A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, June 6, 2014
Being Kind, Playing Soccer at the Dump! (Feature Friday!)
I’m a mom. Even though my children are grown (or, in the case of my youngest, almost grown at seventeen), I still feel very much a mom. When I hear about an outreach that reaches to children and youth, I take special interest.
My friends and former missionaries Alison and Ivan introduced me to Rich and Elisa Brown, founders of IncaLink. I wrote about their outreach last Friday. IncaLink now has ministries in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. I talked with Rich last weekend (through the miracles of modern technology—through Skype!).
While we talked, I asked Rich about how IncaLink got started. He was eager to tell me! Both he and his wife were missionary kids (MKs), growing up in South America. Early in their marriage, they both knew they were called to work as missionaries. They also knew they did not want to work with youth (Little did they know what was ahead!)
They started work for a church in Raleigh, North Carolina. The church wanted them—as youth pastors. They served four years there, also helping in short term mission outreach and trips. They transitioned to full-time missionaries, going to Lima, Peru. The work that was waiting for them there was—you guessed it—as youth pastors. After they transitioned to other youth ministries in Peru, Rich went to a large youth conference. He was moved by God to consider the garbage dump as a place of service. When he returned to his ministry in Trujillo, Peru, he thought about a possible new ministry at the dump, for a week. For a month. And then forgot about it.
Two years went by. Their denomination was preparing to close operations in Peru and move Rich and Elisa in a few months. All of a sudden, Rich remembered the garbage dump. Through a series of circumstances, Rich brought a number of Peruvian youth workers to the dump to give out pizza. This moved the youth workers intensely. Some days later, Rich made plans for a second trip to the dump, and 50 people showed up to go—some of them were atheists. They wanted to see what these Christians were doing at the dump! As Rich said, “The youth workers were poor, but they were so moved they were crying at the poverty in the dump!”
God was indeed moving in the hearts of the indigenous youth workers. Rich had a time limit imposed by the closing of his position, but this didn’t stop the other workers! They felt led to do youth ministry with youth at the dump. Initially, they started playing soccer with the youth, which led to starting other kinds of ministries. Soon they developed in depth relationships, coming alongside of the youth of the dump as they combed through the garbage, as well as teaching the youth useful skills.
This ministry started over six years ago, and Rich and Elisa left Peru shortly afterwards. But the ministry to the youth, children, women and men of the garbage dump continues. The indigenous workers have planned some long-term projects at the dump in the last few years, and successfully carried them out with the help and prayers of supporters of IncaLink, as well as many others throughout the world.
Thank God for the workers who listened to the leading to go to the dump. And be kind. Be of service.
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