New Life at 60 by Chris
When I first met Johel (Joel), I was struck by his great smile and overall joyful demeanor. Soon after meeting him, he told me stories about his grandmother. Johel was raised by his grandmother after his mother died when he was still very young. From all that I can surmise from his stories, Johel's grandmother was a wonderful, faith-filled woman. Our family has spent a lot of time with Johel since we arrived in Costa Rica, evangelizing, sharing, walking alongside one another, helping each other, praying, and singing praise and worship. One day, Johel reminded me of the Ethiopian in Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9 verse 36 where he asks Philip, "What is to prevent my being baptized?". Johel did not use these exact words but he said something like, "I have been around a lot of people from different churches but I believe that I want to be baptized into the same church as "my people". That is Johel's affectionate name for our family, "my people". Johel is originally from the Caribbean side (eastside) of Costa Rica from the province of Limon. Limon has a very unique culture that is similar in many ways to Jamaica. In Limon, many people speak English as well as Spanish. Johel prefers to speak English to us and his English sounds a lot like a Jamaican dialect. As part of the Great Commission in Matthew 28: 19-20, Jesus says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age." As missionaries, this is the crux of what we do so it was very exciting to have Johel ask this. At the time Johel shared this with us, he was very sick. His stomach was very bloated and his legs were extremely swollen. Johel had a hard time getting out of bed and was not eating because when he did, he would vomit up all that he ate. During one of our visits, Johel shared that the local public health clinic diagnosed him with leukemia. We urgently went to talk to the local parish priest about Johel's situation and he agreed to baptize him after we gave him the necessary baptismal preparation talks. Karen and I started going through the materials with Johel right away.
During this time, we were blessed to have a prospective future missionary family come and visit us in Costa Rica. We took this beautiful couple and their eight children to go visit Johel. At the end of our visit, we all laid hands on Johel and prayed that Jesus would heal him. Immediately afterward, Johel perked up and looked altogether different. His strength was back, he was smiling, and he even got up to walk us out saying that he felt much better and that Jesus healed him. Praise the Lord! We continued our baptismal preparation and I mentioned to the parish priest that we prayed over Johel and the Lord appears to have healed him. Fr. Geison said to me, "Didn't Jesus say, "they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mk 16:18). We are so blessed to have such an amazing priest to work with here in Santa Rosa.
We were blessed recently with another short-term mission trip, this time full of college-aged young adults on a FOCUS mission trip. You can click on the link to the left and a new window will open taking you to FOCUS's website. FOCUS is an acronym that stands for the Fellowship Of Catholic University Students and was founded by Curtis Martin and Dr. Edward Sri about 25 years ago at the urging of St. John Paul II at World Youth Day. FOCUS started with its first mission trip to Peru in 2004 and has since grown to over 50 countries and over 1,000 mission trips. It worked out that we could celebrate Johel's baptism with the 15 young adults that we coming on this mission trip. We had the baptism right at Johel's little apartment and it was a great celebration. I will include some of the photos and video's we have from the baptism. Johel baptism was the beginning of his new life in Jesus Christ. He was baptized priest, prophet, and king and was adopted into Jesus' family. God has great things in store for Johel. We will continue to walk alongside Johel as he desires to receive the other sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church, which are First Holy Communion and Confirmation.
Please pray for Johel, for the healing of his heart from the traumatic loss of his mother at a young age, reconciliation with his older brother who he hasn't seen in years, and for the grace to live out God's plan for his life.
Here are the photos and videos from Johel's baptism:
|The short-term group had a T.O.R. priest accompany them.|
|Karen and me with Johel|
|There were many musicians in the short-term mission group|
|Yet another guitar player in the group, singing for Johel|
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