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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 5

Jeff Raymond on October 2, 2013 Comments (3)

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Wednesday, October 2

As the powerful Creator of the universe, nothing God comes up with to reach into hearts and draw them back to Himself should surprise us.  When people look at TACTICA and say, “Wow, that’s a unique ministry,” they are usually referring to the fact that these missionaries teach the use of street fighting and weapons in order for police officers to perform their duties.  But I just have to tell you that what is happening here is Costa Rica is so much more than that.  The hearts of the missionaries, and of the team of law enforcement officers from the States, are sold out to Jesus Christ.  They are bold and intentional in proclaiming the truth of the Bible, and that accepting Christ will radically transform your life.  And they are surrounded by Costa Ricans whom they’ve discipled, whose lives are showing it.

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Each successive day has started ½ hour earlier than the one before.  If this keeps up, I’ll be getting up before I go to bed.  Since we are changing training venues today, the team has to board the bus earlier than usual to make the longer trip to La Reforma penitentiary (see Day 1 blog for more on this place).  The bus was jam packed due to the incredible amount of equipment we had to take.  Traffic drew the ride out to 1½ hours, making our arrival much later than necessary for timely set up.

With sunrise around 5am, this place starts getting pretty warm outside by about 8:00.  The training site has no cover overhead, and nowhere decent to set stuff on the muddy ground underneath.  Like Monday and Tuesday, the clouds rolled in about noon and rain started at 1:30.  But unlike Pennsylvania, the rain actually causes the temps to drop significantly.  So as the wet and mud increases, at least the temperature is more comfortable.  Self-defense and firing range activities continued right through the rain, just as police work continues regardless of weather.

I decided once again to shoot video and still photos, having set up one camera for each.  This wasn’t too bad of an endeavor since I was not using separate audio equipment, nor lighting the scene.  Intense sun, and ambient sound was the order of the day.  It’s not as if gunshots need an extra microphone to be heard anyway.

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Today was full of many very visual activities.  I started with a group working on rescue and recovery, where a “wall” of armed cops go in as a unit to rescue a downed officer.  After a few practices, they were sent into a field surrounded by hills to get a victim, unaware that there was a real “bad guy” hiding in the bushes shooting live “Simunition” rounds at them.  These are 9mm paint balls that leave a mark to show they’ve been hit.  Return fire from the officers was with Airsoft automatic rifles shooting plastic balls.  This made for some great video footage.

The team member playing the bad guy, hiding in the bushes, got a few welts from Costa Rican officers who had done this before and were great shooters.  As he sat in very deep grass, I called out and said, “Hey, Jeff (his name too), you know they have BIG snakes around here.”  That was a greater concern for him than plastic ammo.  At the end of the day, Jeff gave his testimony and told them that if he could introduce just one to Christ, it was worth coming all the way to Costa Rica to be shot at.

This was also the first day on the firing range.  (Notice the team wore the red TACTICA shirts today!)  Lots of practice run throughs before real bullets were issued.  Many were very nervous (a healthy fear) having never fired a gun before.  Through the day all 85 trainees were able to safely practice hitting targets.  It was also a good time for video and photos, but I limited my time here knowing that this is not the primary thing the missionaries promote about TACTICA training.  However it is the one thing that is going to keep an officer alive in the line of duty.

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Obviously, the only safe place to be is behind the dudes with guns, but that’s not such an interesting camera angle.  So I took a gamble at using a remote camera set up in front of the firing line (off to the side of course).  No stray bullets found my camera, and the shots look great. (If you look close at the photo, you'll see me safely located while triggering the camera).

Speaking of stray bullets, I do have a praise to report.  Frank, one of the team members, came to me with a used chunk of lead and explained that it had ricocheted off of a rock and flew back behind the firing line, just over my head while I was taking a picture.  It landed on the ground behind me where one of the Costa Rican officers picked it up.  While it wouldn’t have been deadly, it would have packed a damaging punch.  I would never have otherwise known about this danger I had not seen fly by my cranium.  Do you ever wonder the number of ways that God daily intervenes to protect us?

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Lunch time was again an active time of engagement as many spiritual conversations were happening all over the place.  Today I chose to photograph team members talking with Costa Ricans rather than stand there and talk myself.  This has been a difficulty for me, because I’m here to shoot images, but would rather talk.

Many Bibles out, many prayers, many tears as the Holy Spirit is convicting hearts.

One of the more powerful moments was the last item of the day.  With over 100 people huddled under a canopy tent, while the rain poured down and night set in, three team members gave testimonies.  The gun range director, Doug has been on four TACTICA trips.  His story brought many to tears as he recounted that one year ago today, His dear wife lost her battle to cancer, and entered her reward in heaven.

It was a long, quiet ride back on the bus in heavy rain.  I think everyone is quite tired from a very long, hot day.  God has brought together a great and talented team to minister here, and by the way, I wouldn’t mess with any of these guys on the street.

Click here to read the next blog from the Costa Rica Chronicles series

NOTE:  Clicking on any of the images in the blog will allow you to view them larger.


 

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  1. Marie October 4, 2013

    I see they didn't give Jeff a gun.

  2. Scott October 4, 2013

    Hey, Jeff, when do you put on the criminal suit to get a different perspective?

  3. Mike Armstrong October 5, 2013

    Hey Marie......We did actually put a gun in his hands, we just did NOT give him real bullets!! Check out the photo in his "Day 4" chronicles.

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