An accounting of Face of Justice

God does not ask us to do great things.
He simply asks us to obey so He can do
great things through us.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Skimming the Surface

skim |skim|
verb ( skimmed, skimming ) go or move quickly and lightly over or on a surface.

Human trafficking and exploitation in Costa Rica is a very complicated and tragic reality. On September 17, 2011 a group of 11 filmmakers with Freedom Street Ministries began a journey to go beneath the surface of this issue. In our planning days we have hoped that we could gather enough footage in two weeks that would present the problem.

Our hopes were grossly underestimated. We have only skimmed the surface.

Our two weeks quickly passed as we interviewed government officials such as the director of the Ministry of Immigration, the Minister of Peace and Justice, a prosecuting attorney in the Justice Department and several others. We spoke with NGOs and various faith-based organizations such as Alliance for Your Rights, World Vision and the International Labor Organization.

In all these interviews we found many people who care deeply about the victims of exploitation and are working hard to do something to stop this modern form of slavery. Yes, corruption in the Costa Rican government and organized crime are playing a huge role but more so the lack of funding, confusion in defining the crime and a general lack of understanding of the issue keep law makers, law enforcement and activists from effecting change.

The director of Immigration Kathryn Rodrigez said, "We are just beginning to pull back the curtain of exploitation within Costa Rica." And so it with our team as we work to present the realities of trafficking and exploitation in the streets, homes and neighborhoods of Costa Rica. In many ways we feel we have only just begun our journey.

Over the next few months we will be organizing our next level of filming and planning a time to execute it. We have connections that will enable us to interview the current president of Costa Rica as well as former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias. Other connections are giving us the opportunity to interview a few child victims of exploitation.

This reality is not an issue that can be skimmed over. We hope to dive deep and continue our journey.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Creative Justice

The month of September is proving to be a very big month for Freedom Street Ministries.  We have two big events happening. The first is Justice and Media Month, which is a conference on justice issues and training in video production, journalism and other aspects of media.

This is a poster detailing the subjects and schedule of each week. We believe this is just a small beginning of what God wants to do in the future with justice and media from YWAM San Jose and out of Freedom Street Ministries.

The second big event goes along side the first one perfectly. On September 17, filmmaker Nathan Elliott, I Am Active, Jacksonville, FL, to help Elizabeth Gilroy produce a documentary on human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children in San Jose and throughout Costa Rica.

Our goal is to present this issue as it exists and how it is impacting this beautiful country. 

The students of the Justice and Media Month will participate as crew for the documentary team.

We need your prayers to help make all this happen. Please join us in prayer this month in particular as we go into government offices, network with NGOs and on the streets to gather footage for this project.

We also have other opportunities you to help us. We need to raise $6,000 to accomplish this task. Although the whole crew will be working on a volunteer basis, it is still necessary have funds available for this project. If you are able to help us, please do so at the link on the side of this post.

Also, we have teamed up with I Heart Jesus, who has agreed to give all profit from the selling of bracelets to this project. A link is also available on the side of this post. These are designed specifically for this project and our ministry.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tired Boys

When you are involved in an intense ministry like this one, there is constant need to hear confirmation from God. So every week when our ministry team goes to the streets of San Jose to visit with young men and women who sell themselves in prostitution, we ask Him to go before us, to show Himself in the people we meet.

This is a story of one such night.

Most every week we stop by the Parque Nacional, a public park across the street from Costa Rica's highest court house. A group of young men, ages 14 to 21, stand on a corner of this park.

Last week we stopped and visited five young men who were glad for conversation, a cup of té frio and some cookies. After we chatted or rather they gossiped with us for about 20 minutes, we decided to ask them if anyone had anything they wanted us to pray with them about.

In the group was a young man we had not seen before. His name was Jon and he looked very sad. Typically, these young men laugh and joke a lot, covering up their pain and insecurities of which there are many.  Jon could not hide his pain. He sat on the damp, stone steps leading into the park with his head bent low.  Jon was quiet, not saying a word or laughing.

When we asked if someone wanted to pray, Jon instantly raised his hand and practically jumped off the step on which he was sitting. Once he realized what he had done, he recoiled in embarrassment and offered to let everyone else to go first.

We assured him that we had time for him as well as the others. One of our team took Jon aside, as he told her about his the weariness of his life and how he wanted to get off the streets. "I am just tired," he said. "I can't do this any more."

We did not know Jon's exact age but we are guessing he is about 17 years old.

While Anabel was praying with Jon, the rest of us prayed with a few of the others. Among them was Daniel. We have visited with Daniel on several occasions but he never seemed interested in praying or establishing a relationship with any of us. He was always one of those who were good at covering up his pain with joking or laughter. 

This night, however, he was not laughing at all when he asked us to pray with him. As he told us about his mother being in the hospital, tears danced at the edge of his eyes. "I am tired," he said. "I can't do this any more." 

Daniel is 21. He has been standing on this corner since was 14 years old.

My heart was heavy. All that week I prayed for Jon and Daniel. Their words "I am tired" rang through my head over and over.  Young men I know do not typically fall in exhaustion unless they have been playing a long game of soccer or running a race.  The only young men I know are full of energy with  life full before them.

In response to my cries, God took me to a scripture that I had seen many times but had new meaning and a profound impact.

The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding
He gives power to the weak
and strength the to powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
                               Isaiah 40:28-31

After I read this scripture, I wept for our friends and then God spoke very clearly. He told me He knew these young men and countless others when He gave these words to Isaiah. He had these young men in His eyes and He cares for them. "Help them see Me," He said.

Before we ended the conversation with Daniel, he told us, "Is there a place I can go pray?" We told him about the coffee house we are opening and it is going to be for him and that it will be a place to pray. "I will be there when it opens" he said.

So we know the task we have before us. We hope to see these young men soar high on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and no faint. But right now that seems impossible to them and us, but our Lord is the everlasting God, creator of all the earth!

The names in this blog are fictitious to protect the young men who are our friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Along the journey. . . .

by Elizabeth Gilroy

If you are driving forward toward your destination, there are times you have to stop along the way and drop off a passenger.  Often times this is done with great sorrow or dismay because the journey was going so well with everyone on board.

And so it is with Freedom Street Ministries right now. We have been moving forward, with a full tank and cruising in the tailwind of God's mercy. But now it's time for a stop, dropping off a fellow driver.

Our core ministry team is myself Elizabeth Gilroy, Paola Arce and Ingrid Rong. It is this trio that has heard the voice of God and stepped into the car without looking back. Well, this week we are saying goodbye to Ingrid Rong who is returning to her home country of Norway where she will be studying counseling for one year.
Ingrid on the right with one of our dear friends.
Ingrid's plan is to return to San Jose and our ministry after a year of study and preparation.  Over the past several months several prophecies have been spoken over her in this regard so we know this is God's plan for her life.

Ingrid has been crucial in our street ministry. She is a shining light and the women and transvestites are drawn to her warm and inviting  personality. She is going to be greatly missed in relationship as well as function of the ministry.

Although, she will be connecting with us each month and continue her fundraising efforts in Norway, we back here in Costa Rica will feel the huge gap she leaves behind. 

So please pray for Ingrid as she moves forward in a different lane, down a different road for a time. We will miss her unfailing energy, consistency and commitment to this ministry. We will also miss her as a friend.

Our coffee house is almost ready for classes and Bible studies but it is ready for people to visit. So this week our friends were  eager to hold a going away party for Ingrid so we opened the house to them.

Ingrid on the right with Lela.

With Ingrid leaving we realize how much these ladies rely on us for friendship.
Building relationships is what Freedom Street is all about. 

Please pray for Paola and I as we keep this fast-moving vehicle forward.  Pray for daily direction and protection. Pray we will organize our time in such a way we are most effective in our lives, our ministry and our families.

Monday, May 16, 2011


It is official! Freedom Street Ministries is officially a ministry of YWAM San Jose.

After months and weeks of training and strategic planning, this small group of passionate people have a plan.

This past week the leadership of YWAM San Jose formally released us into ministry.  Here are some photos of the evening.

Giacomo Coghi and Spence Pavely spoke of release and anointing over us.

Our whole team joined us for prayer.

All the students and staff prayed over us.
This night was long awaited. Our group has been working on the streets for several months, but that was only the beginning. God had a few things He wanted to do in each one of us before our official release into ministry happened. Much of this work happened while all three of us leaders were in Amsterdam, Holland attending the Shine Seminar on Human Trafficking and Prostitution Ministry.

Our time there answered a lot of questions, clarified some muddy waters and gave us vision for our future. It was a time to drink in words of wisdom and direction. After our return we were able to articulate exactly who we are and what we are as a ministry.

Freedom Street Ministries is made up of three main elements. Here is what we look like.

Our Door of Hope
1. Street ministry and Coffee House - During the last few months on the streets we began to realize that offering coffee and cookies on the streets corners to our friends is just not enough. Through these relationships we have built, we have learned there is a great need for mentoring and discipleship. We need a place to spend time and offer Bible studies to our friends who desperately want to change their lives but have no idea how to do it.
For instance, we have a couple of gals who have given their hearts to God but have no idea exactly what that means or how that should impact or change their lives. They know there is a change but they do not know how to walk in it. So along with visiting on the streets, we are opening a coffee house.
God has opened a huge door for us to do this. We are teaming up with another ministry called LightForce International.
This group of young adults from Lexington, Kentucky (where Elizabeth went to college) have been going to the streets with us for several months. They have a heart to offer hope on the streets and joined us. Now our two ministries are working together to open a coffee house. Here are some photos.

This is just inside the front door in the main room.

This is outside the building.

This is our doorway of hope.
We have a lot of work to do before we open our doors. Our goal is to make it a place where we can hold Bible studies and offer classes such as English, beading and cooking. We are not selling coffee but want to be able to serve tea, coffee and snacks during the hours we are open.

Praying down Strongholds
2. We believe in the power of prayer. San Jose is racked with the trafficking of men, women and children. The only way that we can begin to make in difference in this is to pray. Every other week we take a group of people want to see justice reign down to pray in front of the largest brothel in San Jose.

Though beautiful on the outside this old hotel hosts 200-300 prostitutes, many trafficked.
Our prayers against injustice work in tandem with our prayers for the people we meet in that place. While we stand on the street corner in front of this beautiful old building, we encounter pimps, drug dealers and johns (the men who come to buy sex). We often get opportunity to pray with them and speak to them about God's love for them.  God is using these prayer vigils in ways we can only imagine in transforming lives.

Show don't tell
4. Advocacy and Media - One of the most powerful tools we have to fight injustice is media and the arts. Freedom Street Ministries is using these as part of our advocacy strategy. We have two different documentaries that are in the works. Due to safety issues for our team members we cannot divulge any more information than this.
If you want to know more about these or are interested in helping fund these, please contact Elizabeth Gilroy at

So this is the face of our ministry. If you want to be a part in any way, financially or as prayer partners, please contact either one of us. We are excited to see what God is doing through our obedience to Him. Here is a list of financial and prayer needs:

1. For the protection of our team.
2. That God brings each person we need to accomplish our goals.
3. Against the power of the enemy over our team members and our families
4. The men, women and children we work with.
5. Our base leaders and our ministry team
6. For wisdom in all things.
7. God to provide furnishings and decorations for our coffee house.

1. $450 per month for rent on the coffee house
2. Personal monthly support for Paola Arce and Elizabeth Gilroy
3. Funds for decorating and furnishing the coffee house
4. A barista espresso machine - not sure the price
5. $200 per month for food and drinks
6. Funding for documentary projects

We are also in the process of designing t-shirts to sell as a way to raise money for our ministry. If you are interested in helping us sell them or want one for yourself, please let us know.
Thank you so much for your prayers to this point. From here God's anointing is what leads us. We have a task to do and He has given his anointing for this purpose.

Isaiah 61:1 says
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
      Because the LORD has anointed Me
      To preach good tidings to the poor;
      He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
      To proclaim liberty to the captives,
      And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An update on Freedom Street Ministries

Hello everyone! Greetings from San Jose, Costa Rica!

Paola, Ingrid and Elizabeth with Ro Potter in Jaco.
Paola Arce, Ingrid Rong and myself Elizabeth Gilroy recently attended the Shine Conference in Amsterdam, Holland on prostitution ministry and human trafficking. Since that conference. we also attended a conference in Jaco, a coastal town here in Costa Rica where the sexual exploitation of minors is common.  During that time we worked to build the structure and essence of our ministry so we can officially present it to the leadership of YWAM San Jose, Costa Rica. 

Although we have been working in the streets for some time now, our efforts simply came from hearing God's voice and a passion to effect lives and build relationships.  As we have added to our obedience and passion training and understanding, we now have a better structure in place to function as a ministry. In other words, we hope to go from being just a group of people with a heart to work in the streets to an official ministry of YWAM San Jose. But before we are officially in this place, we have to present our vision and passion to our leadership.  We cannot and do not want to move forward in ministry without the release and blessing of our base leadership.

We believe in the authority and covering of leadership in ministry. We also believe that God has put each of us at the YWAM San Jose base with a passion to offer hope and transformation in the streets of San Jose. We know this is God's idea both in the authority structure and our passion in ministry. Therefore, we believe He will work through our leadership to demonstrate His purposes for our lives and ministry.

This ministry is His, not ours. He will raise it up now or delay it. It is in His hands.

Please pray with us over the next few days as we present our ministry to the leadership on Friday morning. Our hearts are filled with excitement but also with surrender to His leadership and the orchestration of this ministry.

We will share with you more about the details of what we look like and what we will be doing in the weeks and months to come. 

Thank you for much for your prayers.

The Freedom Street Ministry team

Friday, February 25, 2011

Red Light Street

Without Jesus there is no true Justice!

In the 17th century Amsterdam was the main trading market in the world. Ships came in and out, and with that came also sailors who after months out on the water were desperate for female company and to satisfy all their needs.                                                                                                                                    
For a while this made the sailors go to the young dutch women to get what they wanted, and this lead to rape and other sexual exploitation. And in reaction to that the Christian church proposed a plan to instead of putting their own dutch girls at risk, they should get girls from other countries to put in their place. These girls were put inside of the windows to keep it in the open and then under control. So an unofficial policy of tolerating this business was adopted. As long as the women worked inside and were not standing in the door openings they could do their business. Women made potential customers aware of their presence through a small opening between the curtains and a soft knock on the window.
As the years went by the curtains opened more and more. And with the less strict sexual morality of the sixties and seventies the tolerance towards prostitution increased even more...

Shine Seminar 2011 !
We started out the Shine Seminar here in Amsterdam with a teaching in Prophetic Justice & Intercession! 
Around the world there are many other organizations that work with Injustice issues with a humanistic point of view, but we know that there is NO message of Justice without the Gospel. 
A girl taken out from a life on the streets might seem to be set free, but it is not until God comes with His healing to her heart that she will receive real Freedom.
Justice is not a human idea, but divine, comes from God.

"In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth." Isaiah 42:3-4

Intercession "It's not about us praying to God, but God showing His heart to us through prayer."
God's calling for all of us is to pray and again we were reminded of the importance of basing our ministry on prayer. We want to stand in the gap for the people we meet, and we hope that also you can be part of our ministry by interceding for and with us.
Our schedule is really full, between work duties, lectures, the research project, outreach in the red Light Street & Intercession our week went really fast.

We are really excited to be here and we look forward for what God wants us to learn the next weeks. 
We will update every week so you can keep track on what the Lord is doing with our ministry.

Ingrid Rong & Paola Arce 

Monday, January 10, 2011

In the Streets

The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise Him! 
Ten years ago the child protective services of Costa Rica released a statistic estimating there are 3,000 underage prostitutes just in the city of San Jose. Since that time these numbers have only increased and San Jose is fast becoming a key destination in the global sex trafficking and tourism industries.

A small group of us at the YWAM base here in San Jose have a heart to reach out and offer hope to these children and also adults who are either victims of human trafficking or caught up in the glamor and money so easily available through prostitution.

With a vision to extend the love of Christ to these children and other adult prostitutes in San Jose, Paola Arce began visiting the streets as a way to build relationships there about 2 years ago. With this vision burning in her heart, she carried this passion until in recent months several other of us  have joined what is now a ministry called A Street Named Freedom.

Ingrid Rong, Pablo Jiminez and Elizabeth Gilroy have joined skills, passion and vision to be God's hands and feet in the streets of San Jose. Every week, we go downtown serving coffee and cookies on the corners where transvestites, women, men and children prostitutes sell themselves every night. God has also placed in our hearts to do prayer vigils in front of the largest brothel in San Jose every other week.

Our vision has three goals: 1) to build relationships by ministering in the streets on a weekly basis and opening a coffee house type place where we can hold Bible studies, classes and have a place where they can visit and hang-out. We want to offer a place of safety and hope to these broken, hurting people.  2) to produce a video documentary exposing the realities of child prostitution in San Jose. Sex tourism has increased the demand for prostitution in Costa Rica, which attracts men from all over the world.  3) to open a safe house far removed from the city environment where women or children can come as a transition to a transformed life.

We can see the hand of God orchestrating every step we take in unfolding His plan for us in the streets. This is His ministry and not our own. We are prayerfully following His lead. 

As we move forward in these goals, we realize more and more the need for greater training and increased wisdom as we work with these broken lives. They are in need of a complete transformation which only God can bring into their lives. And He has chosen to us for this purpose and has called us out to fulfill it.

In February of this year there is a conference in Amsterdam, Holland. We need to raise money for 3 of us to go. Would you please be a part of this ministry by helping us get to this six-week conference. The people who are hosting this conference have worked in the Red Light District of Amsterdam for nearly 15 years. We hope to glean ideas, concepts and wisdom from these women who have worked with prostitutes and transvestites for years.

Here is a brief description of the conference:

Shine Seminar is a six week course designed to promote a healthy understanding of injustice and how we as Christians can and should respond. We hope to provide education, resources and practical tools while mobilizing and connecting people whose goal is to see transformation for people in places impacted by the global sex trade, human trafficking, prostitution and modern-day slavery. The lectures will be held primarily in the Lighthouse (YWAM Amsterdam's ministry to prostitutes) which is located in the Red Light District of Amersterdam.

This is how you can help us. We feel strongly that God is calling us to go to this conference and are believing He is going to make a way for us all to go.

Paola Arce  and Ingrid Rong needs the following amount of money each for the airline tickets and the conference fees.
Airline ticket - $1,200
Shine Seminar fees - $1,100 (six-weeks of food, lodging and conference fees)
The total per person is $2,300. 

Several of our leaders have strongly suggested that we attend this conference and agree that it is a great way to connect and grow in our ministry. Please contact us if you wish to help in any way. There is a paypal link on this blogsite or you may email us.
Elizabeth Gilroy -
Ingrid Rong -
Paolo Arce -

May God bless you and keep you.