BY ALLISON COVENTRY
Church status: Mission District
District Leader: Hiuberth Zapata
FM Churches: 7 churches, 4 church-planting projects
The Costa Rica Mission District is experiencing a new fervor, unity and mission.
Embracing the work in Panama and Nicaragua has been a catalyst for growth in Costa Rica. Teams have gone to the two neighboring countries to hold retreats for youth and women, as well as classes to equip pastors and lay leaders. Dennis Leon, a former champion surfer, is planting a network of new churches on the Pacific coast. Three groups have started already, two in beach towns and one in the capital city, San Jose.
Numerous people prayed, gave, planned and prepared to hold Latin America’s Global Leadership Summit in Costa Rica. Eight leaders representing 11 countries attended the event.
“My vision of ministry and leadership was enriched and renewed,” said Pastor Hector Perez, district leader for Mexico. “The summit was timely and inspiring as successful leaders taught us proven principles and methods.”
During the gathering, the leaders were able to preach and minister to Costa Rican congregations. Pastors Perez and Allison Coventry went to visit a church in El Roble, planted by a Panamanian now living in Costa Rica. This is a growing and vibrant church that began building a place to worship. After opposition from neighbors, permits were finally secured to continue the project within a tight time frame. A prayer chain formed, and many people spread the word. A VISA team from Michigan responded and helped this church continue its building project.
Perez preached, surrounded by scaffolding, wheelbarrows, cement and a wet floor from rain leaking into the incomplete building. Yet, the El Roble congregation rejoices at the support and encouragement they’ve received from people in Michigan and Mexico. Unable to use amplification because of more restrictions from neighbors, this congregation raises its voice in praise to God. Each week, the congregation gathers to do construction on the building and then hold a worship service together.
This story embodies the unity experienced in the Leadership Summit as Latin Americans, North Americans, churches, conferences and construction workers came together to fuel and sustain a movement that reaches people for Christ.
Partnership With Nicaragua
Hiuberth Zapata was born in Nicaragua and now lives in Costa Rica where he has been an increasingly effective mission district leader for many years. Zapata brings experience and teamwork to the Costa Rican church. Costa Rican elders have committed to work alongside the Nicaraguan church in leadership development and church planting.
Zapata has been working with the Nicaraguan leaders to develop a strategic plan for multiplying ministry in Nicaragua. Since he was installed, he has gone to Nicaragua once a month, always with at least one Costa Rican elder.
Here are a few examples of how these two countries are working together:
- Classes on leadership, theology and ministry that were attended by 37 people
- Seven women from the Costa Rican church went to do a special women’s event in Nicaragua, which had 42 in attendance
- 30 young people from the Costa Rican church traveled to Nicaragua to hold a young adult outreach event, which was attended by 120 young people, some of whom dedicated or rededicated their lives to Christ
- Strength and health for Pastor Hiuberth Zapata as he pastors a local church and leads both the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan Mission Districts
- Continued strategic relationships between the church in Panama and churches in Costa Rica
- The FM Theological Institute, offering classes to develop leaders in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama
- Continued multiplication of churches among the surfing community and in the cities of the central valley