God Is Moving In Costa Rica
Mike Rhoades | May 21, 2015
Pastor Jose Diaz Blas knew he could not keep Praying Pelican Missions to himself. The heart of his church in the city of Libera, Costa Rica had always been to share with the rural churches in his country.
So when a Praying Pelican Missions team of 70 came to do construction work at his church in 2013, he sent some of the team to visit Pastor Edgar Bonilla in the small town of Lagunilla.
Pastor Bonilla’s church building had been destroyed in a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in September 2012, shortly after he had moved to Lagunilla as a first-time pastor. His house had also been damaged. When Praying Pelican Missions staff arrived with the team and saw the extent of the damage, they knew another team would need to return the next summer to help rebuild the church. In the meantime, other churches in Costa Rica raised money to fix his house.
In the summer of 2014 Praying Pelican Missions brought two churches from the USA who dug the footers for the church and laid its foundation. Over the winter, Costa Rican churches pitched in and helped Pastor Bonilla start building the walls for the church.
“It’s a very poor area of Costa Rica,” said Jacob Morgan, Costa Rica Operations Manager for Praying Pelican Missions. “They didn’t know how they were going to be able to do it before they met Praying Pelican.”
Pastor Bonilla’s faithful congregation will continue to meet in a lean-to until enough donations are made to complete the building.
Palos Heights Christian Reformed Church of Palos Heights, Ill. was one of the teams who helped lay the foundation of the church. Pastor Bonilla joined the team in the trenches as they dug the foundation for his church.
“It was humbling to see the passion he has for his church and the vision he has for ministry in that community,” said Jeremy Oosterhouse, Student Ministries Director.
The team also put on a vacation Bible school for the children of La Gunilla. 80 children and 20 parents participated.
“Almost all of the parents took opportunity to come up and to thank us for our time that we were there,” said Oosterhouse. “They were so thankful that we would care enough about them to take time away from our busy lives back here and be there.”
Several of the families who were impacted by the VBS were not previously aware of Pastor Bonilla’s church, because it is small and has no building. Palos Heights was able to direct people in the community to stay connected with Pastor Bonilla’s ministry.
Oosterhouse told community members: “His ministry is going to continue after we are done. We are serving with him and for him.”
Building relationships and building churches go hand-in-hand in Costa Rica. The needs for partnership in constructing church buildings are high across the country.
“We have several churches that are needing to be built,” said Morgan. The government of Costa Rica is ruthless with requirements and health inspections. It attempts to shut churches down for simple issues like bathrooms not being up to code and not having handicapped accessibility.
“There are plenty of projects in the 1500 dollar range that are literally what will make the difference between a church getting an okay from the government inspector versus them not,” said Laura Yoch, Consulting Coordinator for Praying Pelican Missions. “The difference a team makes with a small project is just huge.”
About the Author:
Sara Marie Spaulding is a journalist and missions enthusiast. She began her writing career at the Williston Herald in the oil boom town of Williston, N.D. She has also written for the Anoka County Union Herald in Anoka, Minn. and the Minnesota Christian Chronicle. Her missions experience includes short-term ministry in 10 countries across Asia and the Americas. She is excited to be marrying her phenomenal fiance Andrew Moore in May of 2015.