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29 June 2011

Heartbroken for Mexico

Heartbroken for Mexico

"God allowed me to see these kids how He sees them, and to say my heart broke is an understatement…I know it's that pain and deep sense of call that keeps [us] going on the days when we feel like giving up." - Steve Cosslett

Most families find enough difficulties throughout the day without the pressing burden of 800,000 poverty-ridden Mexico City children on their hearts. And yet here is the passion of Steve and Helen Cosslett, and they are no ordinary family.

The Cossletts, in partnership with One Mission Society (OMS) have been in Mexico City for one year and are coming back to the UK in July for a nine-month home assignment before returning to Mexico where they lead a project for street kids.

Proyecto MEFI (Mercy, Esperanza (hope), Faith, and Integration) plays off the name "Mephibosheth" from 2 Samuel 9. This story of mercy and compassion has been a model to the Cossletts in forming this project.

Mexico entered Helen's radar in 1998 when she was there for 15 months working with street children. Helen saw the need for a project aimed to embrace these children who had been pushed away, and knew she couldn't do it alone. A few years later, she partnered with OMS to develop MEFI.

Following her 15-month stint, Helen had organised several short-term trips to Mexico with her church, Evangelical Alliance member Upton Vale Baptist Church in Torquay, which is how she met Steve. A couple of years later, Steve says: "God put a spark for each other in our hearts that wasn't there before." The two were married in 2005.

Among the many initiatives of MEFI, one of the most inspiring is the drop-in centre, a place where any young person can be welcomed in, fed, clothed, taught the Bible as well as general education.

"Sharing the gospel with these kids without meeting their physical needs is not biblical," says Steve in simple explanation. He adds: "Most are…malnourished physically, but their outward appearance is indicative of their spiritual needs as well."

Steve and Helen along with their young daughters, Nisha and Anya, spend their days among the homeless and marginalised. Says Steve: "So many of them are losing their lives to gang violence, drug abuse or just the conditions they live in that make them prone to illness and accidents."

The couple also support several individuals through rehabilitation. "We…help them integrate into society, help them find a place to rent, help them find a job, a church and in some cases re-unite them with their families," Steve says. "We actually have a future vision to build our own rehab centre outside the city."

The Cossletts tell about one girl, "Julia," who the drop-in centre took in from the streets and helped through rehab twice, though she returned to the streets both times. "Finally, she asked some of our Mexican co-workers just over a year ago to help her again as she discovered she was pregnant," explains Steve. "She was there just over a year, gave birth to a beautiful little girl…and developed some really close relationships in the centre."

"Julia" recently went out to find her daughter's father (who had also been living on the streets), hoping to pick up the pieces of her family, only to learn from her former gang that he had been murdered a year before.

"A lot of her dreams have been shattered again, but this time she has a strong faith and cried out to God in her distress," Steve says. The Cossletts are helping "Julia" and her daughter find a home until she can support herself.

The Cossletts will return to Mexico for lost vagrants like Julia. It is clear that these people need someone to be there for them, even when they fail, and the Cossletts are modelling Christ by doing this day after day.

For more information on the Cosslett family, visit thecossletts.com