unsplash-logoGenie Austin

Missionary Care Retreat

This past weekend, our missionary team was treated to a special retreat from the pastors & staff at RiverStone Church.  We studied the life of Joseph and learned how God redeems the difficult circumstances in our lives for His glory!  Pastor Tom encouraged our team to "Live in the deep end" and gave us practical tips to go deeper with Christ. IMG_0077

Each couple received counseling and prayer.  Plus, we enjoyed "Date night" with our spouse (without kids!!).  We also participated in a guided tour through Manuel Antonio National Park where we got to see Costa Rican critters up close and personal.  This retreat was truly a time of refreshing in the presence of the Lord.

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Thank you Pastors Tom & Melissa (and your amazing team) for demonstrating the love of Jesus in such tangible, practical ways!

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Nan & Brad, Melissa & Pastor Tom, Kenda, and Brooke

New Siblings in the House!

About a week ago, we received a call about three siblings that were aging out of another private organization.  They were looking for somewhere to place them.  After studying the case, we accepted two brothers and a sister!  Leo, Glen, and Gleni are a handful, but we are excited to have them here at the project!  Please pray for a smooth transition for these three and that they will feel loved and accepted in their new home.

Reaching 100 Kids in 13 Years!

We want to share some very exciting news with you. We are celebrating the arrival of the 100th child to the Abraham Project Children’s Homes! With the arrival of Naomi, Dominic and Cameron on August 7th, they represent # 98, # 99, and # 100. It should be pointed out, these children are not just mere numbers to us, they are God’s creation, children with life, joy, and contagious smiles, just to mention a few. These children represent the future and we are convinced that God has a unique and specific plan for each one of them. It is hard to believe that just thirteen years ago, we received the first four children into the homes. As we look back on the years, we realize how God has had His hands not only us, but also on each child who we have been privileged to minister to.  We thank Him and give Him the glory!

 

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Trio of Siblings

This afternoon, just hours after saying good-bye to Alberto, we received a rambunctious trio.  Naomi, Dominic and Cameron displayed some nervous anxiety about coming to the A.P.  They are the products of a neglectful mother who left them alone for periods of time.  We know that God has brought them here and we trust He will fill the void in their hearts.  Please pray for them as they adjust to their new surroundings and that they will feel the love of Jesus in this place.

Hasta Luego Little Friend!

On August 3rd, Bernardo and Natalia arrived to meet their adopted son for the very first time!  They were thrilled to finally get to know Alberto in person.  Alberto’s national adoption was finalized on August 7th. IMG_0009

Since he has a big brother, he will be the "baby" of the family.  Our prayer is that God would bless this sweet lil' family as they begin their new journey together.

Ministry News

Today we received a “Thank you” note from Lifeline Adoption Agency in the U.S.  It read: Thank you so much for all your hard work and advocacy for the children of Costa Rica.  We know it is a big job with many challenges; however, you are making an eternal impact on the lives of thousands of children everyday.  So many children now have loving, forever families because of your passion and diligence.  Our hearts and prayers are with you always.  We love you, and we are so grateful for you!

What a sweet reminder that everything we do has an eternal impact in the lives of every child that comes to us.  Sometimes it’s hard, especially for our house parents who have to deal with the children daily.  Sometimes, they feel like pulling their hair out or just packing up and leaving.  But it’s the call of God that keeps them here.  It’s His mandate to make a difference that encourages them to press on.  Please pray for Esteban & Gaby, and Jairo & Karla.  Pray for God’s wisdom for each challenge they face.  Pray for patience, compassion, and love for every child, no matter how difficult they are.  Pray that they would remember that there is an eternal reward to those who diligently serve Him.

Last month we mentioned that Richard & Sandra’s file is currently being reviewed by a potential adoptive family.  The family has requested additional information with regards to their academic performance in school.  Last week, we asked their teachers for reports with regards to their progress.  Thankfully, they gave them to us promptly and we have delivered them to the Office of Adoptions.  We are now waiting to see what the family decides.  Both Richard and Sandra have struggled since the beginning of the year.  The transition of Aaron & Candace out of the home and two sets of siblings leaving in adoption the latter part of January has really taken a toll on these affectionate siblings.  They are misbehaving so much, but we feel that the root is their desperate desire to have their own family.  Please pray that God would provide the perfect home for this dynamic duo.

A special trio received good news during the mid year break.  Aliza, Lion, and Zhion were told that they had been matched with a family!  The kids were thrilled to know that  they would be moving to the U.S. in a matter of months.  House parents Gaby & Esteban shared an amazing story with us just before all of this took place.  One morning, Aliza came downstairs and told Gaby that she had a dream the night before.  In her dream, there was a bright light that was calling her name, but she was cautious about approaching it.  Out of the blue, Valeria (Gaby & Esteban’s daughter) pushed her towards it.  The light spoke to her and told her that something very good would be happening soon for her and for her little brothers.  She told Gaby, “I know that was God speaking to me and I believe we’re going to get a family soon!”  Two weeks later, the case worker from Adoptions came out to give them the good news!  Proof that you’ve got to have faith like a child!

A few days ago, our house parents mentioned that one of their kids had been in their home for 2 years.  The boy remember the date that he arrived here at the A.P.  He told  them that he was glad to be here because God has changed his life so much since arriving.  He’s right, God has made a significant difference in his life and in the lives of countless children who have grown up here!

We want you to know that your monthly gift allows you to be a part of that “change” in each child’s life.  You are making an eternal impact on every boy and girl that comes through our doors.  Thank you so much for your unselfish sacrifice and for being a meaningful part of their journey.

 

Wet & Wild Adventure!

After a dynamic week of VBS, the group from Grace Community treated the house parents and all of the children to a wet & wild field trip to a water park!  It was the first time many of our kids had been to anything like this.  It was a blessing for our houseparents as well, since the team members took charge of the children and watched over them all day long. The kids enjoyed themselves on countless water slides on the premises, the pools, and many different attractions.

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We are so grateful for this opportunity to create special memories for the children!

VBS with GCC

Hey everyone, we are wrapping up an intense week of Vacation Bible School (VBS) with our friends from Grace Community Chapel (GCC) in New Jersey.  This week we hosted nearly 400 kids here at the Abraham Project, where they learned that they were created for a special purpose! The team came fully prepared with hip-hop dancing, arts & crafts, games, karate classes, relay races, balloons, and the incredible Word of God!

We began each day with group worship in both English and Spanish.

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The kids enjoyed activities at different stations.

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Every afternoon we closed up with more worship.  It was amazing to see God work in each open heart.

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We extend a heartfelt "Thank you" to our friends from GCC and our staff here at the Abraham Project whose hard work, dedication, and prayers made all of this possible!

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:40

Ministry News

Oh happy day!  After a year of “fighting” with the Costa Rican government to find out any news about Derik’s case, we received word that he had been declared abandoned on December 19, 2016.  Unfortunately, the local office in Limón didn’t notify us last year.  So for the past six months, his case has sat around idly (while we have been writing letters to the President of PANI, making phone calls, etc.…).  Thankfully, we are on the ball getting his adoption report, medical forms, and photos ready to send to the Office of Adoptions.  Derik is a great kid!  He’s a leader, he has an awesome smile that can brighten up anyone’s day, and he’s currently at a very stable place in his life.  He will turn 13 in September.  Typically people tend to be nervous about adopting adolescent boys.  Please pray that God will bless this teenager with the perfect family and that he will fit right in! We have had so many issues, so many meetings, and so many hours invested in Guadalupe’s case.  At times it seems like things are going well and at other times everything seems like it’s falling apart!  She’s a creature of habit/routine.  After having a successful ending to the school year, she was placed with a new teacher this year.  This, after being told that she would maintain the same teacher in second grade.  The new teacher has not known how to manage her and Guadalupe has taken advantage of the situation.  On a number of occasions, she has bitten, clawed, scratched, and injured the new teacher.  Back in May, the school suspended her for 30 days.  Unfortunately, she thought she was on “vacation.”  During this time, we sought help from the Ministry of Education.  After performing a thorough evaluation of her, they suggested that we transfer her to a new school (this is the 3rd school in a year and 4 months!).  However, the new school has an integrated classroom setting where there are only 7 students.  The small class setting will definitely favor her.  The idea is for her to catch up and acquire the skills she needs to eventually be placed back into a regular class setting.  Honestly, Costa Rica does not have the resources to help kids like Guadalupe.  They are children who are not consider “Special Ed,” but also fall through the cracks in a regular school.  Pray for Guadalupe’s adjustment to her new school and for her behavioral issues.  We believe that the good work God has begun in her, He will bring to completion!

Siblings, Richard & Sandra’s file has been sent to the Office of Adoptions.  There is a potential, international family for them.  They are requesting some additional information with regards to this duo.  We are trusting God to place the children exactly where they need to be!

“All for the glory of God!” ~ I Corinthians 10:31

Ministry News

First of all, we wanted to remind you of the announcement we made in February with regards to the newly formed 501(c)(3) non-profit, “Abraham Project, Inc.” which is based in the state of Texas.  It is super important to mention that for those who wish to donate, the instructions should be followed carefully as outlined in the “Financial Contributions” section on the back page.  Also note, contributions for our personal finances will still be received by CornerStone, however all contributions related to the children’s homes (operational expenses and Phase II development) will be funneled through Abraham Project, Inc. From mid-January until now, we have already received and hosted 9 groups! Two thousand seventeen is proving to be a busy season.  These groups have come from all over the U.S.: Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, D.C., Colorado, Florida, and Kentucky.  We are so thankful for friends that love the A.P. and want to send teams to donate their time, energy, and resources to be a blessing to the homes and to our surrounding “barrio.”  Thanks to all who have already come and to those who will be coming soon!

We are so excited to share that on March 11th, five children in our homes were baptized by immersion.  These kids made a public profession of faith in Jesus in the waters of baptism.  They wordlessly proclaimed, “I confess my faith in Christ and He has cleansed my sins away.  I am now a new creation in Him alone!”

We are all familiar with the instructions that Jesus gave the church in Matthew 28:19 (on the left of this page).  We, the church, are responsible for teaching God’s word and making disciples.  We are incredibly aware of the weight that we bare to teach the word to the children in our care.  Nothing but Christ changes lives and baptism is the outward testimony of the inward change in each little life.

Immersion in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is an act of obedience that Yamil, Derik, Aliza, Valeria, and Lion chose to follow.  They are testifying to their faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior.

Stephen was asked by one of the elders in our church to help him baptize the children.  What a blessing it was to participate in such an important event in the kid’s lives!  Valeria, our own Tio Esteban’s daughter, was one of those baptized.  Esteban was able to pray over and baptize his sweet girl.  We are so glad that lives are being transformed for His Kingdom’s sake!

Following His mandate to be baptized ….

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Valeria (Esteban & Gabriela's daughter)

Sweet Siblings!

On March 1st we received a sweet duo into the fold—Samuel and his little sister Dalia.  They had been placed in a public institution before PANI contacted us to see if we had room for these two.  They are products of neglect due to alcoholic parents.  House parents, Jairo and Karla have taken them into their home.  Samuel is sweet and low key, but sister is pretty spunky and inquisitive.  We love having this dynamic pair here and we are so thankful for the opportunity to sow into their young lives.

Adoption Report!

We are so happy to report that two groups of siblings literally left our homes today!  Daniel & Brithany received the news that they would be placed with a family back in September 2016.  In November, Stuard & Josua also found out that they would be leaving our homes soon.  Incredibly, both sets of siblings left the homes on the same day, … that has never happened since we opened our doors! Luca & Monica arrived on Monday and began bonding with their sons immediately.  Javier & Manuela arrived the following day and connected straightaway with their son and daughter.  All four children were ready to leave the homes.  We pay God’s blessing over them as they begin a new adventure and continue their journeys with the Lord.

Welcome / Bienvenidos!

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We would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest staff members, Jairo and Karla Vega.  Our new “tíos” join us along with their son Mateo and will be assuming their duties in the children’s home.  We are so grateful for their willingness to follow God’s call.  We trust God will use them mightily to impact the lives of the children that come through their doors.  ¡Bienvenidos y bendiciones!

Good-Bye and God Bless!

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At the beginning of 2016, Aarón and Candace notified us that they would be resigning from their duties as house parents at the end of the year.  We are so grateful for the opportunity God gave us to work hand-in-hand with them for the past six years.  They sowed their time, energy, and love into the lives of the children in their home and we trust God will reward their faithfulness.

Hebrews 6:10 promises,

“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” 

Aarón, Candace, and Chanel will take a little time to regroup as a family and seek the Lord’s direction as to what He has in store for them in the future.

We pray God’s blessings over their family during their transition and upcoming year!

URGENT End of Year Consideration

We would like to present a few needs we are currently experiencing.  A considerable amount of time has been expended in planning for Phase II.  This includes several trips back to the U.S. to raise funds.  God has moved mightily and we trust He will continue to do so. Now it is time to focus on other aspects of the ministry.  In years past, there has always been a little nest egg to rely on, in the event funding dropped.  These reserves have served us well, but we are very aware that they too can run out.  We need to shore up the accounts used for the children’s home’s daily expenses and the Thomas fund.  This is where we need your help!  See giving info below.

As 2016 draws to a close, we would ask that you prayerfully consider how you might help in this situation.  We know God is always faithful and uses people just like you to accomplish His will.  Thank You for your Consideration!

For those who desire to contribute financially, mail to the following address:

Cornerstone International, P.O. Box 192, Wilmore, KY 40390

Please make checks payable to Cornerstone International and note in the memo section “World Hope Outreach”

for Thomas’ personal finances, or “Operation Abraham” for child sponsorship.

Field Address:

Thomas Family, SJO 2326, P.O. Box 025216, Miami, Florida  33102Phone #: (956) 287-3131      Email: sgthomas@ice.co.cr      Website: www.abrahamproject.org

Ministry News

To God Be All the Glory

Philippians 2:7 

“He gave up His place with God and made himself nothing.  He was born to be a man and became like a servant.”

The passage in Philippians reminds us that Christ willingly left glory and came to earth in order to relate to mankind.  He humbled Himself and became like a servant.  As we focus on Jesus as our example, we see His willingness to lay aside His divinity to adopt the lowly form of man.  His attitude reflects one of unselfish behavior, humility, and servanthood.  He was born in a unpretentious manger.  As a man, He didn’t choose wealth or position, but instead He came to serve.  Sometimes our Christian walk may require laying aside “our right” in order to esteem and value others more than ourselves.  There is great blessing in service to others.

As we close out another year, we would love to present you with the following update and praise report of what God has been up to with regards to Phase II.

1) Funds for the 1st children’s home ($285K) will be donated by a donor with one stipulation, funds for the bridge must be raised before the end of November.

2) A favorable deal with the bridge company was negotiated.  They dropped their build price to $88K and also waived the fees for the heavy equipment that will be needed to complete the project.  Of the $88K needed, more than $90K has been raised.  The goal of raising the money before the end of November was successfully completed, thus fulfilling the requirement of the donor of the 1st home.

3) We have another person/business that has committed to giving $285K for the 2nd children’s home.

4) Another contribution of $150Kwas secured, which will be applied to the third children’s home or infrastructure as the need dictates.

Over and over again, God has demonstrated His ability to provide for what He has called His people to do.  No, it is not always in ways we would like or even in our preferred time, but always according to His perfect will.  To God be the Glory!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!