This is the story of seven-year-old Natalia of PFK Costa Rica, as told by our IGNITE Class 12 intern, Kenadie (of Crossroads Community Church). Kenadie has been serving in Costa Rica for the past four months through the Potter’s Field IGNITE program and has been able to get to know and love little Natalia through serving at the local Kids Clubs both in Llanito and in Villarreal (alongside Calvary Chapel Villarreal). Please be praying for Natalia and all of the children who attend Kids Club in Costa Rica.
Like most of the kids in Llanito, Costa Rica, Natalia was born in Nicaragua. She moved to Costa Rica when she was five years old to live with her extended family. She faithfully attends Kids Club every Monday in Llanito, Costa Rica with two of her older cousins. Kids Club has only been in Llanito for about a year, so she hasn’t been attending for very long, but she is part of the original group of children. Natalia knew nothing about Jesus when she first started coming to Kids Club but is now hearing about Him every week through the songs and Bible stories.
Costa Rica is the melting pot of central America, and it is common for Nicaraguans to move to Costa Rica because of how much safer it is. Unfortunately, they are not always welcomed with open arms. Nicaraguans are looked down on by the majority of native Costa Ricans. Even if they’re good citizens, they are viewed as dirty and considered outsiders. Children like Natalia who move here are going to stand out for their entire lives. At the school in Llanito, most of the students are from Nicaragua, but anywhere outside of that, biases are going to follow them. Natalia is part of this group of people seen as slightly “less than” simply because of where she was born.
Natalia lives with her aunt and cousins while her mom lives in Nicaragua. Her mom didn’t do this out of a heart to protect her but because she didn’t want her daughter to be with her. Although she lives in a safer country, the heartache of not being wanted by her mother has deeply hurt Natalia. Seven years old is old enough to know that she isn’t wanted by the woman who should love her more than anyone else. Through Kids Club, Natalia is learning about the God who loves her enough to die for her. She is learning that she is valued and wanted by the King of kings. For the first time in her life, she is being shown the love that she has always needed. She is being told that our God is near to the broken hearted.
This reality of being unwanted is one that is not uncommon in Costa Rica. It is normal to start having children by the age of 15 or 16, almost always outside of marriage and usually with multiple men. be committed to raising a family together and even more rare that they get married. Because the family unit isn’t prioritized, children are not seen as precious blessings from the Lord. Without the Lord breaking into Natalia’s life, this is all she would ever know. She would never see that there is any other way of life. We know that the Lord can do anything, but watching Him break the cycle of brokenness never ceases to amaze me.
Please pray for Natalia to have a heart that loves the Lord from a very young age. Pray that she would find healing and comfort in the fact that Jesus loves her and died for her sins. As the Lord begins to change her life, please pray that she would be an example to her family and friends of what it means to love the Lord with your whole heart.