Reformed Mission in Latin America: Costa Rica Ministry

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A Reformed church planting effort was established in the northwest part of San Jose in 1984. By God's grace a congregation has been organized in the "Tepeyac" community, and a Christian school founded. Roberto Venegas, a convert of this effort, is now the full time pastor of the church, and is supported by an organized church council. The Tepeyac Christian School is incorporated in Costa Rica, and is governed by a school board.  Local ministries of the Tepeyac church include evangelism, theological education, diaconal service to the needy and support to the broader school community in various ways.

The Tepeyac Reformed church sustains a daughter church in the community of Los Cuadros, formerly a squatters' settlement, and an area of great social and spiritual need. Marvin Briseño, an elder of the Tepeyac church, lives in Los Cuadros with his family and gives leadership to the growing congregation there. Their greatest needs include family stability and responsibility, the fight against drugs, orientation for the youth, and income for abandoned mothers.

In 2004 the Greens began another daughter church, which presently meets just across from the prestigious University of Costa Rica. God has brought new members and the congregation is growing. A Christian book store is also operating in the same storefront during the week.


 

Tepeyac School

History: The Tepeyac Christian School (TCS) was begun in 1992 as an extension ministry of the Iglesia Reformada de Tepeyac which has its ministry in a residential area on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica. The Tepeyac church became more and more convinced of the need for a school, and the three main factors were the following: 

1) The scriptural mandate to train our children in the fear of the Lord became more and more urgent as consumerism and secularism has invaded the Costa Rican society. Public schools in Costa Rica have not been able to withstand these forces. As a support for our christian families the church felt the need for Christian education, for many families are affected by these same values.

2) Our work in the squatter settlement of Los Cuadros, a community with severe social problems, poverty, and drug/alchohol abuse, impressed upon us the need for a greater involvement with the children if the cycle of poverty were to be broken. We saw generation after generation following in a cycle which only spiraled downward. Christian ministry which was limited to the "normal" forms of Sunday school and church activities was not sufficient to transform the values of the children, their patterns of conduct, their feelings of inability. The Tepeyac church became convinced that we needed a multi-faceted approach to the problem of poverty: we would maintain an evangelistic and teaching ministry in the community; we would begin a school which treated the spiritual aspects of these children; included in our curriculum would be the tools for successful careers in Costa Rica - this would include English and computing, among other things.

3) The radical decline in membership of the Protestant churches in Costa Rica has been caused by a fanatical emotionalism, poor testimony and lack of trained leadership. The image of evangelical churches is so bad that evangelism has become very difficult. The Tepeyac school would also be a testimony of our church to the community of our identity and commitment with the Costa Rican society, especially in the area of education. We would open the school to those parents who were willing to support our biblical, Christ-centered philosophy of education, even if these parents were not members of an evangelical church. In this way our school also would serve as an evangelistic testimony.

In 1992 the school was opened with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, two teachers and 20 students. From this time it has grown to a school of 250 students, offering K - 11th grade (complete grade school and high school), and has a staff of 30, including 1 volunteer English teachers. Almost half of the staff are members of our Tepeyac church, and the other half come from various evangelical churches. Besides paid staff, there are members from the church who volunteer on a regular basis in counseling, repair work, and other tasks. The great majority of our operating budget is paid for by tuition, even though this has been an extremely difficult road. The school has kept tuition well below most private schools of Costa Rica, and has also provided tuition help for up to 1/3 of its students. It has been able to do this through the many volunteers who cooperate with this ministry.

God has blessed the school with a wonderful building, the product of cooperative efforts of many churches and individuals from the US and Canada, as well as the Tepeyac church. The building has sixteen classrooms, an administration building, ample bathrooms and a storage room. Our grounds are not large, but we have done what we can to make them adequate for playground use.

We are thankful to the Lord for the hundreds of people who have given of time and money for this project. The Tepeyac school has truly been a testimony of God’s love poured out through the unity of joint efforts of His people!

 


Tepeyac Christian High 

School graduated third senior class

 

December 15, 2006 marked the third graduation of the Tepeyac High School.  Two of the students in the graduating class began their education in the Tepeyac kindergarten!  One was Michelle Green.  Other students studied for many of their school years in the Tepeyac school, and the teachers all agreed that this class was an exceptional class, with many serious students.  That included students serious about their faith as well as their studies.  Praise the Lord with us for another milestone attained!  Several people addressed the students and parents, including Aletha Green as principal, Ricardo Venegas as home room professor, and Rev. Bill Green for the address to students and parents.  Let us continue to pray for the future of our students, that their lives might glorify God in many ways!

 

Costa Rican Reformed churches

celebrate joint service for Reformation Day

The four congregations of the Costa Rican Reformed churches joined for a stirring service celebrating Reformation Day.  Each congregation brought a song dedicated to one of the 'Sola's' of the Reformation.  One congregation even wrote a song especially for the occasion!  True to tradition, there was a drama - this time conmemorating William Farel's call to Calvin to stay in Geneva.  And a sermon taken from Nehemiah 8 reminded us all that God's work of 'Reformation' among his people is not new, and will always be needed when the Church drifts away from God's word.  Pastor Timothy from California was invited to give the message.  A time of fellowship followed the service, with tamales provided by the Cartago congregation.  All in all, the brethren were very encouraged, and we thank the Lord for His mercy and love showed to our churches.

 

 

'Pacto de Gracia' Reformed Church

celebrates 2nd anniversary

 

In October, 2006, the Pacto de Gracia Reformed Church of San Jose, Costa Rica celebrated God's goodness during the past two years.  From the tiny beginning two years ago, God is bringing together a beautiful spiritual family, with many and varied gifts for ministry.  The congregation celebrated a joyful service, with wonderful singing exalting God's faithfulness, testimonies from our original members, and a message from God's word looking to the future.  We praise God for these two years, and pray that He continue to use this church for His glory!

 

 

 

Profession of faith and baptisms

in Covenant of Grace Church

 

The angels celebrated in heaven Sunday, the 23rd of April, as three people were united to the 'Pacto de gracia' congregation (Covenant of Grace Church).  Karla Frances made profession of faith, and her child, Amanda, was baptized.  And Gilson and Fabiana Gurgel baptized their second child, Manuela.  Karla's extended family joined us for worship - some of whom are not attending any church, as we pray that the Word preached might reach them.  Praise the Lord with us for God's covenant faithfulness, and the joy He gives to be able to raise children in the faith.  Please pray for Amanda and Manuela, that God will work faith in their hearts from earliest age. 

 

Reformed faith on television

 The response has been surprising.  Three calvinist pastors (among them Rev. Bill Green) have begun a TV program which discusses contemporary issues in light of the Scriptures.  Using a round table format, the half hour program has made something of a 'splash'.  Christian TV is so full of superficial, sentimental and ill-planned programs, that many people are hungering for something substancial.  The program will contain as it's first priority the exposition of the Scriptures - in accordance with the name of the show:  'Sola Escritura'.   With four programs filmed, the participants are not quite as nervous as at first!  Please pray that the Lord will use this short program to influence many in Costa Rica and beyond - there is a possibility that the TV channel will go international through satellite. 

 

Tepeyac High School construction gets 

a major boost!

 

Edgardo Fuentes, the project manager for the Tepeyac High School construction, said recently "there is no doubt in my mind that God is watching out for us".  He was referring to the series of hard-working volunteer teams that visited Costa Rica during January and February of this year, 2006.  Each team left a tremendous amount of work accomplished, pleasant experiences with our Costa Rican crew, and a great testimony of Christian cooperation.  Fotos do not do justice to all the effort, since much of the work was on foundations. 

 

 

Inauguration of new locale for the 

Covenant of Grace Reformed Church

San José, Costa Rica

 

    On September 10, 2005 the Covenant of Grace church plant inaugurated their new locale, located right across from the University of Costa Rica, an ideal spot.  The plan is to open a Christian book store during the week, with services at night and on weekends - in this way providing visibility for the work, and offering Reformed literature.      Church leaders from the other Reformed congregations joined the group for an inauguration service, after which a nice time of fellowship, food, and coffee was had.  Pray with us for blessing on this new place.

 

New members added by profession of faith and

baptism to the Covenant of Grace Reformed church

 

Alejandro Méndez has been attending the Covenant of Grace church plant for 9 months, and has studied the pre-baptismal course with Rev. Bill Green.  His enthusiasm for the Reformed faith grows every day, and he has worked hard to bring friends and family to the church also.  On August 27, 2005, Alejandro was accepted as a member by profession of faith, and his daughter Michelle (13 yrs. old) was baptized.  His sister Carolina is beginning a bible study with Rev. Green and attending services as well.  Praise the Lord for fruit upon the seed sown! 

 

New courses begin for Reformed university in Costa Rica

The next round of courses in theology have begun in Tepeyac, Costa Rica.  Both treat doctrinal themes, and one will be a self study course.  Rev. Bill Green is giving a course on "Justification  by Faith" and related themes, such as Original Sin, the covenants, and the nature of true faith.  The course will include reflection on the positive consequences of affirming the Scriptural doctrines of grace.

Los Cuadros chapel gets "Cornerstone"!

The Tepeyac daughter church in Los Cuadros is finally getting a chapel in which to meet.  For 10 years the Tepeyac church has maintained an evangelistic and diaconal presence in this community riddled with drug abuse, alcoholism, violence and family disintegration.  5 years ago, Marvin Briseño, an elder in the Tepeyac church, decided to take his family and live in Los Cuadros, lending his house as a church, and giving leadership to a small flock.    The new locale will serve for church meetings, as well as for a sewing cooperative during the week which will provide income for women in the church who struggle with poverty.  A big "Muchas Gracias!" to the Cornerstone church and work team. 

Reformed university already underway!

The Tepeyac Christian School project thought that the process would be: First grade school, then high school, then a university if God permitted.  Well, with the help of Dr. Neal Hegeman, a graduate level school has already been founded, and is presently granting courses in theology and biblical studies.  With accreditation from the state of Florida, Dr. Hegeman is working to establish such learning centers in various parts of Latin America and North America.  The program allows for flexibility - some courses are given through extension, others by visiting professors. There are eight students presently enrolled - some in the "licenciatura" program, and some in the masters' level.  We praise the Lord for this opportunity to train our leaders in Scripture and Reformed doctrine.  It is especially important to have this resource for our young people.  The future high school facilities will also serve the reformed university.

  Sources: http://www.reformedmissions.org/costa_rica_ministry.html - http://www.reformedmissions.org/costa_rica_school.html