The SSP trip is seen as the capstone of a Christian and classical education at CCS. It was proposed in 2004 as the brainchild of a full-time missionary dad, a founding board member, and a wise superintendent who together wanted to capture the essence of a Christian worldview with feet and hands! SSP allows seniors an opportunity to reach up and out through a short-term mission while participating in the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and surely I am with you …” Although we see Matthew 28:19-20 as the mission of the church, these young people are mature young adults getting ready to go out into the world. What better time, than at the end of their formal K-12 education, to send them out with the Good News. What a privilege to lead these young people on a journey to serve, to see God’s world and work, and to be a small part of something much bigger than themselves. Yes, they go with a testimony, but they return with an expanded one that is deeper, richer, and fuller. Part of what makes this trip work so well is the relationship we have built with our in-country liaison, Daniel Rojas. He works through CiM (Churches in Missions) out of Sanford, NC, as their Director of Latin America. For us, he works to secure facilities, plan our itinerary, and provide for our safety and necessities. Overseeing the logistics is a big undertaking!
Students spend three and a half months preparing through an elective and many hours outside of school to use their talents for service to the people in Costa Rica. That preparation involves everything from combining musical talents, writing personal testimonies and speaking, rehearsing drama and mime, and practicing Spanish. All of that preparation pays off as they exercise these gifts in Costa Rica by ministering through construction projects and visiting in schools (mostly government), orphanages, and churches. They openly share Christ through sports (mostly soccer), simply giving back in whatever ways God directs. Here are a few ways that service can play out: preparing carnivals with games and activities for communities, working with churches to invite neighbors to church and encourage the members, and providing the manpower for community/work projects. Over the last five or more years, God has opened doors in the government orphanages to allow us to visit there. Our construction projects have ranged from building playground equipment at one orphanage and at three churches, to building bathrooms, pouring concrete floors, putting on corrugated metal roofs, and expanding their ministry footprint as the churches grow. We have also provided relief efforts to mudslide victims by cleaning out homes and debris in devastated areas. Ministry inside the government schools provides the most face time with students, allowing for interaction, competitions, and sharing photo books and testimonies. Students provide music, drama, and the gospel message. Occasionally there have been opportunities for cultural events such as concerts and colorful dance exhibits. We typically sightsee to a beautiful scenic overlook and also visit the oldest operating basilica in Costa Rica. The students rely on their own skills to communicate in Spanish. This is a great experience to use what they have learned in the classroom while allowing God to help them remember and effectively communicate! They have many opportunities to put into practice Christian living as God removes the partitions/barriers as soon as we board the plane. Students who have been classmates together for years have real conversations. It is a wonderful thing without all of the distractions. The students work together as a team in ways they would never imagine. They serve tirelessly. They are blessed immensely.
What they receive back from their service to others is a true sense of purpose and meaning. This service is their practice by putting into play all that they have learned in the classrooms, hallways, and on the sports teams while at CCS. They walk the Christian walk in a foreign land for God’s glory. They love man and God by being His voice, His feet, and His hands. They see that small things make a difference in the lives of children through play, laughter, singing, games, and sharing their stories; it all matters. They have a week to make a difference. They make new friends. They leave a legacy. God moves them outside their comfort zone. They see God at work in making leaders among themselves. They see kindnesses that they would previously have missed. They see love in action. They witness classmates step out of their comfort zones for the first time! Camaraderie occurs that’s unplanned and unique. What really changes is their perspective. It is all about reaching up and out! God meets each senior where he or she is and grows them up in maturity and grace. They bond together as a class in ways that they simply do not experience here, yet it is their relationship at CCS that fosters this incredible growth. It is life-changing. The mission is indeed two-fold with eternal purpose and focus. They see Jesus in the faces of the Costa Ricans, while they are the face of Jesus and the gospel to others. Those who are seeking, find God, both the Costa Ricans and the seniors. They serve God for eight gloriously rewarding days!