Missionary Verses: The Deepest Jungles of Costa Rica
In December, 2010, I had the great privilege of going on a mission trip to Costa Rica with one of my best friends. He is involved with a ministry there that primarily serves the Cabecar Indians, who are native to Costa Rica.
The Cabecars live on a relatively large reservation in the eastern part of Costa Rica. Some have horses and some have cars, but most walk to wherever they are going. It is not that easy to walk there, as the land is very hilly/mountainous, and the large amount of rainfall they receive keeps everything muddy much of the time. It’s nothing to walk 3-4 hours somewhere on a given day. For the most part, the Cabecars are reliant on crops they grow themselves for their sustenance.
While there, I got to hear the testimony one of our brothers in Christ, Alejandro. He is a Cabecar, and told us before the Lord chose him, how he would participate in the annual pilgrimage to the local witch doctor, for lack of a better term. This person was the intermediary between the Cabecar god, Sibo (or Sibu), and the Cabecars; a sort of “priest”, if you will.
Our brother explained how each year, a group of men would raise money to take to the priest as part of their annual pilgrimage, which was about a 16 hour walk. The motivation to bring money to the priest was, in essence, bribery. The priest threatened to have Sibo withhold rain, or do something that would harm their crops. Sibo had to be appeased, and only the priest could appease him. It’s a great little system – if you’re the priest.
Over time, Alejandro began to realize that the pilgrimage was nothing but an excuse to go on a several day drinking binge. Some of the money they were taking to the priest would be used for alcohol, and the group would simply get drunk as they made their way to see the priest. He also realized that the priest had special idols for use in worship that supposedly had special powers. Of course, no one but the priest could see or handle these idols.
As it turns out, this was the beginning of the Lord bringing Alejandro to Himself. Eventually, at a missionary’s home who lives on the Cabecar reservation, he heard the word of God read, and became a believer. This was the second generation of a missionary family who God led to devote their lives to the Cabecars.
So, what’s the point of all of this? To demonstrate (yet again) that no matter where you go in the world, whether in a major pagan American city or in the deepest jungle of Costa Rica, God’s word is proven true. Romans 1 says,
“18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
It also demonstrates that God is actively at work to the ends of the earth to bring His elect to Himself. In Alejandro’s case, He did this through a family that has been with the Cabecars over 40 years. Our God’s purposes cannot be thwarted, and His word does not return void. Despite our sin and rebellion against the all holy God, He saves us because of His great love. Ephesians 2 says,
“1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
May it please the Lord to work through us to bring many more to Him.