We have a tradition of supporting ministries outside First Trinity through a special offering on Christmas Eve and Easter. For Christmas, we focus on an international ministry. We’re excited to be supporting Josh and Kari Keithley, missionaries to Costa Rica. Josh was on staff at First Trinity in 2004-2005 for his DCE Internship. We’ve asked Josh to share their plans, which you can read below.
To the community of Tonawanda and family and friends of First Trinity:
It is an honor and a blessing to be receiving First Trinity’s Special Christmas Offering this year. The Keithley family continues to be so thankful for the many ways God is providing for us and now He is bringing you along on our mission. We are the Keithleys; Josh, Kari, Avery, Aiden, Adler, and Allie. We recently moved down to Costa Rica (currently experiencing a cold front of 59 degrees) from Omaha, Nebraska where I served as the Director of Student Ministry for the last 7 years and Kari was a stay at home mom and served on the Children’s Ministry team. In 2014, God began to lay on our hearts His desires for us to serve him radically. It was scary not knowing what exactly how this would look. After a series of trips to Costa Rica various missions, God made it evident to us that He was calling us to give up everything we had, leave everyone we know, and move to Costa Rica to pursue His calling on our lives.
We are currently learning Spanish at the Spanish Language Institute in San Jose, Costa Rica and will graduate in August of 2018. Much like the city of Buffalo there is a rich history of Catholicism in Costa Rica and it is still the official faith of Costa Rica. Many have fallen far away from the church both in the Catholic and Evangelical communities and we know we are here to share the love of Christ in a new way that many of never seen or heard of. We feel God has shown us that his desires are to use us through Family Ministry all over the country through 4 primary ministries:
- Developing a discipleship model for new followers of Christ
- Leadership training in the local communities and church
- Teaching truth and love in healthy marriages and relationships
- Instruction in Biblical parenting & God’s design for a family unit
Our mission (Christ for the City International) is helping people transform cities by transforming lives all over the country of Costa Rica.
We have three primary ministry bases we will be working in:
- La Carpio is the largest slum in Central America and the home of tens of thousands of refugees from Nicaragua and Panama seeking refuge from lives of prostitution where young girls are being raped and abused by their own family members, some as young as 7 or 8 years old. At our ministry site (located across from the city dump) these children (some already with children) receive medical care, an education, sports programs, and the HOPE of Jesus through love and kindness they have never known.
- Pavas is the home of the most notorious gangs in Costa Rica, many of them coming from the slum area known locally as “the devils playground.” As you can expect, there is extreme violence amongst gangs, drug wars, and prostitution. Before Christ for the City established ministry in Pavas, it had the highest rate of gang related deaths in the whole country. It now boasts the lowest rate of gang related deaths in the country. Gang members and leaders are coming to faith in the Lord weekly through our after school programs, weekly outreach events, and Extreme Camps where they exchange their guns for bibles. Many of them risk death by simply making the decision to follow Jesus. We have a new refuge for victims of this violence and abuse that currently has 13 men receiving care and love through medical attention, weekly discipleship classes, and daily responsibilities in the refuge. Here we are immobilizing the local church pastors to serve their community.
- Tirasses is the former location of the city dump where many found refuge in the dump rummaging through whatever they could find to sell to survive. When the dump was closed all the men left seeking survival and left all the women and children behind. Today this community is filled with Costa Ricans, Nicaraguans, and Panamanians well below the poverty line. We have established a partnership with a church in Nebraska where they have helped build a community center that operates as a hub for multiple ministries. Prostitution and drugs are the main means of survival all in the shadow of witchcraft. There have been recent outreach events designed to eradicate gangs, prostitution, and addicts from the lies of the enemy and instill the HOPE of Jesus through weekly kids programs, weekly women’s bible study, and community leader meetings. We have recently seen one of the most powerful gang leaders in all of San Jose come to faith in Jesus. He is forever thankful for the ministry that Christ for the City has and as a result his 5-year daughter helped lead him to Jesus.
It is our goal to work within these established ministries developing leadership academies, weekly discipleship classes for new believers, and marriage & parenting seminars. It is through these ministries we believe God will raise up Godly men and women to plant new ministries in the local community throughout the country sharing what God has done in their lives.
This is a lot to grasp and we know how you are feeling because we too thought they same not too long ago. Through this journey God has shown us so much through our obedience and trust in what He has asked us to do. We are still only in the very early stages of our ministry and have a long ways to go. Here is how you can help us:
- First, please pray for our family (Josh, Kari, Avery 8, Aiden 7, Adler 5, & Allie 3) for clear vision, supernatural Spanish speaking skills, safety, good health, and more partnerships for our ministry.
- Second, we ask that you would consider giving to First Trinity’s Special Christmas offering online or at Christmas Eve services. You can also come alongside us as a monthly supporter.
However God is leading you, we know and trust His provisions for our family and the ministry He has set before us. Thank you and God’s richest blessings to you this Christmas season!