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What’s Your Mission?

I’m thrilled to welcome back Linda Bello-Ruiz. Recently, she shared how God got her attention on a beach in San Francisco and how He sent her to Costa Rica to help the young girls in prostitution. Today, she will share what God currently has her working on.

Linda MissionSomeone recently asked me about my “mission.” At first I thought, “I’m not involved in any mission work now,” but after thinking and musing and praying about the question for a few days, a light bulb came on. I’m a Christian. Of course I have a mission. I have a mission and you have a mission, too.

Yes, during the days of The House of Hope, as described in my memoir, From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope, I had a well-defined “mission.” I directed a halfway house and advocated for street girls, runaways and underage prostitutes in Costa Rica. I was a bona-fide “missionary.”

But when I returned to the United States, I became a “civilian” as it was—an ordinary go-to-church-believe-in-Christ Christian. I devoted my life to my family and also to my clients when I began work as a counselor. Was that my “mission?” I never thought about it in those terms.

I lived my Christian life and left the “mission” work for those who venture around the world saving lost souls or for those who selflessly open shelters and missions and help others in the name of the Lord.

But wait…aren’t we all missionaries, every day of every year?

YES, we are. Here’s how I now see God’s divine hand in my life. Every day I wake up and say, “What do you have for me today, Lord?” and then I set out to be a missionary…to be an angel used by God.

Last year, in Mexico where I live part of the year, I strolled without a care down the street to buy fresh tortillas when in front of me, on the corner, I saw a starving dog–a Doberman Pincher so skinny and weak she could hardly stand up.

The mandate was immediate. “Rescue that dog!” It was like lightning struck my heart with compassion and I set out to save that dog. It’s been nearly a year now and Frida the dog is healthy and happy. It took two surgeries, lots of food and nutrients, friends in the neighborhood to feed her while I was away, forming a relationship with the owners to teach them how to care for her and how to make dog food out of rice, beans, tortillas and meat scraps from the butcher. Frida was saved and I’m delighted that God (yes, I believe it was God’s doing) placed her in front of me that day and gave me a heart for her.

The list is long of the animals and people God has put in my path. Sometimes it’s holding a friend’s hand as they pour their heart out, or paying the grocery bill for the sad-looking women in front of me in the grocery checkout line who is frantically counting her pennies, or driving a neighbor to the doctor because he/she can no longer drive.

EACH OF US is a missionary and we’re on a “mission” every day– a mission possible. Buildings don’t contain us and we don’t have financial advisors and pamphlets to tell the world about us. But God needs us and uses us. We just need to be alert, and have a willing heart and kind Spirit.blessed to give

Over the last six months, I have felt internal “promptings” telling me my work for the Lord has come full circle. Those many years ago, God led me to work with underage prostitutes and street girls in Costa Rica. Suddenly I began hearing and reading news stories about sex-trafficking of minors right here in my backyard, Sacramento–and the more I looked into this, the more the urgings came to “get involved!” And…as Spirit would have it, just as my memoir was being published last year, I found out about another safe-haven for sex-trafficked girls in Costa Rica (the first to open since the House of Hope closed). Coincidence?

What now Lord? Is all I can think to ask.

I’ve just completed a certification program to work with Courage House, the safe-haven and rehabilitation center for sex-trafficked minors based in the Sacramento area. And, as I write this blog post, I’m packed and ready to leave for Costa Rica, where I’ll be (among other things) volunteering at Saving Hearts, a safe-haven for minors sold in the sex trade.

My golf clubs still beckon me, and my dance shoes are waiting to be strapped on, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that point in my life when I feel, “I’m done.” So, stay tuned as I fly and flit around the country and the world, reaching out to help others. If YOU feel those same urgings, be part of the solution and volunteer for Courage Worldwide; and/or donate to Saving Hearts.

You are a missionary and you WILL be blessed. I promise. Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35.

Courage Worldwide: www.courageworldwide.com

Saving Hearts: www.salvandocorazonescr.com

Hugs and blessings, Linda Bello-Ruiz, author of the award-winning memoir, From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope (now available in Spanish – De Lagrimas a Triunfo, Mi Camino a La Casa de La Esperanza). www.lindabelloruiz.com

The House of Hope

LindaBelloRuiz Pic

Join me in welcoming back Linda Bello-Ruiz.  Last month she shared with us how God spoke to her when she asked Him for a sign.  Please click here for that story.  Today she will tell us about her adventures in Costa Rica, helping the young girls in The Red Light District.

During prayer one morning, I asked God what plans He had for me. I was not yet twenty-three-years old, but desperate to do God’s will and find meaning in my life. I remained quiet, waiting, seeking.  The heavens didn’t open with a shout from the Almighty, a burning bush didn’t appear before me, nor was there a resounding trumpet announcing God’s voice. Instead, that still, quiet voice that I had come to know as the voice of God spoke to me.  The voice came from within, as if I were talking to myself, and yet I wasn’t.  Separate from my own inner voice, I heard the clear voice of the Lord:  “Return to Costa Rica and setup a Christian halfway house for young girls.”

“Okay,” although the idea of returning to Costa Rica had never occurred to me. Not for a second did I question or doubt the message I had received.

Three months later, January 1974, I stood in the Red Light Zone of San Jose, Costa Rica, between two Catholic priests. Father Solano directed our attention to several young women leaning against a second-floor balcony wall.  They looked down at us with curiosity as we walked by.  The sight of two priests and a tall, redheaded American girl (me!) walking through their neighborhood at night must have been an unusual sight.  Behind the girls, a  red light shone against a closed, thin curtain.

Father Solano pointed toward a doorway a half block ahead of us.  Two young girls, maybe thirteen years old, peered out from the doorway, wearing short skirts, halter-tops and high heels.  Huge colorful earrings completed their sexy attire. They’d painted their young faces with far too much makeup and looked like little girls playing dress-up in their mommy’s lipstick and clothes.

“Oh, my gosh,” I said. “They’re so young.”

“Yes, they are,” he said. “Unfortunately, prostitution is legal in Costa Rica.  But the girls must be at least eighteen. These young ones are either not registered or they’re working with falsified documents.  Police enforcement of under age prostitution has been lax.”Linda Girl in the zone

An older man approached the two young girls in the doorway ahead of us.  They exchanged a few words.  I watched in dismay as he put his arms around their small bodies and walked inside. I tried not to think about what they were being asked to do by that man, and what their lives must be like everyday.

Seeds were planted that night, which would bring about The House of Hope, a Christian safe-haven for underage prostitutes–founded by Padre Solano, Joe Pent (an American missionary) and myself. My faith was bigger than my resume. I possessed NO experience for directing a half-way house. NONE! So I had to rely on faith, prayer and guidance by the Holy Spirit. And maybe that’s why God chose me. He knew I had to rely on Him.

The first five girls arrived from a detention center a week after opening our doors on April 1, 1974. By the end of that first month, four of the girls had run away, after (in my absence) holding a friend of mine at knife-point and stealing all they could carry and run.

“This is a test to see if I’ll pack up and go home,”  I told myself that night. “Well, I won’t.” The experience made me stronger and even more determined to succeed—I wasn’t going to let four misguided street girls stop me.

With each day and each experience, good and bad, my faith grew. With a determined faith, I walked through the Red Light District, made friends with prostitutes, negotiated territory with pimps, and won the confidence of young girls working in the sex trade.

Although barely ten years older than most of the teens that came to The House of Hope, I felt like their “mommy.” I too, had lived a tumultuous past, and I knew God could and would change hearts and lives. Which He did. On average, sixty young girls came through the doors of La Casadela Esperanza per year, over a nine-year period—young girls who were given the opportunity to change from the inside out.Linda The Red LIght Zone

The underage sex-trade continues in Costa Rica (and around the world), but a higher awareness exists of its devastating consequences. The “sex-trade” is now morphed into “sex-trafficking” and I will be returning to Costa Rica in October of this year to visit a new safe-house, Saving Hearts – dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitation of self-trafficked minors.

Do you have questions? Do you have a heart to help? Contact me. I can direct you to some wonderful programs around the United States and the world that exist to stop the sex-trafficking plague.

Linda Bello-Ruiz is the author of the award-winning memoir, From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope. Visit her website at: www.lindabelloruiz.com

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