TALAMANCA, Costa Rica
As we welcome in 2021, our GS team of staff and volunteers is praying for the world to open up again. While we wait, we invite you to explore with us the regions where our global ministry partners work. These places are unique and vibrant, each boasting their own special beauty. And the people? Well, we believe the people are extraordinary. And we think once you get to know them better, you will too. So we invite you to venture out with us virtually as we celebrate the people, places, and ministries God has called us to serve around the world.
ON THE MAP
Stacked compactly one upon the other, seven tiny nations link the massive North and South American continents. Nestled near the southern end of the chain lies what many consider its finest gem: Costa Rica. Adventure seekers find their way there for the jungle zip lines and rope courses, coffee lovers for the rich, aromatic roast, and with an abundance of pristine beaches, sunbathers and surfers alike flock to the sandy shores of two coastlines.
A winding four-hour car ride from the capital of San José, the region of Talamanca lies tucked away along Costa Rica’s southern border with Panama. Over half the area falls neatly within three national parks and a wildlife preserve, which is good for tourism as well as conservation efforts. But step off the well-beaten tourist path—or just cross the river in a banana boat—and the mountain jungles tell a different story.
Talamanca is both friendly and welcoming, and foreigners take good advantage of affordable vacation homes and a variety of eco-friendly touring options. But while the sun-kissed Caribbean coastline and decidedly unhurried pace encourages la pura vida, for some a dark chapter in Costa Rica’s past continues to cripple their present. Colonization left its mark on the Americas, and Costa Rica was no exception. Small villages throughout the lush mountain jungles of Talamanca are home to the nation’s largest indigenous population. Once enslaved by the Spanish and now pushed onto reservations, they are marginalized and forgotten by the forward march of first-world development. Just over a third of Talamanca’s land is divided between four reservations where Costa Rica’s native inhabitants live. Linked by steep, muddy paths, their small villages remain primitive, mired in the past. In these places, infant mortality is high and access to everything from sanitation to education and medical care is low. And the further into the mountains you travel, the more pervasive the poverty and the deeper the darkness. Religious practices are steeped in the worship of demonic beings, and spiritual darkness has the region tightly in its grip.
One of the larger indigenous groups in Talamanca is the BriBri, and much of their land quietly skirts the fringes of busy beach towns like Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo. Largely invisible to the tourists enjoying the laid-back Caribbean vibe, life for the BriBri is largely a subsistence existence. They eek out a living selling bananas, cacao, or plantains and themselves live mostly on beans and rice. Society on the reservation is matrilineal and matriarchal, and so the women remain tied to the land and quite rooted. Many men, however, leave to seek work on nearby banana plantations, coming and going and, with marriage seen as largely an informal arrangement, some absent BriBri men establish more than one family. Such customs have been normalized and stem from the heartbreaking conviction that men are to make conquests of their women. With this type of cultural norm, sexual abuse is sadly rife within and across many BriBri clans, and sadly it begins when girls are quite young. Teenage pregnancy is inevitable, and frightened girls are left to raise fatherless children in isolation, themselves traumatized. Taking on a prevailing sense of hopelessness, however, are two ministries working hard among the BriBri to change the engrained beliefs that promote the abuse of women and children and offer the healing and future only Jesus can provide.
Kyrios Ministries has been working among the BriBri in Talamanca for many years. Making the four-hour drive from San José multiple times per month, the team of local Costa Ricans has brought the hope of the gospel to the region, first through youth camps and more lately through developing relationships with BriBri pastors on the reservation. Beginning small in 2017 with just a few participants, an annual pastors’ conference has since grown to see well over 50 men and women in attendance! Calling pastors to grow in grace and challenging them to value and protect the women and girls in their villages and clans is a discipleship that seeks to disrupt and dislodge cultural patterns that have damaged generations of beautiful people made in God’s image.
The Nest is a ministry founded by Karina and James Beach to serve the women and children of the BriBri tribe in Talamanca. They are working to provide a safe, loving, and Christ-centered shelter where women and children can live in a healing community, be educated, and fall in love with Jesus. The team is developing a bilingual school where children can learn academics and life skills in a vibrant faith-based community and all can find peace, purpose, and protection from sexual abuse.
Global Sharing is proud to partner with both Kyrios Ministries and The Nest and to spread the word about all they’re doing in Talamanca for God’s Kingdom. To that end, we support Kyrios’ efforts to build relationships with BriBri pastors and train them to lead in love and disciple them to daily live out the example of the Good Shepherd. We are also actively supporting the work of The Nest as their team endeavors to build a safehouse for BriBri women and children to heal and be discipled in the ways of Jesus.
We will continue to offer the encouragement of friendship, prayer support, and teams of volunteers to both these ministries as they continue to faithfully serve the BriBri. As both teams press on, deeper into the mountain jungles, we will continue to tell their story, support them how and when we can, and invite you to join us in walking the Kingdom path with them.
For the Kyrios team to meet and develop more relationships within the BriBri community.
For the resources needed for the team to continue discipling pastors in the Talamanca region.
For protection over all as the spiritual battle is raging.
For The Nest team to raise needed funds to build the shelter and school.
For continued favor with the BriBri reservation leadership.
For God to provide needed staff and volunteers for The Nest from among the BriBri community.
For a service trip in the planning stages to visit and support the work of both The Nest and Kyrios in June of this year. I you are interested in joining our team, email us today at email@example.com.
Thank you for making our partnership with both The Nest and Kyrios Ministries thrive. Thank you for praying for these partners and the beautiful BriBri people they serve. Thank you for seeing the challenges and being part of bringing change to this corner of the world. We press on with your help, and we press on because the hope and healing of Jesus is the only change that will last.
To receive our prayer email updates for our partners, click HERE.
To give to The Nest or Kyrios Ministries through Global Sharing, click HERE.
The beautiful photos shown in this email were taken by Elsie Muñoz while on a service and ministry trip to Talamanca with Global Sharing in 2019. Thank you, Elsie, for sharing your time and talent and so poignantly capturing for us the heart and soul of the region and the people.