Costa Rica Ministry Center opens

Update12_17b.cdrSeventeen years after construction began, Costa Rica Ministry Center is finally being fully utilized. The facility houses three ministries: the CECRE (Centro Educativo Cristiano Reformado) Christian High School, the CLIR (Confraternidad Latinoamericana de Iglesias Reformadas) printing operation, and the Pacto de Gracia congregation. The church has held worship services in a finished room on the second level of the building for several years, but the high school and print shop moved in during February of 2018. An open house to celebrate this significant milestone was scheduled for April 6.

The 115 high school students and instructors enjoyed their first day of classes in the new building on February 12. The larger space in a clean and quiet location includes a cafeteria area. While the students in six grades nearly fill the available space, there is room for about 40 more pupils.

It took a full day to move the printing operation from the garage of missionaries Bill and Aletha Green three miles and up a hill to the new building. Workers used a forklift to load presses and other equipment onto two trucks that made the trip three times. The CLIR print shop occupies the Ministry Center’s ground floor and shares an office with the high school. Air-conditioning keeps the shop and storage area free from humidity. More convenient installations will increase printing volume.

Many Christian Renewal readers have participated in work groups at the site since 2001. As many as four or five crews arrived annually from about 2005-2012. Construction then stalled for nearly five years, due to financial recessions and sharp increases in the cost of building materials. But almost two years ago, a contractor offered a quote of $330,000 to finish the project.

“The contractor was great,” Rev Green says. “We got an extra 25 percent built for the quoted amount. Four sheds, cafeteria, poured parking, and a lot of other nice things. God is good!”

Bill and Aletha Green have been working with missions in Costa Rica for over three decades. Aletha continues to be active with the Christian school, after having served many years as principal and on the board. She helped organize senior class trips to Grand Rapids, MI, in 2016 and Chino, CA, in 2017. Her current service includes baking sweet treats for a worldview class the couple conducts in their home.

“Our 33 years of experience in Costa Rica has enabled us to identify cultural impediments, and the worldview class is addressing this,” Rev. Green says. “Some things are universal: individualism, selfishness. Some things are specific to Costa Rica—people have a difficult time working together as a team. Our primary goal is to ensure that following generations will sustain and push the Costa Rican Reformed ministries forward.”

The three ministries seem to be moving forward. The school’s student body is steadily growing. The Pacto de Gracia Reformed Church has enjoyed growth during the past year and a steady stream of visitors. Many parents from within the school community are becoming interested in the church due to its biblical distinctiveness.

God is providing men to assume more leadership in CLIR as well. Lester Martinez serves as administrator and Daniel Lobo is a translator and editor. The two men are elders licensed to exhort.

“They both combine their love for God’s kingdom and the church with their passion for CLIR’s ministry—in publications, conferences, and church support,” Rev. Green says. “Both are willing to serve the CLIR ministry for the long haul. Praise the Lord for these two men, their tremendous gifts, and their commitment to the Lord and His church.”

Ministries and individuals making advances in Kingdom work often feel the presence of spiritual warfare, and those involved with the Costa Rican ministry are no exception. They request prayer for that and other matters.

“We feel the attacks of the evil one, even as so many good things are happening,” Rev. Green says. “Please pray that God will protect and use us.”

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 6 & 7 of the April 13, 2018, issue of Christian Renewal

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Church tour to end with return to Costa Rica

Bill-Aletha in Pella URCBy the time Rev. Bill and Aletha Green arrived at Covenant Reformed Church in Pella, IA, on January 9, 2013, they’d visited 18 churches since October. Pella was a stop on the way to give presentations at churches in Michigan on the last leg of their furlough trip.

At the beginning of February, they plan to return to Costa Rica. Rev. Green will resume his regular work as the Executive Secretary of CLIR (Latin American Fellowship of Reformed Churches). After 15 years as the Administrator of the TepeyacChristianSchool, Aletha will not be returning to that position.

“After a time of both spiritual and physical refreshment,” they said, “we’re looking forward to going back.”

At the Pella presentation, Mission Committee chairman Dr. Richard Posthuma opened the evening by reading Romans 1:8-17. Rev. Green remarked that Romans 1:16 was the theme verse the Greens chose that was printed on their prayer cards when they first went to Costa Rice 28 years ago.

Rev. Green listed two goals for the evening: that audience members would be informed about URC missions in Latin America and that they would be able to pray more knowledgably.

Although when first starting out in missions the Greens originally planned to be in Costa Rica only a short time while learning Spanish, they soon discovered that they had arrived during a time of great spiritual turmoil. There was no Reformed work at all in Costa Rica, where the stronghold of the Roman Catholic church was competing against new inroads being made by Pentecostal churches promoting a “health and wealth” perspective that Rev. Green called a “cruel gospel.”

There are now four Reformed churches in Costa Rica. Two of those are served by native pastors, one of whom was the first convert under the Greens’ ministry.

Out of a desire to help educate and bring the gospel to youth in a poor community, riddled by violence, the Greens helped begin the TepeyacChristianSchool in 1993. Now including both a grade school and a high school, construction for the secondary facility began in 2001 and is nearly complete.

bill speaking in Pella URC“The school has been very challenging,” said Rev. Green, explaining that most teachers require a great deal of teaching themselves since they are first generation converts and that financial support is a “huge struggle.”

The year 1993 also marked the beginning of CLIR and its print shop in the Greens backyard. The distribution of thousands of copies of CLIR’s theological journal has been particularly effective over the years. CLIR additionally has printed over 70 other titles of Reformed works in Spanish. Rev. Green points out that CLIR’s materials have a wide-ranging impact since Spanish is the predominate language “from the Rio Grande to the tip of Chile.”

CLIR is a fellowship of Reformed federations that promotes church planting, leadership training, and cooperative evangelistic efforts. Rev. Green noted that MINTS (Miami International Theological Seminary) works with CLIR to help equip church leaders throughout Latin America. Rev. Nick Lamme, a 2007 graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary came with his family to Costa Rica in 2008. He pastors a congregation, teaches at the school, and does writing, translating, editing, and computer work for CLIR.

The Board of CLIR met from November 26-27, 2012, in Orlando, FL. Lack of funds had prohibited the Board from meeting for the three previous years. During the meeting, which Rev. Green described as a “smashing success,” the Board discussed the financial crisis and noted with thanks a financial commitment from the Brazilian Presbyterian church. The Board also decided to focus on producing Reformed instructional materials for youth. In God’s providence, CLIR had already begun translating the new URC “Life in Christ” catechism curriculum.

Following concerns raised at Synod Nyack in 2012 regarding joint venture agreements and financial support between countries, the Greens want to stress that supporters in both the United States and Canada have unhampered avenues for contributions to their work. American churches or individuals can send gifts designated for “CLIR” or “Tepeyac school” to:

Bethany URC
Attn: JVC
5401 Byron Center Ave.
Wyoming, MI 49519

Canadian churches or individuals can send donations to:

Thunder Bay URC
PO Box 32012, 572 Arthur St. W.
Thunder Bay, ON  P7E 0A1
CANADA

More information about the Greens and the various aspects of their ministry in Costa Rica can be found at their website: http://www.reformedmissions.org

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 10-11 of the February 6, 2013, issue of Christian Renewal.