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In the City and in the Jungle: Costa Rica Trip Report

Global Sharing exists “to encourage, equip, and empower local churches around the world….” Boy, were we in our element of encouraging, equipping, and empowering in Costa Rica with three specific groups: the church in the city of San Jose, Costa Rica that had a waning passion for outreach, the Kyrios Missions Group that was formed out of the church to reach out to the Bri Bri Indians in the jungles of the Talamanca region, and lastly, the Bri Bri church leaders in Talamanca themselves. Mike Hedges returned after nine years to visit the people. What a joy to watch God use him, sharing what God had been humbly teaching him, speaking into listening ears in such great need to hear what he was saying. God uses us all when we make ourselves available. Following is Mike’s brief synopsis of just the first 48 hours:

My barber tells a favorite and true story. One day a psychologist was sitting in the barber chair and towards the end of the haircut he asked for a mirror to see the back of his head. The barber handed him the mirror and the man proceeded to aim at what he thought was the back of his head. The problem was that he never could quite get it in the right position to see the back of his head. He kept going left, right, too high and too low. The barber said, “here hand me the mirror John,” but the man kept adjusting the mirror to no avail. The barber again asked more emphatically this time, "John hand me the mirror." Finally John relented and handed the barber the mirror. The barber immediately was able to fix the mirror in the proper position so that the man could see the back of his head.

We are often times like the man in the barber chair. We think that we can see clearly but we can't. We need help from others to give us a clear picture of ourselves and our work. This was just what my two traveling companions, both experienced in mission, provided to the leadership of a church called Comunidad Christiana d’Amor, literally “Community of Love.” Pastors Ron Smith and Jose Avila have been to Costa Rica several times coming alongside this ambitious mission-oriented church. A half dozen leaders from this church have selflessly served the Bri Bri indigenous people group, located three and a half hours away, by visiting them two or three weekends a month for over ten years!

But like the guy in the barber chair, this well-intentioned local church leadership had been just a little bit off in focus. They had concentrated most of their recent efforts on constructing a building in the jungle to host camps, a facility that’s used about once a week per year. Unfortunately, all this focus was at the expense of any effective sharing of the good news, early and often. They had lost sight of their primary work: introduce Christ everywhere, whether in the city or in the jungle.

By Ron and Jose merely adjusting the mirror, the pastors and leadership themselves came to realize after explanations and gentle reminders that they needed to not be so "building-oriented.” It was as if they could finally see the back of their head with a mirror because of a guiding hand.

So if not a building, then what? Ron and Jose each spoke of their desire to bring the Disciple Making Movement (DMM) to the Bri Bri through these church leaders in San Jose. DMM is built around small, personal “discovery” Bible studies in a simple three-step process. First, the passage is written down. Secondly, consider what God is saying about Himself, people, Jesus, and us today. And finally, determine how are you to personally obey the teaching in the passage; in other words write an “I will” statement. This obedience-driven study of God’s Word has been very successful all over the world for tens of thousands of people. It is purposely simple enough that anybody can do it over coffee, from a highly trained pastor to the newest believer!

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, we have come to understand church as a building, becoming very “building-oriented.” The first-century churches in the book of Acts, however, were often hidden and small, meeting in homes. It's back to these roots that this movement is going.

Sometimes your jaw drops when you watch the way God works. Somewhat like a conductor of a grand orchestra pulling together separate instruments to create something remarkable. Or a barber simply adjusting the mirror so we can really see what we’re looking for. All this in the first 48 hours of our visit to the jungles of Costa Rica! — Mike Hedges

Global Sharing continues to provide hope, encouragement, and resolve, to these tireless workers, equipping them with Discipleship Making Movement energy, hope, and encouragement. Thank you for making this trip possible. One church in Costa Rica and the Bri Bri in Talamanca give a hearty thank you as well.

DMM. Disciple Making Movement. Remember the name. Try it yourself. Global Sharing would love to send you a packet describing DMM. Click HERE and let us know you’d like one.

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