Oh so many years ago, when we first arrived in Costa Rica, God opened up an opportunity for us to lead a bible study in our neighborhood. This particular bible study was unique to anything we had ever experienced before, and has proven to be something that was definitely God designed, God led, and blessed by God.
An expat family in our neighborhood who we had become close with asked us if we would meet with them each week to help them to understand the Bible for themselves … a great opportunity handed to us by the Lord! Of course, we were thrilled to do it, yet had no idea what God would do through what He had laid out before us.
This particular expat family had several rental properties, and were always in the middle of a project of some sort. The great part about what they were doing was that they were able to employ many locals in our neighborhood who were in desperate need of work. In their excitement about the bible study and their personal eagerness to dig in to God’s Word for themselves, they would joyfully invite each of the Costa Rican workers to the Bible Study each week. Keep in mind that the Bible Study was in English, because the family was a family of native English speakers. The workers began faithfully coming to the bible study, some bringing their entire family (brothers, sisters, children – the works) each time we met. It was incredible watching them faithfully come week after week, allowing us to get to know the heartbeat of where God had placed us. Little did we realize at the time that the workers were coming because they thought that attending the bible study was a condition of their employment!!!
At the beginning of our meeting together, we were grateful that God had also provided one man who was bilingual. We were still in the beginning phases of learning Spanish well, so this was a great benefit to us – it’s not easy to teach and or translate the bible into a language that is not your own, especially when you don’t have a strong handle on the language and biblical terms yet! This young gentleman was happy to help us out and led the Spanish speaking table during our time together the first few months. So there we were … new to the neighborhood, filling up two large tables each week – one with English speakers, and one with our Spanish speaking neighbors – studying the Word of God in more than one language. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of.
As time went on, and our language skills improved, we were able to begin leading the Spanish speaking table as well. This is when we saw God begin to do some amazing things. One Costa Rican man in particular came faithfully each week. Bringing his wife and 2 little boys, they would sit at our Spanish table and would listen to the teaching – all while we got to know them, sure to listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance. It became obvious that he was there because of the employment, and when he would share, that his wife had no great amount of respect for him or in what he was saying – she gave off the vibe like everything coming out of his mouth was all just for show. As the weeks went on, we got to know them more on a personal level, and began discipling them more individually. Week after week, you could see the Holy Spirit doing a work in each one of the family members, particularly in the man. When the Holy Spirit was working, his speech would be as honey as he shared what he was learning, or what a verse meant to him – it was as if you could physically see the transformation occurring week after week. With time, the softness and openness began being obvious in the woman as well. God was doing something mighty through the study of His Word, and the privilege of sitting with them, teaching them, praying with them and having them become like family to us left us awestruck at God and His plan for each one of us.
Soon we were trusted by even their extended families, and they began sharing their past – what stories they had to tell! The most beautiful part of it all was that as they were being transformed by the love of Christ, they were being watched by the entire neighborhood. No one understood what was happening, and how this man could be living like he was now – the complete opposite of who he used to be! The couple got married, began leading their friends and families at a bible study in their own home during a different time of each week, while continuing to meet for discipleship with our family. The day that they asked to be baptized is a day we will never forget. We joined together down at a river near our house, and witnessed their public declaration to their commitment to Jesus Christ – they have never turned back!
The Lord even used a ministry event that we were hosting to provide a way for the young man to preach for the first time – what a day that was!
Over the years we have met with them and other believers in Christ in our neighborhood at a Spanish speaking Christian church, and eventually they became elders and leaders in that little congregation. Moving on to a larger congregation closer to town which provided them an opportunity for more growth, he began studying as he had felt the call to be a pastor. Since then, their faith has grown, many in their extended families have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and they are a force for the Lord!
Just this last week, we got a phone call from this family to let us know that they had been offered a position as pastors to start up a new congregation in another area near us. Imagine our joy as we were told this news – the flashes of all of those years ago when they came to study God’s Word with us out of ‘obligation’, and how God used that for His will in their lives and His glory! There have been many great things that God has done in our lives, but the honor of being allowed to know this family and watch God’s mighty hand in their lives and the lives of others they are touching is indescribable.
Never underestimate the plan that God has with even the smallest of things in your life. Remain open to everything He asks you to do, especially the things you have no qualification for by the world’s standards!
Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ.”
Please consider partnering with us as we continue to work with and support the work that God is doing through this new congregation and the church they are building for the people of San Ramon, Costa Rica.