The Holy Spirit is working miracles all around us every day, every moment. Yet, it can be easy to lose faith when we aren’t experiencing those miracles in our own lives. For this reason, we testify, sharing the story of how God does show up so that we may be encouraged and our faith can be restored.
Every year we send a number of adults and families to Camp Penuel in Costa Rica–one of our global missions partners. Camp Penuel, a year-round center for camps, retreats, and conferences, began in Costa Rica in 2003. We have been sending teams there since 2014.
So far in 2017-2018, 22 Woodland Hills-ers have gone on mission to Camp Penuel to show God’s love to the campers there through worship, fun activities and crafts, and prayer. One of the teams that just returned had a particularly miraculous adventure. This is their story:
Story submitted by Sharon Brown; edited by Julie Thoreen
Our team of nine left for Camp Penuel on Jan 27, 2018. We had high expectations. This was our second year going and providing a ukulele making project for the campers. We anticipated two separate groups of teens (50 in each group), each group spending three days at the camp.
When we learned that the first group cancelled due to administrative issues at the host church, we became quite discouraged. What were we going to do with half of the 100 ukulele kits we worked hard to assemble and brought to Costa Rica?!
Yet God had an amazing plan. Thelma Bernhagen, the camp director’s wife, happens to also be a corrections social worker. She arranged for us to bring our ukulele parts to a juvenile detention center located a couple of hours from the camp. Despite this, there were many potential obstacles that we were going to have to face while doing things at the detention center. However, God revealed himself in many ways.
Here are a few of the miracles we witnessed:
- Very few Christians volunteer to serve at the detention center. Even though security was tight, we were welcomed with open arms and our ministry was very effective.
- The incarcerated youth are only allowed one hour per day of recreation time. Our project took 3 hours. There was not one single problem during that time.
- Genders and ages are not mixed at the center. Our group consisted of three separate units – made up of different ages and genders. There was not one single problem during that time.
- The guards built ukuleles along with the youth. Rarely does this sort of interaction occur. There was not one single problem during this time.
- The youth helped each other assemble their ukuleles, which is another rare occurance at the center. And you guessed it: no problems occurred.
- Kevin, one of our team members, told his story of addiction to drugs and alcohol. You could have heard a pin drop in the room that was otherwise loud and rowdy. Afterward the majority of teens came up for prayer.
In the end, 34 incarcerated youth, 4 guards and 3 volunteer Christian staff made and learned to play our ukuleles! Who knows what seeds were planted or how lives were changed. God’s plans are amazing and we were blessed to have experienced so many miracles during this unexpected outing.