January 12-27, 2001
|It was Bob Grady, a Departmental Director for the Washington
Conference, that approached me about holding a Campaign in Costa Rica in
conjunction with a group of seniors who would be building a new church. His group, "S.A.G.E. (Seniors in Action for
God with Excellence) was but one of 35 groups scheduled to build 35 Maranatha
churches and schools in Costa Rica during 2001.
After living in Central America for many years I was interested in participating with such a program. I suggested, however, that I would like to contact the leaders of the Costa Rica Mission and Maranatha Volunteers International regarding a national campaign of which mine would only be one. The Costa Rica Mission leaders enthusiastically agreed to plan and conduct a Campaign in every organized church and company during 2001. However, the Campaigns to be held at the locations where a Maranatha was to be built would be scheduled at the time the volunteers were present and building the new facility. The Maranatha leaders and Board were equally enthusiastic about the idea. If possible, those Campaigns were to be preached by a guest evangelist who came with the Maranatha team. But, if a team failed to provide an evangelist, the Costa Rica Mission agreed to provide a speaker. Of course, there was to be no added expense to Maranatha or its teams for this simultaneous evangelistic initiative. So, that's how the Costa Rica national campaign was born.
|Costa Rica, known as the Switzerland of Central America, is a beautiful country with a dominant mountain range, and bathed by both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Its capital, San Jose, is located on the fertile high central plateau, located between some dramatic tentatively-dormant volcanoes. It's elevation ensures a year-around springtime climate. Soon after arriving, on a very clear day, the group of guest evangelists drove to the top of Poas (right), the volcano that rises immediately behind the Central American Union's University.|
|When Anita and I moved to Central America in 1966 we drove through Costa Rica on our way to Panama. On that trip we saw a full-size cart (like the one at the left), pulled by a pair of oxen, and loaded with manure! Yes, the one we saw was as beautifully decorated as the model pictured here (left).|
|The craftsmanship and artistic decoration (right) made smaller versions of these carts an attraction to the tourists. So one day we drove to the nearby village of Sarchí where these are made so the visiting evangelists could see the work in progress.|
|We are presenting, in fact, two reports. The first
is about the five evangelistic Campaigns conducted by guest evangelists and the other
report is of the
construction by SAGE of the new church for the congregation of "La
Esperanza." Since the Campaign began three days before the
construction got under way the first part of this report will be the evangelistic
Four laymen, two women and two men, from the United States accepted my invitation to try their hand at public evangelism. They each had some experience preaching in their home churches but only one had ever tried evangelistic preaching. In anticipation of the Campaigns a) laymen and women in Costa Rica did excellent personal evangelistic work preparing individuals whom they invited to the meetings; b) each of these guest evangelists received a set of sermon notes, that showed them what points should be made with each picture that would be on the screen, along with PowerPoint presentations (slides) in Spanish that matched the English version in their notes. They each preached with a translator but the words on the pictures the attendees saw were in Spanish.
Ellie Green (below), was the evangelist in this team. But her husband, Bunky, a retired NASA engineer, was her cheering section and moral support. Ellie, a gifted and dynamic speaker, had previously held a Campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina but she was anxious to try international evangelism.
Though Costa Rica is not accustomed to women preachers, they quickly warmed up to and accepted Ellie with open hearts. Soon their attention shifted to the message of God's love she was delivering and away from the messenger. The Lord blessed her ministry in the Hatillo church in San José and at the close of the Campaign already 95 precious souls had been baptized and 4 more joined on profession of faith. She and Bunky have decided to go with me to Kenya in March of 2002 and hold a Campaign there.
|Sheryl Juhl (right below) has been an Adventist for only a year and a half or so. For some time she served as an Associate Pastor in the Nazarene Church. After the death of her husband she put her nursing profession to good use and currently serves as a consultant and educational speaker for Johnson and Johnson. She and a friend, Bev Schickling (left), who became an Adventist at the same time, also responded to our invitation to preach an evangelistic series. Her Campaign was done with the support of the members of the church in Moravia (a suburb of San José) but was held in a theater in the town of Coronado in order to establish a new congregation in this very difficult and consequently previously unentered area. The Lord also blessed their ministry and as of the last information I've received about 50 new souls have already been baptized and a new congregation is now meeting there.|
|Marvin and Wendy Mosher own a roofing contracting business in Concord, North Carolina. Though they have been very active in personal soul-winning for many years Marvin had never preached his own evangelistic Campaign. When they heard of this opportunity the Holy Spirit touched their hearts and they contacted me and decided to accept the invitation. Marvin then contacted his brother, Gilbert, who decided to join the team and preach his own Campaign. Elder Gary Gregory, a very good friend of mine for thirty years, translated for Marvin in the church in Heredia. And the Lord blessed them as well with a similar amount of baptisms.|
|Gilbert Mosher is normally spends far more time behind the wheel of a large, 18-wheel freight truck hauling loads long distances to every corner of the United States than he does behind the pulpit. Though he has done some preaching in his home church in Muskegon, Michigan, yet preaching this much and doing so through a translator was enough to cause him a little nervousness. Yet night by night he opened the Word and preached it with power to the members of the "Dimension Profética" church -- named after the Kenneth Cox Campaign which led to its establishment in the late 1970s. The latest word I have is that almost 50 new believers were baptized at the close of Gilbert's Campaign.|
|I held my Campaign in the church on the campus of the Central American Union's University (below).|
|Elder George Reed (on the left in the
right-hand picture below), pastor of the university church, and a
successful evangelist for many years, worked with the senior theology
students to develop Bible studies among those living in the previously unentered
nearby town of "San Pedro de Poas." Under the supervision of
Elder Reed, the students regularly visited these new interests and many
of the 100+- who were baptized during the Campaign came from this town
and are the heart of the new company that is meeting there.
Pastor Ivan Montenegro (on the right in the same picture) is pastor of the congregation called "La Esperanza" which met literally in a "tin shack" at the very back corner of the university campus. This company was one of the congregations in his district and it was the place where SAGE was putting up a new church building.
|Jerry and Sharon Jones (left, below), who
pastor a church in the Seattle, Washington area, were part of the SAGE
team and worked every day on the construction project. However, in
addition to this. Sharon contributed her beautiful soprano voice to the
musical program almost every night.
"Radio Lira" (right, below), the FM station located on the university campus, broadcast the program each night to almost the entire country of Costa Rica. Having been involved in the founding of this station I was so happy to see it continuing to operate successfully after all these years and playing an instrumental role in the life of the church.
|This (left, below) was the church home for the congregation of "La Esperanza" before SAGE arrived. And these (right, below) were the Sabbath School rooms! No wonder the members were thrilled at the arrival of SAGE.|
|Bob Grady (in cap, facing camera) was able to lead the SAGE group only
through an answer to many prayers. He had been seriously ill for many
months including a lengthy hospitalization. Though in a great deal of
pain he was able to come to Costa Rica. Charlie Hinkelman (extreme
right) was the construction manager for this project -- which was his
40th Maranatha construction project.
When the SAGE group arrived on Sunday evening the foundation was poured and the steel beams were up. By Tuesday noon the walls were already up.
|By the first weekend the walls were completed, the roof was on, and the plastering was ready to go on. Meanwhile, the SAGE kitchen team was working its miracle of preparing delicious food, in borrowed quarters, for almost 50 people, three times a day.|
|Sunday of the second week the "tin shack" came down, the concrete floor and sidewalk were broken up with sledge hammers and hauled away -- by hand! Meanwhile inside, paint was going on the plaster, Bob Grady was installing carpeting on the platform, and water was going in the baptistery.|
|SAGE is committed to fully completing every church it starts. This means new benches, platform furniture, paint inside and out, lettering and logo on the outside of the church, as well as landscaping all around! And on Friday afternoon, with several hours to spare, the job was complete ready for the dedication on the final Sabbath.|
|The final Sabbath was a BIG day! Buses from all the churches in the central plateau started arriving at the university church at 8:00 a.m., in time for an early Sabbath School. "Radio Lira" set up a remote operation at the entrance to the church (right below). Two portable baptisteries were set up outside the church on Friday. Together they were big enough to baptize ten people simultaneously. Video cameras were set up at the baptisteries and in the main sanctuary so the program could be transmitted by closed-circuit TV to the overflow crowds in the gymnasium and college auditorium making it possible for an instant transition from the worship service to the baptism without waiting for thousands to move outside.|
I was invited to join the university Glee Club for a special number and then, after the shortest message I've ever delivered, we went right into the baptism. By 11:20 all 150+- candidates had been baptized. Both Marvin and Gilbert Mosher (below right), as ordained local elders, were invited by the Mission President to participate in the baptism.
|Early Sabbath afternoon many gathered at the new "La Esperanza" Church for the dedication program. The SAGE team were present in their matching shirts for the celebration.|
The formal ribbon cutting (below) was followed by a service of thanksgiving to God and to SAGE for making this dream come true. Mission President, Eugenio Vallejos, gave the message.
On behalf of SAGE Elder Grady (left, below) accepted the statements of appreciation from the congregation, and the I had the privilege of "breaking in" the new baptistery with a baptism of six new members.
And then all the guest evangelists returned to their congregations for the concluding message that evening. After seeing old friends and making new ones it was hard to leave for home on Sunday. But, duty called and the deadlines were fast approaching for the Campaigns in Ghana and Venezuela.
|I asked each of the guest evangelists to send me a note with their impressions. Here's what they sent me.|
For over half a century I've listened to, read, and envied the exciting
mission stories of our world church. Even though I've conducted an evangelistic Campaign in my home church, my dream of preaching the gospel in a
far-off land and thrilling to decisions made for Jesus Christ lingered. I
did not believe there would ever be an opportunity for a lay-person, woman,
and grandmother to fulfill such an impossible dream! But, I serve the God of
|Marvin and Wendy Mosher
|Sheryl Juhl and Bev
|Gilbert Mosher wrote:
Dear Pastor Bob