In the second of our series looking at the lives of inspirational women, we interview Benthe Jongenburger. Originally from the Netherlands, Benthe has been working with a women's project in Costa Rica since February 2015. Here she shares what she loves about her work
Tell me a bit about the project
I work with the Pearl Process in Costa Rica, a project supported by The Freedom Challenge.
We work in Talamanca, the mountainous area in the south of Costa Rica, with the indigenous people. In the afternoon we do Bible Study with the women and then we do craft.
In November 2016 we ran five women’s conferences in five different communities.
This helped us get to know the local women and they got to know us. One hundred and fifty five women came and we noticed that they are hungry to receive more.
In these five communities I am planning to start discipleship training. We will make crafts and then I hope to start the course “Restoring your heart” with them. In Talamanca there is a lot of poverty, abuse, alcoholism, drugs and witchcraft. There is a lot of brokenness and I want to help them to be set free.
Why and how did you start working with OM (the organization the Freedom Challenge is part of)?
The year before I came to Costa Rica I spent a year at an international Bible School focussed on mission.
Here God spoke to me that He didn’t want me to work with children anymore, which is what I thought I would do, but that He wants me to help women.
I have experienced brokenness in my own life. God has set me free and I want to help and walk alongside the women here who don’t have a voice, so that they can be set free as well.
In 2017 we want to start programs in the five communities where we held the conferences. God is opening many doors in Talamanca and it’s such a blessing to be part of it!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
The relationship I have with the women. Spending time with them, getting to know them and sharing about God’s love and truth to them and seeing how much this helps them. To tell them that they are loved and valuable. That they get to know and feel God’s love. I love to hug them. God is filling me with so much love for the women and families here! It’s overwhelming to see how God is working through me.
What’s the hardest part of your work here?
That I am still the foreigner here. People often see me as someone who can help them financially or with things like that. That’s something I have to be very clear about with them: I share God’s truth and love but I don’t have the money to give.
Language barriers can also be hard. They don’t always speak very good Spanish as they speak the dialects of the area. But through our behaviour, through our actions, we can reach them all a lot.
How have the women’s lives been changed through this project?
One afternoon we talked about how “the Joy of the Lord is my strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)
So I asked them: “What makes you happy, what gives you joy?”
One woman said: “My husband always said that my place was in the house; you raise the kids, cook and clean the house, that is your job.” This made her very sad. But after she started coming to the women’s group she said, “Wow! To find out that we are not only made for working in our own house, but we matter too, God has more for us, He loves us and we are valuable too – this gives me so much joy and positivity to keep going!”
One woman said, and all the other women agreed: “To find out that we can make things, that God really gave us gifts besides raising families – it’s not only hearing it, but also experiencing it. It gives me so much joy.”
One crying woman said: “I never knew how to hug… I never received it as a child and I never gave it to my children. But since I have been at the women’s program, I learned how to give hugs – what a difference it makes!”
To find out that they can make things, to hear that they are valuable, to experience and hear how God loves them and cares about them – it really gives them a new perspective and positive energy. It makes them hungry for more. It teaches them to receive and to give.
By running the ‘Restoring your heart’ course we would like to help them with healing from their wounds. They have been through so many things in their life. My prayer is that they will get to know Christ and start living how God wants them to: freedom from pain and in healthy ways.
How does The Freedom Challenge support your work?
Thanks to The Freedom Challenge we have a chance to reach out to these women and help them find their purpose. We can help them through these courses and training. They can know freedom from oppression and freedom from past abuse, freedom from a life of alcohol and drugs, freedom from witchcraft. They can move out of this darkness into the light of Christ!
What keeps you motivated?
It’s not always easy to work as a missionary. The more you work with and for God, the more the devil tries to attack. During a hard time this year, a friend of mine sent this message to me and it really touched me: “We have to stand firm. Don’t stop or change because it’s getting hard, because if God called you to do something, it is for a reason.”
I know I am called to reach out and help the women who don’t have a voice here. That’s why God sent me here and wants to use me here. It is all in God’s plan and I just have to obey!
Thanks to your support Benthe and others can continue to reach out to women and bring hope to broken lives!