About Costa Rica

CostaRicaMap“Pura vida!”

Literally translated, it means the “pure life,” but the Costa Rican expression is typically used as a friendly greeting or a casual declaration that “life is good.” And in many ways, life in Costa Rica is good.

However, in the midst of the lush landscapes, the friendly people, and the temperate climate, you might overlook the crumbling family structure, the growing disinterest in (and at times distaste for) religion amongst the younger generation, and the seedy underbelly of the country — a growing destination and source for human trafficking and sex tourism.

Easily accessible from the United States, Costa Rica is a fantastic location for learning Spanish, experiencing Latino culture and ministering to all types of people.

As you learn more about what we do in Costa Rica (and beyond), contact our team leader, Jim Wilson, to find out how you can get involved.

Ministry involvement

As the San Jose-based Costa Rica staff continues to grow, so does the diversity of our ministry involvement and partnerships. Current ministry highlights include:

Outreach & Holistic Ministry

  • English classes to low-income residents in Rio Azul.
  • Sharing the love of Christ on the streets of San Jose with people caught in the sex trade industry.
  • Accessible healthcare for mothers and mothers-to-be in the slum of La Carpio. (Partner: Christ for the City)
  • Helping to provide a safe place for residents of the Guararí slum to connect and learn. (Partner: Smiles With Hope)

Training & Discipleship

  • Pastoral training in the form of Bible Institutes in 11 cities/regions throughout Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.
  • Children’s ministry in a local church in Rio Azul.
  • Youth ministry to English-speaking ex-pats, missionary kids and Costa Rican students. (Partner: Latin America Mission & AMCA Ministries)
  • Doctrinal training for churches associated with the Evangelical Free Church of Costa Rica.
  • Developing a local women’s ministry team in Nicaragua with the collaboration of women from Venezuela and the U.S. (Partner: Women Without Borders)

Staff bios

Find out more about life and ministry in Costa Rica from the personal vantage points of our ReachGlobal team members:

Jim & Melanie Wilson

After regularly traveling to Nicaragua for more than a decade, Jim and Melanie moved to Costa Rica in January 2011 and launched themselves into full-time ministry in Latin America. Jim is the San Jose City Team’s fearless leader, and his ministry focus is pastoral training. Melanie does local women’s ministry and teaches English classes.

Fun facts about Jim:

Where you are from:
All over – my father was in the Air Force so we moved a lot. I grew up in Alaska, but spent a lot of time in Alabama and Texas.

An interesting item on your bucket list:
I really want to visit New Zealand

A song you wish you had written:
“The Heart of the Matter” by Don Henley

Favorite Spanish phrase:
Se me olvidó — it means “I forgot” but, literally translated, it’s “it forgot me.” It’s a linguistic way to dodge responsibility.

Read more on their blog.

Dave & Angie Ziel

Since moving to Costa Rica in November 2011, Dave and Angie serve in a variety of ministries from evangelism to community development to children’s ministry to theological education and more.

Fun facts about Dave:

Where you are from:
Rock Island, IL

Favorite destination in Costa Rica:
Volcán Arenal

An interesting item on your bucket list:
Be hosts at a campground with Angie

Best part about Costa Rican culture:
Farmers markets that sell fresh fruit and vegetables along with great fresh-made empanadas, tortillas, and pupusas

Favorite Spanish phrase:
Chunche — it means thingy, thing-a-ma-bob, etc.

Fun facts about Angie

Where you are from:
North Dakota

Best part about Costa Rican culture:
Ticos are incredibly patient with people who are learning Spanish and overall very kind and helpful.

A book you wish you had written:
What’s so Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey

3 adjectives that describe you:
Hospitable, compassionate, responsible

Read more on their blog.

Melissa Putney

Melissa has a heart for youth ministry and helping girls become disciple-making disciples. She currently works mainly with third-culture kids.

Fun facts about Melissa:

Arrival date in Costa Rica:
March 2010

Where you are from:
Dayton, OH / Charlotte, NC

Favorite destination in Costa Rica:
There are too many beautiful places to really pick one, but I do especially love the beaches in Guanacaste.

An interesting item on your bucket list:
Touring Israel

Favorite Spanish phrase:
Que chiva! — it’s specifically a Costa Rican expression that means cool or awesome.

Read more on her blog.


‘Because We Love Him’

ReachGlobal in Costa Rica: ‘Because We Love Him’ from EFCA ReachGlobal on Vimeo.

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