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Flowery Branch couple feel summoned to serve God

Family is preparing to become missionaries in Costa Rica

POSTED: June 28, 2014 1:00 a.m.

The journey of 3,200 miles begins with a single yard sale.

“This was part one of getting rid of everything we own, basically,” said Laura Andrew of Flowery Branch. “We’ve been accumulating stuff and stuff and stuff. So it’s been a pretty overwhelming idea to say, ‘OK, we’re going to be moving hopefully by November.’”

The Andrew family — Laura; her husband, Rodney; and their daughters, Stella, 6, and Annabelle, 4 — are preparing for the move of a lifetime. They are packing what they can into eight suitcases, getting rid of the rest of their possessions and taking a one-way trip to Costa Rica, hopefully this November.

“I’ve been three times; she’s been twice,” Rodney Andrew said about Jaco, the Costa Rican city where they plan to live, close to the Pacific Ocean. “Most people have this rose-colored lens idea of what Costa Rica is, and on the resort ... you can go there and get all-inclusive, that kind of thing, and never really see what’s going on in some of the cities.”

“What’s going on” is what concerns the Andrew family. Drug trafficking is one of the main problems. Prostitution, legal in Costa Rica, is rampant.

“Anywhere where that is socially acceptable and is not against the law, it goes all the way down to children,” Rodney Andrew said. “The town is basically, the way I describe it is, once the light goes out it’s like New Orleans with no laws. There’s a great need there.”

As evangelical Christians — the Andrews belong to Cross Pointe Church in Duluth — they hope to fill that need.

“We’ll be involved with a local church down there that has a program for at-risk teens,” Laura Andrew said, describing Iglesia Radical (known as Radical Life Ministries in the United States).

While working with children, the couple want to develop a ministry reaching out to women in the prostitution trade.

“(We want to) help them through that process of being restored, and try to find an alternative way of supporting themselves,” Laura said.

Their long-term vision is to run a facility for children rescued from sex trafficking, as well as a day program for at-risk youth.

The Andrews have worked as missionaries before, but this time is different. This is a permanent move, stemmed by what they feel is a true calling from God.

“This is about God,” Rodney Andrew said. “This is not about us just going to flutter around. It is a call on our lives.

“When you look at the disciples, when Jesus called them, it was a summons on their lives,” he added. “It was not an invitation ... to pray a prayer.”

“And, short term, you can only get so invested in people’s lives,” Laura said. “Short-term trips, you go, you’re there for a week and you do a few things, and they see your face. It’s good, but you can’t ever make the deep, lasting connections. We see this as we’re investing ourselves fully into working with teenagers and the people in the area. We want to establish roots there and make our home there and be one of them.”

The Andrews have been called into mission work for the past seven years, having survived trials in their early adult years. Laura Andrew said she and her husband have struggled through addictions and were redeemed through God.

“We’ve been damaged in ways,” Rodney Andrew said. “We’ve lived life and we have, I guess you could say, a colorful past that God has redeemed for his good. Romans 8:28 says ‘In all things, God works for the good of those who love him and been called according to his purpose.’ We believe that. Areas that God has restored in our hearts have turned into ministry.”

“We’ve kind of been through that brokenness, and then restored and everything through our relationship with God and Jesus,” Laura said.

Bordered by Nicaragua and Panama, the country in Central America has the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Christianity is dominant, with Catholicism recognized as the official religion. The primary language is Spanish — Laura Andrew majored in Spanish, while Rodney plans to learn — and the country itself has a high literacy rate and relatively decent health care.

Some conveniences include a traditional grocery store and even a Kentucky Fried Chicken location. But life there won’t be without challenges, especially financial ones. Gas prices exceed $7 per gallon. Air conditioning is available, but it’s expensive to run it.

“There are things that are less expensive, and things that are more,” Rodney Andrew said. “Our friends that just run their air conditioning at night and have a moderate-sized home, they said that their power bill is $300 or more a month. ... It starts adding up real quick.”

As for their two daughters, they’re looking forward to the warm temperatures and beaches of their soon-to-be home.

“Seeing all the birds,” Stella, a student at Spout Springs School of Enrichment, said about what she anticipates. “I like cardinals.”

And Annabelle has only one thing on her mind.

“The beach,” she said, adding she’s going to learn how to surf.

The Andrews anticipate a monthly budget ranging from $3,500 to $5,000 a month — the $5,000 monthly budget will allow them to send their daughters to a school in the area. Otherwise, Laura plans to home-school.

As independent missionaries, the Andrews must raise the funds on their own.

Donations can be made through the nonprofit Commission to Every Nation. CTEN serves as the go-between organization, so people can make tax-deductible donations to independent missionaries.

“We’re not counselors, we’re not psychologists, we don’t have any kind of special degrees in social work or anything like that,” Laura Andrew said. “We’re just regular people. We’ve had our own struggles in our lives that we’ve overcome through our relationship with Jesus Christ. We just want to be able to pass that along and walk with people through the same kind of struggles and situations.”

“We’re going to really just trust in the Lord and kind of weave our way through it,” Rodney added.


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