Berryville Church of Christ's mission to Costa Rica grows

Monday, January 19, 2004
Members of a new church of Christ congregation in Coronado, Costa Rica, pose with translators, local church leaders and the mission team from Berryville Church of Christ. Berryville church members making the week-long trip in December were Kevin and Mary Lynn Cauley, Larry and Susan Elliott, and John Gass. Berryville Church of Christ photo

Berryville Church of Christ runs around 80 persons in weekly attendance. At the same time, the church is financially supporting a pastor serving two congregations in Costa Rica, which, when combined, runs about the same.

Pastor Kevin Cauley, along with church members Mary Lynn Cauley, Larry Elliott, Susan Elliott and John Gass, made up the mission team the church sent to Costa Rica Dec. 1-8.

And, Pastor Cauley said, changes could be seen compared to what he saw there in January 2002.

Most notable is a new congregation established in Coronado by Costa Rican pastor Moises Umana in 2003.

Umana, who visited the Berryville Church of Christ about one year ago, also pastors the original church in Tres Rios, located near the nation's capital of San Jose.

Umana and his spouse, Maritza, have moved into a new house, their former home being part of the church building.

While Tres Rios is pretty much a slum area, the economic situation appears to be changing rapidly, Pastor Cauley said. A new shopping mall, comparable to the larger malls in the United States and said to be the largest mall in Central America, has opened there.

It is somewhat incongruous to see a shanty directly across the street from the modern mall, Cauley said, but the mall is bringing new jobs for residents and increased property values.

Attendance at the Tres Rios Church of Christ runs between 50 and 60, or a little more, Cauley said. That number does not necessarily reflect the number of persons involved in the church, as most residents do not have cars and rely on walking or public transportation.

The new congregation in Coronado consists primarily of three families. Coronado is a geo-political area of some 100,000, and the society is more middle class than in Tres Rios.

While the people are not wealthy, most families have one car, Cauley said. Most of the men are in management positions, so there is a little more money.

The Coronado church started in 2003, and attendance is currently running at about 25 each week.

In Coronado, the Berryville team partnered with local church members in home visitation and distribution of tracts, and conducted a Friday evening service.

The following day was the Berryville team's busiest, starting with a trip back to Coronado for a practice of a skit by young people. A youth study was held that afternoon, and as Cauley prepared for that, he observed the skit rehearsal focusing on the influence the devil has over people through alcohol, drugs and money.

Cauley took off his hat for devotionals both in the morning and that afternoon, resulting in a sunburn on his forehead. He said he was as red as a beet when he preached that evening.

On Sunday the mission group went to morning services in Tres Rios, and afternoon services in Coronado. The team unexpectedly became involved in Bible study classes for both adults and young people.

During the evening service in Coronado, Cauley ran into the language barrier while preaching. His topic was faithfulness, and when he used the expression "This is where the rubber meets the road," the translator told him there was no Spanish for that. The meaning was lost when he translated it directly, so he used another expression that is loosely translated to English as "You've got to put the heat to the ant."

The message was understood by the congregation, and Cauley moved on with his sermon.

Altogether, the team conducted 12 Bible studies, distributed more than 2000 pieces of literature, provided new Bibles and songbooks for the Coronado church, and distributed clothing and toys.

Cauley said that the trip schedule worked better with the team being in-country Monday through Monday, allowing a full weekend to work with the congregations.

"We hope to hear of additional fruits from our labors," he said. "Our job is to sow and water and God will give the increase."

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