Costa Rica’s breathtaking beaches, dense rainforests and towering volcanoes make this Central American nation one of the most intriguing destinations in the world. A country rich in agriculture, its economy is growing in the areas of technology and tourism, and the standard of living is relatively high.
Approximately 4.5 million people live here, according to 2010 estimates. The majority of them are Roman Catholic (76.3 percent); evangelicals comprise 13.7 percent; Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1.3 percent; and Protestants, 0.7 percent. “Other” religious views represent 4.8 percent, and 3.2 percent have no affiliation.
Josiah and Cynthia Hubbard, along with their two children, Joel and Ian, have lived in Costa Rica for six years. As missionaries to the nation for Foursquare Missions International (FMI), the couple primarily works with the Ditsei tribe (locally known as the Cabecars) as well as area Foursquare churches. They live in Jicotea, a small village of approximately 500 people.
There are approximately 70 Foursquare churches and meeting places across the country, as well as a drug rehab ministry and a Bible institute in San Jose, the capital. Costa Rica is a Stage 4 nation in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model. Stage 4 is the Send-Extending stage, meaning, as a nation, they have developed responsible, reproducing, missionary-sending churches. The tribe the Hubbards work with is between Stage 1 (Initiate-Evangelizing) and Stage 2 (Nurture-Strengthening).
Why did you become a missionary?
Josiah: My wife and I have always desired to work with people who have never heard the gospel before. In 2003, when we heard about this tribe living in a location that’s a three-day hike into the jungle and having never heard of Jesus, something clicked in my heart. I made a trip that year to meet the people, and after that we began to make trips more often.
Eventually a Foursquare church from Vancouver, Canada, came and helped us build a house and establish the project that we run. We became even further involved when we met a missionary family who has been working with them for years and is finishing a translation of the New Testament into the Ditsei language.
Our desire for them is that a local, culturally accurate church will be strongly established among them and that they, in turn, would take the gospel to other tribes in the area. We certainly don’t want to impose the Costa Rican “church” on them, something that has already been done. Instead, we desire that in their own language they would know the Maker of culture and tongues, and come to love Him.
What would you like people in the U.S. to know about ministering to the Ditsei tribe?
Josiah: I think a lot of people have the idea about missions being conducting mass evangelism in the parks, city squares and streets. Well, out in the jungle there are no parks, squares or streets. Moreover, there are practically no condensed population areas, no villages.
The Ditsei live spread out in miles and miles of jungle, living off the land. It is usually a 30-minute hike to get to the next home and, therefore, evangelism is a very time- and energy-consuming activity. They have no electricity, phones or stores, so when you go out there you either have to take your own food and supplies or just trust that the Lord will supply. This is not applicable to the whole country of Costa Rica—in fact it is almost only applicable to a couple of tribes here—but it takes ministering to a whole new level.
Tell us about someone whose life has been changed through Foursquare ministry.
Josiah: A young man named Noe came to participate in our high school scholarship program here in Jicotea. We did not know it at the time but his father, a supposed “believer,” was setting him up for training as a witchdoctor. After a few months of being here with us, Noe began to realize that the thing he had been calling “god” was very different that the God who is represented in the Bible. We therefore challenged him to find out more about who the tribe’s god is, and who Yahweh is.
After a few weeks, Noe said he had spoken to the witchdoctors and elders, and realized there is no way they are the same deities—a common misconception among the people here. We told him that the Lord wants to be known by him and to know him and love him, but that we must decide who we would follow.
Noe chose Jesus and was, therefore, practically banished from his family and rejected by many on the reservation. Now, five years later, he is about to graduate from high school and go on his first short-term missions trip to Mexico. He is planning to be a full-time minister and work on the translation of the New Testament.
Have any teams come from the U.S. to help out?
Josiah: Nine teams came in 2010. One team helped give assistance to 500 children in primary school. Two teams helped build here on the project and gave leadership training in local churches. Other teams helped with community work at the local school, and did evangelism and some teaching in churches.
What is your vision for the future?
Josiah: We have long wanted to raise up local leaders and workers so that they can do the work, better than ourselves, with the Ditsei. We don’t just want to teach them the Bible in theory, but in practice, in their everyday lives. We are creating different technical training for them, in woodworking, farming, crafts and other things that they will be able to do in the jungle. We see God giving these people a life that is very worth living, full of blessings for them and blessings for them to give to other people.
How to Pray for the Hubbards:
- Pray against witchcraft and cultural strongholds.
- Pray for encouragement for the workers.
- Pray for perseverance.
- Pray for their family. They are building a home deeper in the jungle so they can spend more time with the people there.
- Pray for their marriage. They constantly have people in their home and find themselves with very little personal time.
- Pray for more power in their personal lives.
How You Can Bless the Hubbards:
Our Foursquare missionaries are always encouraged by and grateful for any prayers and correspondence they receive. Whether it’s a gift sent on a holiday, or simply a letter or note of encouragement, you can make a difference by expressing your support in a practical way.
To send correspondence to Josiah and Cynthia, e-mail email@example.com or write to the following address:
Josiah and Cynthia Hubbard
Tayutic, Turrialba, Cartago
Interview conducted by: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles