I took a vision trip to Costa Rica in February 2011 to explore ministry partnerships. I expected simply to find a place where my church could do some physical labor and help people in need. I discovered just how small my ideas were when I saw the hand of God through the ministry of INCRESE and learned more about evangelicalism in Latin America.
State of the Church
There are about 500 million people in Latin America, and of those 500 million, 70 million profess to be evangelical Christians. Of those 70 million about 50% are embittered towards the church and Jesus Christ because of rampant abuses in the church.
There are many “pastors” calling themselves apostles and prophets and convincing people to give up their homes and their cars and to give the money to the church so that their prayers will be answered. When the prayers are not answered in the way the people expect, they turn against the Word of God and His kingdom.
Consumed by their pastoral work, many pastors’ families suffer without a father and leader in the home. That was Eduardo’s story.
Years ago, Eduardo buried himself in ministry, becoming so entrenched it cost him his family. After this happened, he decided to step out of the ministry for the next couple of years. Eventually, Eduardo knew that God was calling him to Colorado, answering his prayer for a new spiritual family.
At one point, he worked as a janitor in the Fellowship Community Church (FCC) just to get by. God, the Redeemer of all things, did not allow the hurt, the pain, the difficulties, and the mistakes of the past to determine the end of Eduardo’s story.
“Through some of the families at Fellowship Community Church and some key leaders in the EFCA Rocky Mountain District, God created an environment for healing and refreshment in my life,” Eduardo says. “It was a breath of fresh air. It changed my paradigm of thinking — how to do ministry and how to be healthy in all areas of life.”
After this time of healing in Colorado and true reconnection with the Lord, Eduardo was forced to return to Costa Rica in the wake of September 11, 2001.
The birth of INCRESE
“When I left, I had wanted to go back to Colorado, and FCC worked on getting me a new visa,” Eduardo says. “But God began connecting me with many pastors in Costa Rica who were following the same unhealthy patterns of ministry, with broken families, broken hearts and unhealthy churches.”
Eduardo began to help his struggling brothers in Christ, and when offered the chance to return to the United States on a new visa, he felt he had to refuse.
Instead, he started INCRESE, the Spanish acronym for the Institute for Healthy, Ecclesiastical Growth. In its first phase, the ministry seeks to take unhealthy leaders (spiritually, emotionally, etc.) through a program called Life Project to restore, renew, and equip them to fulfill God’s unique purpose for their lives.
After successfully completing Life Project, in the subsequent phases of INCRESE, a leader brings others into the Life Project curriculum and helps them through the process, thus multiplying the impact.
Although Eduardo started the INCRESE movement with a heart for troubled pastors, the movement now equips more than just pastors. Anyone in the body of Christ can benefit because we are all called to a certain purpose with specific gifts that only we can use in this life.
“In a sense, it is releasing people from the burden of serving the Lord in a role He never intended for them,” Eduardo says. “It allows them to discover their own unique purpose according to God’s design.”
It is a movement of multiplication that our vision team saw taking place right now in Costa Rica. There are now multiple generations of believers being used by God to carry forth the message to the lost.
We spoke to pastors and leaders in many areas of the country and heard of the impact of the INCRESE movement again and again. INCRESE is at a critical point in the growth process with the five teachers being stretched beyond their means. So, one new goal is to develop DVD material, allowing leaders to continue the Life Project training without Eduardo or the other trainers there to teach every session.
Catching the vision
My heart was overflowing after this trip.
When I got back to Gillette (WY), I felt like a lost puppy dog not knowing what to do next. I felt like I should still be in Costa Rica serving the Lord. I was having a crisis of calling.
I knew the Lord wanted to use my life for something more than just the ordinary. I still know it but am not sure how it is going to play out. Before going on the trip, I was content to serve in Gillette as a community group leader and the mission team leader. Now I am not so sure that is all that the Lord has in mind for me.
As a result of the experience, our church, Living Rock, plans to partner with a local church in Ortega, Costa Rica. As the Lord prepares the way, we will take another trip this July to join the Ortega church in a number of different ways, including pastoral training, leadership training, Sunday school teacher training, building/construction, sewing, electrical repairs, etc.
One need the pastor in Ortega mentioned is for some type of business or employment that the local people can do after the harvest, when most men are laid off from their jobs. The sky is really the limit, and I am sure we will see a glimpse of it because Jesus Christ is in control.
Story by Timothy Young, Gillette, WY
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Bring a short-term team to Costa Rica. Contact us to discuss options!
- For the leaders of INCRESE and the work they are doing throughout Costa Rica and beyond.
- For Living Rock Church as they prepare for a short-term trip to Ortega, Costa Rica, in July 2011, and that both churches (from the U.S. and Costa Rica) would be deeply impacted by the partnership.
- That God would bring the needed people and resources together to create DVD trainings for INCRESE.