By Joanne Highley
On March 5, 2007, in the dark and cold early hours of the morning Dick, Greg, Jon, our Spanish translator and myself gathered to go to Newark Airport for our next big ministry in the Caribbean. This visit had begun to be considered months earlier when our friend and former L.I.F.E. member, Richard Matic, had moved to Costa Rica to attend seminary there. He contacted Pastor Arturo Barrientos and his wife Evalina, and told them about our ministry. They came to see us in Manhattan to talk over the possibility of our ministering in his church,Torre de Adoracion, in San Jose, Costa Rica. So on March 5, 2007, we were set to go. However, it was amazing how things can not be communicated well and Dick and Greg were waiting for me at my building while I was waiting at the bus stop for them! Finally we, though the great technology of the cell phone, got together and were on the bus when I remembered I once again had forgotten my passport! This was the third time I had done such a thing when going to the Caribbean, but this time I had time to go home and get my passport and return in a $60 cab ride. I believe I will remember next time!
I remember standing in line at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica and seeing for the first time their national motto: Pura Vida, or pure life. What an inspiration and it is a lovely country full of lovely people who delight in having a pure life. I am sure not all of them believe in the pure life of the Spirit, but they do delight in Pure Vida as a concept. Pastor Barrientos and Evalina and Richard were waiting for us at the airport and took us to their wonderful offices in a large, impressive building in downtown San Jose, where we left our luggage and then walked down the block to a meeting of 23 pastors who had gathered to hear us speak and give testimony. We felt so blessed to be able to hand each pastor our syllabus, translated into Spanish so lovingly by Hector, Ricardo, Martha and Dick. Also we gave each pastor a packet of other testimonies and articles from our newsletters, all translated into Spanish. We had CDs and DVDs in Spanish as well We were so prepared for their great interest and their lively questions about our work. The father of Pastor Barrientos was in attendance who had been a great worker in Nicaragua, Peru, Panama and many other places in Central and South America. It was a privilege to meet him and answer the powerful questions he posed.
We then went back to the office and began the privilege of counselling and ministering to the eight people with problems of transvestism and transsexuality that the evangelical team had worked to bring to the Lord. In the time we were there we had the opportunity to see the city of San Jose with its beautiful government buildings, beautiful parks and gorgeous flowers. We were able to visit the hospital where Arturo had been born and where his church meets. It was near that hospital that transvestism and transsexual traffic was practiced.
So this faithful and obedient pastor answered the Lord's call to save and minister to those people trapped in this sin. Arturo and Evalina had studied in the London School of Theology and had ministered to people caught in sexual sin with Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel in California so they had a heart and good preparation for this work. But they needed more training specifically in the area of homosexuality and transvestism and transsexuality. We trained their evangelical team for three hours each night on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. They are a great group of deeply devoted people with hearts of mercy and grace. It was a great joy to see how they love to go out on the streets and give daily friendship and love to those trapped in this sin. We found in our counselling that there was a consistent pattern to the histories of these men and one woman. The machismo attitude of the men in Costa Rica caused many homes to be a story of drunken fathers who then came home to terrorize and beat the mother and the children. Out of that awful situation, the mother would take one son to be her confidant and surrogate emotional mate. That boy would take on the attributes of his mother because of hating and never wanting to be like the father, so the father in his machismo state would throw the boy out of the house and he would have to live on the streets. The boy could find work only through using his body to sell and out of this grew the demonic and addictive condition of transvestism (dressing like the opposite sex and being sexually aroused by that) and transsexuality (believing you are a man trapped in a woman's body or a woman trapped in a man's body). The one man we ministered to who had transsexual problems had hated his father so much that he had worked sexually dressed as a woman until he could raise the $20,000 to have the sex change. But now that he has come back to the Lord and desires to be what God created him to be, he says that they could take off the sex organs, but they could not change his brain where he still feels like a man. God's truth shines through when we come to Him and yield to him. We were so blessed to be allowed to call him David and not the feminine name he had taken. Most of these counselees we worked with there had been in prostitution for about 20-25 years. They had been saved only a short time but had a heart to change.
We were honored to present an hour television interview program with Congressman Guyon H. Massey Mora, the Deputy 2nd Secretary of the Legislative Directorate of the Republic of Costa Rica. Jon and I along with our Spanish translator were the guests on the program. The interview was well planned and guided by the congressman who is also a pastor in San Jose. He told us that the transsexuals and transvestites are working to gain adoption rights for those children who are cast out on the streets. He wants us to work with them to stand against this evil legislation. We were thrilled to find out that this program went out to 53 countries all over the world.
We were stunned and amazed at the Volcano Poas crater that Arturo and Evalina took us to see outside of San Jose. An enormous crater filled with steaming water and little fremolatas of sulphurous yellow spoutings greeted us as we stepped into the proximity of the crater. It is supposed to be the second largest volcanic crater in the world. It was truly amazing!
On Saturday we gave a full seminar in a large church in San Jose and 125 people attended from all over Costa Rica. We taught out of the syllabus, Jon and Greg gave testimony and we rejoiced at the response and the enthusiasm that they all expressed during and after this teaching. What a glorious experience! It seemed this was the first teaching that had come to Costa Rica in regard to this problem. We were beyond joy into real bliss at the seeds that were being planted and the hope that we were able to bring to these lovely people who had travelled many hours and sat for hours listening to our teaching. The Lord was with us and gave us fulfillment and peace.
The next morning we spoke for both services of Torre de Adoracion church. The power of God moved mightily on both services and the people were so responsive. Jon and Greg gave testimony and I spoke about the thrill of being in Costa Rica to do the Lord's work and to be with them for this glorious week. One of the men we had counselled came forward at the end of the second service and read this poem he had written to me. My eyes filled with tears of joy.
This is a poem entitled “Jhohanna” by Fernando Enrique Vargas
Beautiful lady, with dreamy eyes,
Your eyes reflect tenderness and love.
Your speech is like a bouquet
Of very pretty flowers that spread
An exquisite fragrance.
You come with your hands
Filled with hope.
To break chains and sow love.
To heal wounds of the soul.
You are the nurse and God is the doctor.
Today you have brought us new hope.
Now we know that indeed
There is a solution.
Today I want to ask you that
When you leave
You take me engraved on your heart.