I was born and raised in Costa Rica, where I went to medical school and graduated as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). In 2003, I met Josiah, who came on a short-term missions trip, and five months later we got married. Josiah was applying to be a missionary with Foursquare Missions International (FMI), and I had always had this desire, too, so it was a really good match.
In 2005, we started working with the Cabécar people, an indigenous group in Costa Rica. We worked with them in traditional missions: sharing the gospel, doing Bible studies and supporting the work of Bible translation. I also did a little bit of medical missions and worked with a program that trained the girls to be midwives on the reservation.
The Cabécar people are animist in their religion and worldview; they have their own language and way of life, which is nomadic. They are very different from the Latin population of Costa Rica that I grew up with, and live scattered among the hills without living in a traditional village. It is very hard to access them. Even though it was my own country, it was a transcultural experience.
In 2014, we felt strongly God was going to start something new with us that could really help the Cabécar people. One day, FMI put out a phone call for missionaries, and they talked about Business As Mission (BAM). Both Josiah and I were sitting there crying; we felt so strongly that this was the answer to so many needs we saw for the Cabécar people.
Our idea was to start a business that could provide jobs and training. At the end of 2016, we acquired a large farm/forest area we call the Mountain of Dreams. We made an offer that was way lower than what the owners were asking. But they were Christian Catholics and felt really strongly that what we wanted to do with the farm was what they wanted to be done in the community. So, they lowered the price a lot, and we saw God’s hand in that, too.
For the past 3-1/2 years, we have been working in the Mountain of Dreams. We really believe in BAM—bringing transformation through business in four specific areas: spiritual, social, economic and environmental. We are located in an area that has a lot of economic needs. There is not a lot of work for the people here, so they have to go far away and leave their families to find work.
When you have a business, you have an open door into the community. I really encourage people to see how their gifts and abilities can be a tool for extending the kingdom of God where you are—no matter who you are, and no matter what you do.
We have the reforestation project, which is replanting on 40 hectares of the land. The rest of the land is primarily rainforest and under protection. It is incredibly beautiful, and we are working toward turning it into an ecotourism project in the future.
We also have a sawmill, where we process and sell lumber. We provide a quality product that is environmentally friendly, sustainable and renewable, while also being affordable for the local people.
In 2018, we started working with bees. Soon we will have 14 hives. I never thought I was going to work with bees, but it’s really fascinating! We are working with a native species, and the honey has a lot of antioxidants, higher antibiotic properties and medicinal uses. The bee project will open up jobs for single women with children in the area who have a hard time finding jobs.
This work is different than what we were doing before, but when you have a business, you have an open door into the community. I really encourage people to see how their gifts and abilities can be a tool for extending the kingdom of God where you are—no matter who you are, and no matter what you do. God can use you. There are people who need the gifts you have, and they can be a blessing for many.
This article was written with Danielle Mayfield.