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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 7

Jeff Raymond on October 4, 2013 Comments (1)

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Friday, Oct 5

This was a day I’ll never forget.  It was a historical day and a day of eternal impact.  It was a day of celebration and of difficult farewells.

The highlights are easy to summarize…

  • The first ever use of the TACTICA Ministry Center – the new home base of operations
  • Many Costa Rican officers making the decision to follow Jesus
  • Conclusion of police training and final exam
  • Festive graduation ceremony to commemorate course completion

…but the stories of each played out as a continual manifestation of God’s hand at work.

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I expected that as I started the day, it was to be a multi-ring circus of activity and that I would need three of me to cover all that was going on.  This assertion was correct.

For this final day, the training was shifted to the new TACTICA Ministry Center.  The building and grounds are currently being rented with an option to buy, which is the premise of the video work I am here for.  It will serve to communicate the ministry vision in order to raise funds to buy the building.  However, to remodel and prepare it for use in this weeks

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training, the missionaries were really hustling to get it ready.  Not only did it need to serve as a training site and host the graduation ceremony, but provide housing facilities.  It needed to be ready to host the team, and things were looking bleak in the week before we all arrived.

So it was with great fanfare that the team was able to welcome the Costa Rican officers we’ve spent the week getting to know.  It is a huge boost to the legitimacy of the ministry for officials and officers to be able to connect with TACTICA at any time through their home base (law enforcement officers are used to the concept of a home base of operations). 

Having a clean, dry, safe place to leave camera gear was a real boost for me.  I needed a lot of equipment throughout the day and switched between photo and video, indoor and outdoor, and using lights or not, so being able to set stuff down and pick up other things was great.

The morning was used to test officers in applying much of what they’d learned about defensive tactics.  Each faced a physically grueling test which simulated warding off attack by multiple attackers coming at them repeatedly.  Also, team members Frank and Greg did an excellent job leading the Costa Ricans through complete disassembly of their pistols, cleaning, lubricating and reassembly.

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Although there was a lot of action to shoot during these final sessions, once they wrapped up training, things really got busy for me.  Team members were very intentionally pulling aside any officer who they’d had any conversation with during the week to ask where they were with God.  “Did you go read the verses I gave you?”  “Did you read the tract you promised you’d read?”  “What do you think?”  “Are there any questions I can answer?”  All around the property were groups of 3-4 people standing or sitting together discussing the claims of God’s Word.  It was an awesome sight!

There was crying.  There was praying.  There were verses being read.  Moving from group to group, I was capturing all I could – both photo and video – of these interactions.   The handful of Spanish interpreters we had were kept very busy as team members grabbed them in order to carry out the important conversations they needed to have.

Salvation prayer

A highlight of my afternoon of shooting was certainly when God put me in the right place at the right time to get video of the moment one guy said, “Yes, I need Christ and want to pray right now.”

While all these little spiritual conversations were going on with individuals, the main group was sitting in the meeting area listening to their colleagues recite Bible verses.  When someone thought they had a verse down word-perfect, they would line up at the microphone and Ryan would follow in the Bible to make sure they got every word.  Verses were ranked in categories 1, 2 or 3 depending on the degree of difficulty, and that would let them know which group of award prizes they could choose from.  The gifts were very nice law enforcements items.  The way one of the team members put it, “our cops in the states would love to have this kind of stuff. “ One guy worked really hard on the category 3 passages in order to earn a pair of boots.  He didn’t have footwear at all to work in.  He was so excited (and even more so later when he received Christ).

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In the mid afternoon, the entire group reassembled for a final, very clear Gospel presentation by Ryan.  He did an excellent job challenging those who had not yet made a profession of faith.  Then he asked all who had chosen to follow Jesus to come up in front of everyone.  It was a bold stand.  I’ll never forget that moment.

The one downer of the day was that some team members were very disappointed by those they had spoken to throughout the week, yet did not respond to the Gospel.  It makes me think of what Jesus must feel when so many He died for still reject Him.

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The Grand Finale of the week was the graduation ceremony, when everyone was changed into their respective full-dress uniforms, including our team members.  Family members and friends attended the formal, pomp-and-circumstance event.  Our missionaries did an amazing job on this.  It really made the officers feel proud of their accomplishments. 

All 85 who came for training this week were personally presented with the clearly explained Gospel.  It was done in the context of loving on them, and showing great concern for their professional safety as police officers.  They were shown respect and dignity that is foreign to their experience.  In their profession, this is just not normal.

But not all accepted Christ’s free gift.  However, they were all impacted.  They know they were taught the truth in love.  Their approach to their jobs and families will be impacted by what they’ve received.  And there will likely come a time when many of them hit rock bottom, needing to know where to turn.  The TACTICA Ministry Center stands as a place they can turn – a place where they know they will be welcomed in love, and given the truth.

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

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  1. Laura M. October 9, 2013

    Wow and double Wow! What a way to end the training! Don't we always want EVERYONE to be saved?!? God feels the same way! We can still pray for them!

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