I know these have been my essays, but the story of Dale and his wife Shirley gave me a lesson that I need to share. I met Dale in 2006 in a dentist’s office in Costa Rica. We struck up a conversation and I was intrigued when I discovered they were American Baptist missionaries. I wanted to understand their story.
Dale and Shirley owned a couple grocery stores in central Florida. In 2000 during a missionary trip to Costa Rica with others from their home church in Florida, they felt the call of God to join the mission field full time. I have never understood why people always go to other countries for mission trips rather than address needs closer to home. I thought their reasons would always be something other than to just do the work of God. So I figured this would be a good time to find out. Dale and I were captives in the waiting room, what a perfect opportunity to have my question answered. As it turns out, it takes some time to begin mission work full time. By 2003, their stores and house were sold but their ABC (American Baptist Convention) mission was not yet ready for them. They purchased an RV and traveled around, saying goodbye to their children who lived in various places across the country. In 2004, Dale told his wife he didn’t want to leave and go into the mission field anymore. She reminded him of his commitment in 2000. His response: “God is going to have to give me a clear sign if we really need to do this.” At the next rest stop he was walking his dog when an Hispanic man come running up to him, crying and throwing his arms around him in big hugs. The man was thanking him for coming to Costa Rica to minister to his people. Turns out this was a relative of the person Dale and Shirley had been in contact with in Costa Rica. They were going to be returning to this person when all of the details were completed. The Costa Rican man just happened to be on a short trip, driving the same interstate, at the same rest stop, at the same time as Dale was. God didn’t need to say any more to Dale. Their mission began in Costa Rica in 2005. They do whatever they are asked to do. Mostly it is running a bus service and a soccer ministry with kids. Dale said in the past three weeks, seven children and teens have accepted Christ as their Savior. They are then connected with local churches so they can continue in their journey with God.
So there you have it – I don’t need to know why go to Costa Rica instead of a needy place in America. God knows why.