"Preach the Gospel to all creation" Mark 16:15
|Costa Rica 2000: Harmony into the Millennium|
January 2-9, 2000
JT: The Flowers are Blooming
Our Costa Rica 2000 crusade was one on great harmony, achievement, and beauty. Harmony in that our team of 26 worked and lived together as a family under God’s umbrella of grace. Achievement in that our VBS team ministered to over 60 children per day. Our construction team built a 20-meter long cement block wall on the new church in Sarchi and our evangelism team shared the gospel over 460 times and saw 297 people make decisions for Christ. Praise be to God for harmony and achievement.
I saw beauty as well. Not just in the startling array of Costa Rican flowering plants and trees, not just in the wind-swept sugar cane fields or in the volcano studded skyline. I saw beauty in people’s lives. I saw them not only growing in the Lord but even blooming for Him. New believers now active members in their local churches, seasoned believers now sharing the gospel in their communities, pastors now wanting to expand their impact to unchurched communities, and short-term missionaries now aware of God’s hand at work in and through them. Flowers of all types are in full bloom in Costa Rica!
SH: A Tugging Heart
This trip to Costa Rica impressed on me the unity that is achieved when all are of one spirit. Some were serving in construction, some in VBS, some in evangelism. People from a vast array of professions, all serving as one for Christ. Although nearly 300 people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior on this trip, one visit brought a question to my mind, why? Why do people reject the Love of the one who gave His life for them? We visited a lady in her 80s who was caught up in ritualism and tradition. We showed her from her own Bible how she could know for certain that she would go to heaven. Although she desired truth, we could see a struggle in her eyes; she couldn’t let go of her traditions. This reminds me of how strong Satan’s foothold is on those that sincerely believe that "they are doing rightly by God." My desire to help others find a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and grow substantially in Him. There are so many ways one sees God work on a mission trip, but this particular visit tugs on my heart with each new person I meet. (1 Timothy 2:5)
When we are faithful with a little, God trusts us with a lot. This mission trip to Costa Rica, God seemed to be inviting us to test him in this so that he could bless us greatly.
For the first time, my sister came on an international mission trip. It was great to see how well she fit in and how much she enjoyed the experience. She can’t wait to come back next year.
For the first time, my son preached in Costa Rica. He addressed some of the same brethren that his grandfather preached to before he passed from the "land of the dying" to the "land of the living." He is the first preacher we have brought that did not need a translator, and interestingly, of all the Spanish-speaking members of the group, he is the only one with a Costa Rican accent.
For the first time, we participated in a Vacation Bible School. We were rewarded with the opportunity to minister to almost 100 elementary school kids.
For the first time, we laid concrete blocks ourselves instead of helping local block layers. Another first was that one of our block layers was a female. Her valiant efforts did not go unnoticed by our Costa Rican friends who soon tabbed her "La muchacha valiente."
There were many other "firsts" that were equally as exciting and which served to remind us of what is promised to those who put God first above all.
The Lord blessed us once again in Costa Rica. He added hundreds to His Kingdom again this year.
As in previous evangelism efforts, the local Costa Rican evangelical church poured out support and assistance. I was blessed personally by renewing old friendships with my Costa Rican brothers and sisters in Christ. Even though I do not speak Spanish, I grew to love the church members from Candelaria who evangelized with us, fed us, prayed with us and for us, and gave us a place to rest at the end of the day.
The single most gratifying part of this mission trip for me involved the spiritual growth of two sixteen-year-old girls who became Christians during our previous evangelism efforts. Last year we lead them in prayer for forgiveness of their sins, and they trusted Jesus as their savior. Both of them worked as evangelists this year leading many others to the Lord. It was a tremendous blessing for me to see the obedience to the Great Commission of these young ladies. This trip was an unexpected opportunity and challenge for me to train younger, newer evangelists--both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking. I challenge you who read this to learn to share your faith in Christ clearly, prepare to teach others to share Christ, and to get a passport (II Timothy 2:2)
JK: Attention to Detail
Helping spread the gospel in Costa Rica with Good News International was a great blessing for me. I went as a translator on the evangelism team. I must boast about what the LORD did through my teammates. Steve, the evangelist for whom I translated during door-to-door visitation, truly has a heart for the lost. His sense of urgency about sharing the gospel, is something that I needed to see in action. It was a special blessing working with him and Erika, a local Costa Rican teenager from our host church.
Costa Ricans certainly speak Spanish rapidly, even more so than Mexicans or Ecuadorians! This is why 15-year-old Ericka was invaluable helping me to translate. She listened very attentively to me
and to the those we witnessed to, helping me to both speak properly in Spanish and to understand when people spoke Spanish too fast. Ericka’s winsome smile and gentle voice gave the gospel a soft expression needed for conveying the message lovingly.
During door-to-door visitation in Costa Rica, it was refreshing witnessing to people who understand and agree that all people are sinners and need a Savior. On two afternoons, Ericka could not go door-to-door, leaving just Steve and I to go by ourselves. In those times, God helped me to hear and translate properly without Ericka present. One of the two afternoons was that tough day when only two people elected to receive Christ—one in the morning, and one that afternoon. This means that God did as much that afternoon as he did during the morning when Ericka was present. The next time that Ericka could not come in the afternoon, six people received Christ, including a family of five. Who knows how many more might have accepted Him, had she been able to come that day?
God deals with the details. My health was sustained throughout the trip, thanks to God. The kitchen staff was outstanding. They worked hard to ensure that I was fed well, despite my food allergies. All of this they did in an un-complaining, cheerful, loving manner. I asked the Lord to awaken me early every morning and He did. Another small detail that God dealt with, was the midday heat. He provided cloud cover several afternoons, and cool winds on one unseasonably brisk day. Praise God for His attention to detail.
MV: Like Little Children
This year’s Costa Rican mission trip was a little bit different from the past. For the first time we had a Vacation Bible School for the local children. Being that it was the first time we did VBS, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. During the first day on the job, I fell in love with each and every one of those children. I worked personally with the three and four year olds. However, I got to know each and everyone of them since I also translated for the crafts. Each child was so eager to learn, and so full of God’s love. They all came in everyday and were just completely ready to sing, praise, and learn about God. Then I remembered that God commands us to be like little children. God wanted ME to be like these little eight and nine year olds, running inside the church, anxious to hear about God,
year olds, running inside the church, anxious to hear about God, completely attentive to every word spoken. That’s what I learned, to be like these children, to be so excited to hear God’s word that I can hardly wait to praise him, to love God so much I have to share with someone else. It humbled me to work with the Costa Rican children and the local women. I learned that I have a lot of blessings in my life, some I take for granted and shouldn’t. I also learned that God can use even the smallest child to touch another’s heart. It was a time I will never forget, and I look forward to next year’s trip to see what God will show me then!
KB: Used for His Glory
This was my first trip to Costa Rica, and it was a new experience for me. I had been on several other mission trips, but this one was different than the rest. On previous trips, I had mostly participated in Vacation Bible School, but in Costa Rica, my focus was door-to-door evangelism. I was on a team with several other people, and we went knocking on doors telling people about Jesus.
My first day was rough. I was scared to knock on someone’s door and just start talking with them about how to become a Christian. I was blessed with wonderful team members who had a lot more courage than I did, and they patiently trained me that first morning. The first afternoon, I began to talk with people and share with them. I was praying with a couple who wanted to receive Christ, and I heard their voices, as well as 3 others, repeating the prayer.
I knew at that moment that no matter how scared and insecure I felt, God was using me to reach people. I had no idea that as I had been talking and sharing with the couple about the free gift of eternal life, three of the couple’s children had been listening also. They too wanted to know Jesus.
As we continued visiting in different homes, we came across the same response time and time again. When asked if the people wanted to receive the free gift that God gives, the answer was often "Of course." People were hungry for Christ…they just needed someone to come share with them. Now of course not everyone was open to receive Christ, but just seeing one person begin a relationship with Him made the entire trip worth it.
Throughout the trip, I saw many people give their lives to Christ. Although I was hesitant at first, and lacked the confidence to share, God used me. He used me for His glory, and I am thankful for the part I got to share in His work.