A transition in Costa Rica

October 23, 2010

by Rev. Dr. Ralph Mayan

Pastor Edmundo (2nd from left) and Pastor Pedro (1st from right) with a few mission leaders.

This past week I had the opportunity to visit with our two missionaries in Costa Rica and see firsthand the work being done in Casa Cuba, a barrio of San Jose and Cartago, a community about 23 kilometres south east of the capital.

Work began in Cartago about one and half years ago with Missionary Edmundo Retana, our first Costa Rican pastor. His outreach program is a three-pronged approach.
(1) Together with his wife and the assistance of others, they have outreach programs for children and teens in the area. These are held twice a week.
(2) They seek to establish relationships by carrying out special events with invitations being sent to people from the community. These are always well attended especially if they involve their children. 
(3) Pastor Retana then carries out what he describes as “scheduled visitations” in the homes of all the people with whom he has comes in contact that week. He describes them as “scheduled” because they are carried out on specific days and he seeks to schedule the visit with the family so that they are prepared for his coming. “I don’t just visit them once, but weekly so that I can get to know them and their needs and they can get to know me and our Saviour.” He says that having made these visits for over a year now, people recognize him on the street and he now has “unscheduled” stops to visit with others. “God is blessing my visits,” he says. He adds, “The people God sends our way are so open to the Gospel.”

Worship Facility in Cartago

On the day of our visit, one of the special events was taking place. Approximately fifty crowded into our rented facility (thanks to Concordia Lutheran Mission Society who provide the financial support for both this facility and the one in Casa Cuba) to hear about an upcoming MOST Ministry Eye-glass clinic in November. After describing what would take place at the eye-glass clinic, he used the opportunity to speak about humanity’s need for spiritual sight and how that comes in the person of Jesus Christ. The teens handed out tickets for the clinic and Pastor Retana then visited with people collecting names and addresses so that he could have the opporutnity to speak with them personally in their homes.

Since his beginning he has confirmed six adults and conducted one baptism. Worship is held on Saturday with an average attendance of 27 people. The time of worship is followed by programs for children and teens.

Pastor Pedro Quintero, our Nicaraguan missionary in the country, has been serving in various barrios of San Jose. During our visit with him, we visited in Casa Cuba where he began work some 8 months ago. This outreach ministry has focused more on the children in the community and with the assistance of a resident from the community, he has been able to develop a children’s program that reaches out to about 30 children. “These are families that I have been able to now contact and share the Gospel with,” Pastor Pedro says.
Pastor Pedro conducts his services on Sunday morning. They have about 20 people who attend regularly, a few coming from other barrios in which he has done work. On Reformation Sunday, Pastor Edmundo will be visiting and together they will celebrate the Reformation with a confirmation service. Pastor Pedro has also been conducting Bible Studies and confirmation on Thursday evenings.

We are thankful to God that through the work of these two missionaries, three women and two men have been identified and now assist in the outreach of the Costa Rican mission. At least three of these people will be attending a future seminary program in Nicaragua.  As a result the church in Nicaragua has requested that Pastor Pedro return to Nicaragua and has now called him to serve as Pastor of Cristo Rey Luterana in El Realejo and to begin an outreach ministry in Corinto. He and his family will return to Nicaragua in November. Missionary Edmundo with the support of these new identified workers will continue to work in Casa Cuba along with Cartago and with God’s blessing expand that ministry into other areas of the city.

We thank God for the work of these two missionaries and pray God’s continued blessing upon the Gospel proclamation in Costa Rica.

Nicaragua seminary candidate ordained in Panama

February 9, 2010

Candidate Perez is ordained into the Holy Ministry to serve in Panama

Iglesia Evangélica Luterana de Panamá (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Panama – IELPA) ordained and installed a pastor who graduated from Lutheran Reformation Theological Seminary, Nicaragua in March 2009. Demetrio Pérez was one of two pastoral ministry students from Panama and comes from the Kuna tribe, a native community in Panama. Rev. Jorge Villamil, who serves a Kuna congregation conducted the January 31 Service of Ordination and Installation. 

The new pastor will serve Bethel Mission at the Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) community in Panama. Although Pastor Pérez and fellow Panamanian Jose Angel Fernandez graduated from the theological education program last year, the IELPA delayed ordination and placement until congregations became available. Snr. Fernandez is still awaiting his ordination and first call. A deaconess, Yazmina Perez also graduated with the two pastors and is serving a congregation in the community of Balboa. 

“Having these students from Panama in the seminary class demonstrated to the Nicaraguan students the unity we share in Christ and in our Lutheran confession,” noted Rev. Dr. Ralph Mayan, volunteer missionary in Nicaragua. “It was especially touching to welcome Demetrio Pérez’ parents to the graduation in their Kuna native dress.” 

The Panamanian students are the first from another Lutheran church body to receive their theological training in the Nicaragua seminary program. The church in Panama became aware of the program when The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod seconded Rev. Pedro Quintero, a graduate from the first Nicaragua seminary class, to serve in the Panama mission. The three-year course operates under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Roger Humann and Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ont.

Festive and busy day includes meeting with missionaries

January 26, 2010

by Rev. Leonardo Neitzel

Under the theme “Unidad e Fraternidad en Cristo Jesus” (Unity and fraternity in Christ Jesus) the last day of the second convention of the Iglesia Luterana Sínodo de Nicaragua started at 9 a.m. with devotion and the business of the day. At 11 a.m. the closing service took place with about 80 people attending.

President Bugbee delivered the sermon pointing to the grace of God through Jesus Christ who brought His Church to where it is, and also encouraged the Lutherans in their faithfulness and commitment to the mission of the Lord. The offering from the closing service will be forwarded to those who are suffering in Haiti due to the earthquake. The service also included the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and installation of recently-elected officers.

Following the worship, mealtime and fellowship, President Bugbee together with pastors Neitzel and Mayan held meetings with the LCC missionaries to Honduras and Costa Rica who attended the ILSN convention. The missionaries´ reports were very uplifting and encouraging as the Lord continues to open doors for the proclamation of the Gospel. This hasn’t been without difficulties, but the missionaries are encouraged in sharing about their plans to continue taking the Gospel into other communities in these countries.

They mentioned specific, small projects that LCC might support in the future. Distances are great. It took pastor Douglas two days by bus to come from his mission area in Honduras to the convention in Chinandega. The missionaries from Costa Rica are not close geographically to the ILSN centre either.

Our meeting included a special time in prayer with the missionaries on behalf of their work. They have asked for our continual prayers on behalf of the mission outreach to the communities where they serve. They expressed their gratitude to the Lord and to the churches and individuals in Canada who support the mission.

For more information on these missionaries and their work see LCC’s mission pages on LCC’s website.

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