Multiplication In Action

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.

Continued growth

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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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

Bring a short-term team to Costa Rica. Contact us to discuss options!

PRAY
  • 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.
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Small Church Has Big Impact

Ripples grow from Florida to Costa Rica and beyond

They prayed regularly for the ministry in Costa Rica and the needs of the local church. One of their own members faithfully pursued a call to full-time missions with ProMETA (an accessible, online Master’s-level theological education program for Spanish-speakers throughout the world).

In 2008, Faith Evangelical Free Church in Spring Hill, Florida, deepened its role. To their regular prayers, they added a prayer for how they might be used to serve the churches and pastors in Costa Rica.

The Lord brought them two ministry contacts in Costa Rica: Jorge, a pastor, and Mauricio, a missionary with a ReachGlobal partner ministry. Jorge and Mauricio brought Faith EFC a vision for Ortega, Guanacaste. In this small rural community in northern Costa Rica, a local pastor was working to build his church body, but he lacked a church building. They asked Faith EFC to help.

A big step for a small church

Asking God to supply the necessary funds, Faith EFC committed to the church building project in Ortega. Pastor Jorge encouraged them to come in July – the best time of year for Costa Ricans to participate in building efforts – dodging the worst of rainy season and the peak of sugar cane season.

Funds came in slowly. With July creeping closer, the Faith EFC missions committee decided to postpone the trip until the following July. The next day, a local foundation in Spring Hill called the missions director – through this foundation, God was providing the full $14,000 required to move forward with the trip that year.

With the money in the bank, a team of seven volunteers prepared for the trip and for the construction of a new church in Ortega, securing building materials in time for their arrival. Mauricio had stressed the need for biblical pastoral training, so the team, accompanied by their pastor, also prepared to deliver a five night Bible study on the Panoramic Plan of God to seven local churches in Guanacaste.

God worked out every detail. The team arrived in Costa Rica with arrangements made and the building materials at the site.

A life-changing work

“We worked all day, mixing cement, laying block and building the church,” shares Frank, Faith EFC Missions Director and team member.” At night, our pastor delivered his study to the local pastors and a few wives. Throughout the week, the work continued, and the Bible study grew bigger and bigger each night.

“By the end of the week, the building was completed, with a wonderful, packed, dedication service. And the Bible study concluded with so many people, still wanting more of God’s word.”

The new church building in Ortega was christened Jehovah Nissi (meaning the Lord our Banner). After seven years of praying, the church body had its building.

“The community kept saying that God had forgotten about them, and He does not see them,” Frank says. “With the finished church standing, the pastor did declare that God, in fact, does see. Many villagers are now attending and being fed God’s Word.”

God doesn’t stop there

The Bible study was so well received in Guanacaste that Mauricio asked the church to create a video version so it could be added to a bigger training curriculum.

ReachGlobal sent a videographer to the church in Florida, and the Faith EFC congregation participated in the five night study as it was videotaped. Afterwards, the study was translated into Spanish, Portuguese and French. Soon it will be available throughout all of Central and South America.

Committed to continuing the relationship in Guanacaste, Faith EFC recently raised funds and helped provide multiple copies of a children’s Bible study (created by a missionary in Bolivia) and 100 Spanish Bibles to the local churches.

What’s next for Faith EFC? The congregation hopes to return to Ortega to build a community center that would serve about 300 local families. As they continue to fundraise and await the necessary resources, they covet your prayers. So does the church in Ortega.

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CONNECT

latinamerica@efca.org

SERVE

Bring a short-term team to Costa Rica. Contact us to discuss options!

PRAY
  • For the church in Ortega — that God would grant growth and spiritual health.
  • For Faith EFC in their endeavors to return to Ortega and assist with the construction of a community center.
  • That the impact of the video Bible study would be far-reaching in Latin America.
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