I love missions trips! Nothing fuels passion and inspires action like getting out of our daily routines and into the harvest fields. This November, from our Church in Kimberley, we took a team of six people to Costa Rica. For four of those, it was the very first mission trip they have been a part of.
For myself, this was my first opportunity to get back into missions since returning from Botswana. Also, this was the very first missions’ trip that our church has ever done. Earlier this year God had pressed on my heart that it was time to get back into missions and to take our church on a missions trip. So, instead of just talking about it as a church and discussing it we were immediately obedient and we set a date. Our church was inspired and soon we had people committed to go. We spoke with John Overholt about coming alongside him and blessing the work in Costa Rica that he had been a part of. He agreed to lead our team down to Costa Rica and we began preparations.
Our goal for this trip was to survey what the needs were and what opportunities there were for ongoing trips to Costa Rica. We wanted to have John introduce us to the people he had worked with so that we could build relationships as well. We did just that, we built wonderful relationships with the pastors and leaders in Costa Rica and discovered a love and a passion for the work there that will result in future trips.
Our team went to bless the churches. We were convinced that the best thing we could do was to shore up the leaders and churches and bless them the best we knew how. What we loved about our trip is that we never stole the show as the white missionaries. It was never about us or what we could do, it was about assisting the leaders that were there. All we did was to help enable the church to be a light in their community. We loved going to each church and watching the leaders shine in their callings and in their own context of ministry. We loved helping the members of the church do more ministry than they thought they could do on their own. At the end of this trip they were encouraged and strengthened and we were inspired to do more in our own community once we returned home.
There are a few things that were highlights to me. One highlight for me was how we all worked together for the Gospel. We were doing church as a team. Everyone played to their strengths, whether that was our Canadian team or the Costa Rican’s, we all encouraged each other and we did the mission together. I was inspired because that is what church is about and I loved how we could function as a unified team even cross-culturally, even with a language barrier.
Another highlight was walking around door-to-door in Martina Bustos sharing the Gospel. In total our team led seven people to Jesus. The team I was a part of saw four people give their lives to Jesus. What was amazing and life-changing for me was watching the Holy Spirit work. As we shared the gospel you could tangibly see on their face a change. From skepticism, to conviction, to a Holy Spirit awakened moment when they were ready to make that decision for Jesus. It was an amazing thing to watch. Our team was so inspired and asked, “Why can’t we do this in Canada?” That’s just the thing…we can. Our trouble is that we stop well short. We are content to share a little bit, maybe be brave enough to tell people we go to church. We are content to say a silent prayer for people and hope they will make a decision because they see our lifestyle is different. Yet, faith comes by hearing. I watched the Holy Spirit at work in each person and I saw that moment when the lights came on and I realized that in Canada we stop sharing way too soon. These four people: Nina, Hansel, Carlos and Fanny all made a decision that day and we were able to get them connected to the Foursquare Church in Martina Bustos and Pastor Juan.
The greatest thing that I took away from this trip was not that it is easier to lead people to Jesus in a foreign land as some people protest, but that in Canada we just don’t do it enough. We stop short. The reason we could lead people to Jesus when we didn’t speak the language was not because we had the right words, but because we were obedient to the Holy Spirit. I am convinced that when the Holy Spirit is at work, people will respond. It does not mater how we ramble or bumble our way through our presentation of the Gospel because it is not dependent on what we say but the inner work of Holy Spirit. What we need to do is get close to where the Holy Spirit is working and be obedient.
Another highlight was just how practical we got to be in ministering in Costa Rica. We were able to help the churches feed more than 650 people in community meals. We handed out clothes, glasses, and supplies to people who had been affected by the recent flooding. We were able to build on what another team did and to help finish a church building. We were able to help provide water filtration systems for people whose wells had been contaminated by the floods. One church family had lost their beds in the floods and we were able to go that day get them new beds and set them up for them. We were able to respond to the needs as they arose. It felt so good to be a practical help to people and to see and affect change in a practical way.
Lastly, I discovered that just like in Canada, Pastors of churches with modest attendance have a tendency to judge the effectiveness of their ministry by the size of their congregation. During our pastors training time, one Pastor said to me, “I have a small church.” I responded to them and said, “You do not have a small church; you have a big church. Your church is big in love, big in grace, big in faith, big in hospitality, big in generosity and God absolutely loves your church.” The churches where we were in Costa Rica may not have hundreds of members in each but they sure are “big” in God’s eyes. They are doing “big” work for the Kingdom. I am so glad to have had my eyes and my heart expanded by the wonderful work of God in Costa Rica. I love missions trips! Our Costa Rica trip has fueled a passion for the lost and inspired our church to do more outreach in our community.
by Tyler Jorgensen