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New Life in Costa Rica

Jeff Raymond on October 20, 2013 Comments (2)

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Ana arrived on Monday morning with mixed emotions.  As member of Fuerza Publica, the national police force in Costa Rica, Ana was excited to receive police training they’d never been given, yet maybe a bit uncertain, even inadequate.  She didn’t have much confidence in her tactical skills, and didn’t receive much respect as a woman nor a police officer.

But these Americans, for some reason she couldn’t understand, were taking their time to travel to her country to offer free help.  It was puzzling, yet exciting.

As a lieutenant in her precinct, Ana was sent along with a few of her colleagues.  The room in an abandoned warehouse facility was, for the most part, filled with people she did not know.

After introductions of everybody in the entire room, the first thing they did was hand out Bibles.  Ana had never had a Bible before  - well, except for the big Catholic Bible that her parents kept around the house.

Curiously, the next thing they did was to have everyone open the Bible and read some verses from it.  Certainly Ana had never done that before.

Then it got very interesting. The TACTICA officers explained that throughout the week, anyone who memorized certain verses from the Bible can earn valuable police gifts from several huge tables piled high with merchandise. Ana was off and running, excited about the chance to earn things she’d only dreamed of owning for herself.

As expected the training was difficult – very difficult.  But amidst their desire to pour into the professional lives of her Costa Rican colleagues, these American officers were different – very different.  They showed a love and respect that she never experienced before.

As Ana memorized Scripture verses during every break and lunch time she could, she began to be amazed by the content of what she was reading.  Questions flooded her mind, compelling her to go to one of the American officers in search of answers.  Marty, an officer from Kalamazoo, Michigan would challenge her and send her home each day with more verses to read and questions to answer.  Then as soon as she arrived for the next day of training, he would greet her and ask what she thought.

“Where are you with God?  What has God been showing you?” he would ask.

She said,  “This verse hit me hard.  We were never told anything like this in the church.  ‘Porque por gracia sois salvos por medio de la fe’.  (For by grace you have been saved through faith.)  Nobody ever showed me anything like this before.”

“Que es ‘gracia’?”  (What is grace?), Marty would ask.  And the intense conversation continued.

As the week went on, Ana knew she needed Jesus.  She wrestled with the truth of His Word and the message of salvation.   Through missionary Mike Armstrong serving as translator, she and Marty had long talks.

But her hang up was with her status.  What would her subordinates say?  What would this mean for her leadership role?

An air of celebration filled the room as Ana, along with the 85 other Costa Rican officers, arrived for the graduation ceremony, where missionary Ryan Rought gave a very clear gospel presentation.  Those who accepted Christ were asked to stand and come to the front to publicly acknowledge their salvation.

Ignoring the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement of the American police officers, Ana did not respond to that presentation.  Marty was devastated.  Mike was disappointed.   Ana was so close, but so far away.  Ana went home that night dead in her sins but knowing the truth of God’s Word.


Even though many were saved the week I was in Costa Rica, there were many whose story resembled Ana’s.  My involvement was for the purpose of beginning a video project that would promote the TACTICA Ministry Center – a building complex that our missionaries desire to purchase as a home base for TACTICA’s ministries.  The rental of this property would allow them to have a physical presence, where Costa Rican officers can return and seek help from those who have shown them God’s love.

A week after returning from Costa Rica, I received this email from team leader, Ryan Rought:

Ana contacted me, then Mike and finally came down to the TACTICA Ministry Center on Tuesday.  She said that she had truly thought through the Gospel and decided that she 100% needed Jesus.  She said that during the course, she felt like she was complicating the message and making it harder than it was.  Ana said, "It is just Jesus, nothing more and nothing less!"  Praise God for Ana's salvation! John 14:6

 


 

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  1. Mike Armstrong November 21, 2013

    Thanks Jeff for tell this story. Since that week, Ana has been faithfully meeting for Bible study. It has been exciting to hear about her enthusiasm as she reads her Bible.

  2. Ellen November 21, 2013

    I'm giving praise to God for what he did in Ana's life and what he is doing in Costa Rica! Thank you for sharing this and your part in God's work there.

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