Relationships are beautiful, hard, time consuming, transient, and worth every, single, moment. True relationships, the deepening and strengthening of relationships, happen in the unplanned moments. We plan Casafé weekly as a way to be intentional with our youth, to provide structure to their and our weeks, and to allow for consistency in their chances to meet with us and grow with God. Recently God has been showing us how good this is, but also how His ways are even better. His unexpected blessings are what life is made of, what ministry is made of. This applies to everyone. Whether your ministry is in Jaco meeting with kids every week and teaching them day in and day out, or is with your coworkers at work where you consistently have to remind yourself to share Jesus’ love through your words and actions, or it is in a school with tons of crazy kids whose only good role model is you. Whatever it is, wherever you are, whoever you are with, we are all in ministry.

Recently, God’s unexpected blessings have been coming in the form of disorder, altered plans, falling behind in work, and exhaustion. In the very best way possible. I write these with a smile on my face.

One of the things especially important in this ministry is the intentional relationships with our youth. This often means going out of our way to spend time with them when maybe we had other things planned. It means making ourselves available to surf when all we wanted to do was take a quick nap. It means going out of our way to give someone a ride, even though they’re going in the opposite direction. It means instead of writing about the ministry, like we had planned, we accompany some of the youth to a talent show so they aren’t alone. It means we let go of the bible study we had planned, because today, today God has brought along someone else who’s words need to be heard by our youth (read more about this in the update titled: “Guest Speaker”).

This is true for all intentional relationships. We must be willing to sacrifice to form these relationships and always trust that God’s plan is better. No matter what ministry you are in, making these intentional sacrifices to better the kingdom of God will never be wasted.

Every week the same two boys who always attend English class want to surf multiple times. We obliged, as they do not have very structured weeks (it’s better to be surfing than doing other things available to them in Jaco). In place of this we could have been working on ministry budgets, updates, websites, newsletters, Bible studies, class prep, or any of the other numerous things that occupy our days, but building realtionships with these boys is also very important. We are here to be in these relationships. Our plans will be thrown off for the week because we just spent a lot of productive hours surfing, but we don’t see it that way. We look at it as this: those hours were just spent in relationship with two souls who belong to Christ. Souls who are pursuing relationships with Him. Us simply being with them, surfing with them, talking to them weekly, and teaching them consistently are crucial moments; those things are providing a space where they are comfortable enough to take steps with God. If we did not sacrifice those hours, that space would not exist; it takes work to be in relationship.

Another member of the youth spent a lot of time around Casafé a few weeks back. His mom was out of town and he didn’t want to spend all his time alone at home. He would often came over to walk the dogs and partake in meals with us. We, again, took time we could have been using for all the “things” we had planned for the day. Instead we took the time to be there for him and make sure he felt welcome. This was a sacrifice, one we are called to make by our heavenly father. Love others as yourself. Oh how worthy a sacrifice it is.

We seek to see these things as pure blessings from the One who sees everything. While we may not always know the circumstances of those who walk through our doors every week, He does, and He will point us in their direction when we are needed. All we must do is listen and follow.

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