Matthew 28:18-20 reads:
Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
“There’s plenty to do right here at home!” No doubt, some may be wondering why go so far away when there is so much to do in our own community, among our own neighbors. Leaving your comfort zone, leaving the everyday stuff of life allows God unique opportunities to challenge and grow His people! It is a time of focusing on what God wants to do in and through every individual participating. Meeting God in these ways is life-changing!
Why Costa Rica?
The growing church movement in Costa Rica actually began indirectly as a result of the events of 9/11. Eduardo Castilo had been in the United States since 1999 training to become a Hispanic church planter with the Rocky Mountain District of the EFCA. Following 9/11, immigration issues forced Eduardo to return to Costa Rica. Once back home, the training he had received in the US prepared him to train pastors and church leaders on the process of planting and growing healthy churches. The movement began!
As the local church in Costa Rica experienced explosive growth, it became evident that Costa Rica was a missions field ripe for harvest. However, as new converts to the Christian faith, there were few equipped to lead the ever-increasing local churches. The Costa Rica church desperately needed leaders to train their leaders. Pastor Mark became acquainted with what was happening in Costa Rica while serving on the Rocky Mountain District of the EFCA board.
The first SHEF team to travel to Costa Rica had a dual purpose: to bring materials and teaching for leadership training for local church leaders, and to meet the needs for home improvement for Pastor Jose Gonzales and his family. By day the team worked on an addition to Pastor Jose’s home that would nearly double the size of his family of seven’s modest home. By night, Pastor Mark taught local church leaders and pastors.
The second missions team continued with home improvements for the Gonzales family, adding a garage and safe area to park their vehicles to the front of their home. Church leadership training expanded to include Pastor Mark and a second team member, as well as bringing that training to additional cities in Costa Rica.
Why Pastor Jose?
Under the careful discipleship of Eduardo, Pastor Jose Gonzales emerged as a true disciple, leader and church planter. He has a heart for sharing the gospel with all he encounters and is committed to developing healthy church leaders in his and neighboring countries. Pastor Jose serves with his lovely wife, Gabriella, and five children: Michael, Jason, Andreas, Sharon and Dyana. SHEF Church has felt led to specifically to help meet the needs of this pastoral family so they are free to follow God’s call on their lives.
Why an ongoing relationship?
“Making disciples” takes time and commitment! SHEF Church continues to support Pastor Jose in his role of “recruiting, certifying, and maximizing the potential of leaders and pastors in Costa Rica” by providing quarterly financial support. A third missions team is in the planning stages for the winter of 2011. SHEF Church’s desire is to maintain existing relationships with the Costa Rican church and continue to develop new relationships. We have a common bond in the Spirit that overcomes miles, language, and culture!