision for the ministry.
“They focus on male, addicted, homeless youth, serving them with their immediate needs, building relationships with them, and helping them take the next steps when they are ready,” said Ridder.
Since David and Emma started leading Esperanza Urbana, more members of ECF have stepped up to volunteer.
“Over a dozen others from ECF have become involved in the weekly service opportunities,” said Ridder. “The other night there were over three dozen total volunteers … sharing with over 100 of our friends on the streets.”
Volunteers help provide food and other living essentials, along with emotional support. “We linger with the vulnerable young people, providing what they need at the moment while offering friendship, hope, and opportunities,” said Ridder.
And God is working through the time they give. Perhaps no one knows better than Manuel, a young man who was stabbed after he wasn’t able to repay some borrowed money.
“He reached out to Esperanza Urbana for help and our leaders were there,” said Ridder. “A safe spot was secured after his hospital stay, and he is no longer living on the streets. Praise the Lord!”
Inspired by stories like Manuel’s, ECF is thrilled to see what else God has in store for the youth Esperanza Urbana serves.
“At our church, we are putting our faith into action and that is inspiring us to trust Christ more fully and to be better stewards of what we have so we can be even more generous givers,” said Don. “I feel like I am just beginning.”
Please pray for Manuel and the other young men who Esperanza Urbana serves. Pray that they will experience the love of God through this ministry.
This story was originally published on crcna.org.