Bethany Baptist Church folks decorated the church van and drove it in the Ava Christmas Parade, Saturday. Some of the more agile folks walked along the parade route handing out “John and Romans” booklets and an invitation to visit the church. The weather was favorable and it seemed that there were more people along the parade route than there had been prior years. Our guest missionary, Sarah Jean Marshall, helped hand out the booklets.
Sarah is traveling across America sharing her burden for Costa Rica. The people in Costa Rica are not steeped in poverty as is the case in many other Central American countries and Mexico. But the people largely follow a religion of works, self affliction, and rituals and do not know that salvation is not something earned by their own good works, but salvation is a gift of God, to be received by the grace of God through faith.
Sarah grew up in a pastor’s home. She had heard the teaching and preaching of the gospel all her young life, but it was after a family devotional time one evening, when she had heard and understood that she could not inherit her salvation from her parents or grandparents. She realized that she was lost. Her father wanted to be sure that she really understood, so he carefully led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
When she was young she felt a call to be a missionary, but she was afraid that if she surrendered to the mission field that she might be called to some dreadful place with bugs, a terrible climate, and no conveniences. But when she was still a teenager she surrendered to be a missionary anywhere the Lord would send her. When she went to college she enrolled as a missions major. One of the requirements of that program was to make several mission trips during summers. One trip took her to Panama where the conditions were as bad as she had ever imagined. The heat and humidity made it extremely uncomfortable, but the cockroaches were something to keep you awake at night.
Sarah had not had a definite call to a particular country, until a few years later, while she was working as a church secretary, she happened to read a letter from a missionary in Costa Rica. She could not get that ministry out of her mind and when she made her first trip there, she says that she felt like she was going home.
Sarah is planning to help a missionary family who is already in Cartago, which is in central Costa Rica. Ryan and Lori Bickel and their children have started a church ministry there and also have been giving foster care to children without homes. Sarah is planning to begin a music ministry for children and a mentoring program with young Christian girls and women.
Sarah played the piano for the congregational music in the Sunday services and sang a special song before Pastor Bob Sorensen brought a message, “How will you die?”
There was a certain rich man at whose gates the beggar, Lazarus, was laid to receive the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. The rich man died and went to hell. He did not go to hell because he was rich or because he failed to feed Lazarus with better food. He died and went to hell, because he had not prepared himself to meet God. He wanted to be free to do just what he wanted, to enjoy the pleasures of sumptuous living. Some people forget that the wages of sin is death. Death come to every person whether they are saved or not. Some die in shame. There may be a comforting eulogy spoken over the casket, but God will be the judge. There will be some like the martyr Stephen, who die unafraid and unashamed. People will die the way they lived. To die unsaved is to be unsaved forever. It is best to die prepared because hell has no end.