Costa Rica (2017)

Historic! – That is what the pastors said…

This past January we had the opportunity to take a team to Santa Maria De Dota in the mountains of Costa Rica. What a great experience with God! I remember this past year of preparing for this Mission Week and Festival. I recall the first time driving up those winding mountain roads and meeting with the pastors in the area. I am so thankful for the families I’ve met and prayed with, the people we’ve helped with food and other needed resources, and especially the pastors that God has blessed through all our work. I now have life-long relationships in those mountains where some of the best coffee in the world is grown. One pastor and his family have a special place in my heart. It is a desire of mine to keep myself, my family, and Ripe 4 Life ministries in contact with him and his church.  His name is Pablo Chacon and the name of his church is “Vino Nuevo” that is “New Wine” church. Perhaps we can add a new dimension of ministry to Ripe 4 Life by adopting and helping his church? However, all of that is in God’s hands. I will write more about Pastor Pablo and his church in future newsletters.  Now it is time to write about our incredible week, the festival, and all that God has done!

The entrance to Pastor Pablo's church - New Wine

I am going to give you the synopsis in bullet points by each day of the week. Hopefully I’ll be able to share enough with you by using this format. Remember, I’ll be writing more in future newsletters…

Friday 20th We landed in San Jose, Costa Rica and were picked up at the airport at 1:30 am - actually on the 21st. We drove to the place where we were staying and crashed for the night.

Saturday 21st That night I preached a message about “Spiritual Warfare” at Pastor Pablo’s church. Probably the most powerful move of God was in one of our teammates life and ministry. LeAnn Woodard has a beautiful singing voice plus she can sing in Spanish. On this night, she sung two songs for the congregation. Their church meets in a small metal building on the side of a mountain. This is the very first time she has sang for Jesus in a public format as a solo artist/worship leader. She did great! It is always exciting for me when we can be a part of allowing others to be used by God. I enjoy seeing them flourish with the gifts and talents God has given. I have a feeling that God has much more in store for LeAnn. 

Sunday 22nd This day we visited the central park in Santa Maria De Dota. This is the location where we held the festival. Also we held evangelism training sessions with a group from the various churches that were involved with the festival. These trainings were held in the Assembly of God church in that town. I had an encouraging meeting and prayer time with the all the pastors. That night we had the privilege of meeting one of our friend’s family. His name is Juan Arce. He was our driver, and one of the interpreters utilized this week. Another teammate named Frances Mace was led by the Lord to pray for Juan’s mother “Elida”. Elida recently lost her husband. It was a powerful night of fellowship and ministry.    

Monday 23rd We bought groceries and school supplies for families in the mountains. We also got the opportunity to do some home visits as part of our ministry. The intention of home visits is to pray and encourage those that are going through some tough times. One young lady we met was named Andrea. She has six children without a father at home. She is going to need more help to continue paying rent on the house in which they are living. Please pray for her and her precious children.

At the radio station

Tuesday 24th Back in the mountains we visited a local radio show where I had the honor to share a message about Jesus’ love for all people and give the Gospel. In addition, LeAnn sang a song, and Frances had a chance to pray over the airwaves. The pastor used this as an opportunity to promote the upcoming festival. Also, on this day, I shot a commercial in a local TV studio for the festival. The rest of our team arrived this evening.

Wednesday 25th We stayed in the city of San Jose today and began doing the smaller street and park outreaches with the Benedict family, BMX guys, and others.  During our homes visits we went to a couple of inner city slum areas. One lady was needing a walkway through where their homes are located in order to get to stores and even get medical attention. We met a young man named Joaquin who was formerly a transvestite but Jesus saved him and he now pastors a growing church in one of the toughest slum areas of the city. LeAnn has written a great piece about him and his ministry that I’ll share in a future newsletter. That evening we went to a church in the mountains where I preached a message about “servant leadership”. LeAnn sang again, and all the ladies (Frances, Carla, Caryn) got to share a little.    

Thursday 26th We did a street outreach while the coffee festival was happening in the town of San Pablo. This night we attended Hosanna church in Bustamante.  Caryn gave her testimony, Ben and LeAnn sang, and I preached. 

Christian BMX pro David Clay at the festival

Friday 27th We ate at Pastor Pablo’s and Nidia’s home in San Andres. Afterward we went on more home visits where in one home we met Carmen. Carmen is a young woman who is dying with cancer. We prayed for her to be healed and we also prayed with her husband and her young son named Steven. Miss Frances prayed with the husband and a spiritual gift manifested. This man does not speak or understand English, but Frances said that she was talking to him and they had a conversation and prayer in English. Wow, the God of the Bible is the same God today. This evening we did another outreach in the local school of San Andres. 

Saturday 28th We picked up Pablo Delgado, our other interpreter and friend. Then we drove back up the mountain and did another street outreach at a community fair. After the outreach, we ate at an authentic corner café. The food and coffee are delicious in Costa Rica. That night I preached at another church in the mountains. The prayer and worship time was very powerful this night. There was no doubt that we felt the Holy Spirit moving during this service. We spent the night at Pastor Pablo’s home in San Andres.

Sunday 29th We got up and had breakfast with Pastor Pablo, his sweet family, and our team. I studied, prayed, and prepared for preaching two messages at the festival this day. I preached once in the middle of the day, and once at night. It was an exciting day to be serving our Lord. Below is how the festival progressed…

1st portion of the day:

1:00 – 1:30 Ministry for the children. The Benedict Family did a fantastic job.

1:40 – 2:20 Worship ministry with a local church and a wonderful worship team.

2:25 – 2:30 A special song with LeAnn and Ben.

2:30 – 3:00 BMX professionals Vic Murphy and David Clay along with local BMX riders. Vic gave his testimony.

3:00 – 3:30 Paul Durham preached a Gospel message with invitation.

3:30 – 4:00 Special Guest Singer Victor Zuniga performed.

2nd portion of the day:

4:10 – 4:40 Ministry for the children. The Benedict Family did another fantastic job.

4:50 – 5:30 Worship ministry with a different local church and another wonderful worship team.

5:40 – 5:50 A local Mariachi Band performed.

5:50 – 6:00 Justin Benedict did a rocking music set.

6:00 – 7:00 The local pastors prayed for the community, families, churches, government officials and everyone. We took this time to be quieter and respect the Catholic Church service that was taking place across the street.

7:00 – 7:30 Special Guest Singer Victor Zuniga performed.

Preaching at the festival that night

7:40 – 8:20 BMX professionals Vic Murphy and David Clay along with local BMX riders. Vic gave his testimony.

8:20 – 8:50 Paul Durham preached a Gospel message with invitation.

9:00 – 9:30 Special Guest Singer Ricky Halley performed.

9:30 – Thank you to the local pastors and closing prayer with Paul Durham.

The pastors were very excited about what God had done is this small mountain town of Santa Maria De Dota. In a small (*Catholic dominated) town with a population of 4000, we gathered over 600 in the community park with 57 decision cards filled out of those making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The pastors told us it was the largest gathering they ever seen in the park. The terminology they used was; it’s a “historic” event. I would say this is the most impactful mission and festival that Ripe 4 Life has ever done. It’s not the largest gathering of people we have ever been a part of, but I do believe the most impactful. In addition, I love these small town rural areas. This is what God has called Ripe 4 Life (and myself) to do.