Every Tribe, Every Tongue
Have you ever had your own plans mapped out for life and ministry, only to find out God had something entirely different in mind for you? Kory and Rebecca Crawford went to Costa Rica with their own idea of what their ministry would look like. But the Lord had His own perfect manual of what He wanted them to follow and learn.
Here, the missionary couple tells us about challenges and discouragements in the mission field and learning about the importance of being willing to serve God wherever He sends us and in whatever capacity.
Where are you serving?
We serve in the country of Costa Rica, specifically in the capital city of San Jose. We felt the Lord called us to a more general mission field of work amongst Hispanic people. Within this larger field, the Lord led us to a specific area of Costa Rica, where we were impressed by the great need for the gospel, as well as help and support for the current local churches. While we are engaging in evangelisation in new areas of the country, our main focus and ministry at this time is mainly with Christians and local churches in the country.
How do you share the gospel in Costa Rica — and what are some tools that are effective?
We typically share the gospel through Bible tracts, Bible verse distribution, and public preaching of the gospel. We find it much more effective to go into a community and rent the community centre in the area, rather than invite people from the community to a church to listen.
We often do Bible classes for children during the day, followed by public gospel preaching in the evening for all ages in the community. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
In Costa Rica, what are some barriers that keep people from believing the gospel?
Where we work in the capital city of San Jose, there seem to be two main factors that hinder people from believing or being interested in the gospel. The first is religion — Costa Rica is a very Catholic country, and most are content with doing their religious service each week with the hope that they are satisfying God this way. We try to share the truth of Galatians 2: “that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ”.
Costa Rica is a very Catholic country, and most hope to satisfy God with their religious service each week
The other obstacle, especially in the city, is people are consumed with materialism and don’t have time for the gospel but are focused rather on “laying up treasures on earth”.
Give an example of a challenging situation you recently faced and what the Lord taught you from the experience.
We have found it challenging working on our own, especially in new areas, as we feel it has limited our effectiveness in this aspect of our ministry. As missionaries and ministry workers, often we judge success based on visible, tangible (and quick) results.
The Lord has made us see our limitations and weaknesses and has taught us that the measure of our current effectiveness of work and ministry is to be faithful servants with the resources He has provided us, and not to long for what He hasn’t provided, which, at this time, are fellow labourers.
How has learning about your limitations and weaknesses changed how you trust in the Lord?
The Lord has been working on humbling us during our time in Costa Rica and really laying the truth upon us that “neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but it is God who gives the increase”. God wants us to be willing servants whom He can use and mould, and wants us to have an open spirit to how He directs and guides.
For those of us who don’t see fruit in the ministry God has given us, how can we stay faithful to the Lord and to the work He has entrusted to us?
One verse that has been of particular encouragement is Galatians 6:9, which says, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Maybe at the current time and circumstances, it is a time of sowing, and others will come along later who will reap.
The Lord has taught us that the measure of effectiveness of our ministry is to be faithful servants with the resources He has provided us
What are some personal spiritual challenges you face, and what is the Lord teaching you through these challenges?
A great spiritual challenge for us has been learning patience and trusting the Lord’s plans and timing. The work we initially thought we would be engaged in when we first arrived in Costa Rica (gospel work in new areas) was very quickly redirected to working among the current local churches that are in the country.
It was as if we came down with a manual and an idea of what we thought we should be doing and the Lord very quickly handed us a new one that He wanted us to follow and learn from.
When God’s ways are different from what we had planned, what practical things can we do to get on board with God’s plan?
More than anything, it is important to just have a willingness to serve God, however and wherever He directs us. For some, their ministry and location of serving is the same for 50 years, but for others it may change from decade to decade or year to year. We try to take to heart the words of the missionary martyr Jim Elliot, who famously said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”
How can we pray for you?
Pray for the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers to this area of the field. Also please pray that the Lord would raise up local elders for the future of the churches in the country.
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