That is a very good question! With all the “drama” of unexpected delays and changes (which seems to be the story for the majority of our missionary peers all over the world, so we are not unique, nor alone in this!), we are still crystal clear on some important things. This gives us a genuine joy and confident hope that God has kept us here for a good reason, but that this is not where we are to remain.
As we have meditated on the realities that God has laid before us, we have become convinced of His unchanged calling on our lives and we can come to no other conclusion than that He is actively moving to bring us back to Costa Rica and that the only hurdle we have remaining is the finances to return.
Please pray over our family and for God’s glory to shine brightly and unavoidably through our obedience to follow Him in each point of our realities (below).
Reality #1: The Church is not finished with the task which Jesus entrusted to it in Matthew 28 (that’s you and us)! Not all peoples have had a chance to engage with the Jesus-glorifying, life-transforming Gospel (evangelism). The ends of the earth have not yet been taught to obey all that Jesus commanded us (discipleship). Therefore, there is still work to be done all over the world! The majority of the peoples who have little to no neighborhood witness of the above live in the parts of the world where Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are the norm, not the exception. There is still work to be done, and that is why Jesus has not yet returned!
Reality #2: God made it clear that we, the Footes, are not to go and plant ourselves in the Middle and Far East. Sometimes, we really wish that God would move us there because we see how desperately people need to be invited to a personal, saving relationship with Jesus in those areas. However, for reasons we do not fully understand, God told us that we are to serve elsewhere, while a passion burns in us to see those peoples worshipping Jesus Christ – Him and only Him! One of the ways we have been led to pursue this passion, even while not living there, is for Marie to learn Arabic as her 5th language, now that she is confident and fluent in Spanish. God knows why He has given her this desire and please pray for her as she invests in this on her own time, over and above her daily responsibilities. This is like play-time for her and Jesus as she has always loved learning languages which allow her to connect with more people.
Reality #3: For yet more reasons we cannot fully explain, God opened doors and pushed us through them in amazing ways, to serve in Costa Rica, a country in which believers are being called to go to the Middle and Far East – the place where WE see the greatest need (statistically speaking) for an evangelical witness of Christ! WHAT?! We resisted the idea 5-6 years ago because we truly thought that serving God in a “tourist destination” was not what we needed to do. We were wrong, because God had another plan for us! We have learned to be certain that His plans for us are always best, even when we don’t understand. We were invited to consider serving in Costa Rica by fellow believers and mission leaders who were praying with us about our future. However, it was our Abba who laid it upon our hearts that if we said “No” to serving in Costa Rica, we would be disobeying Him. We obeyed and said “Yes, Lord!” He provided! We went! We were there for two years before we returned to Denver for health reasons and refreshment, even though we originally planned to stay for 3-4 years for our first term.
Reality #4: The way our family can best serve God in Costa Rica, is to help solve two problems that their workers sent to the Middle and Far East have:
1) How to enter those countries legally, with integrity, and bring the Gospel to the communities where God calls them and
2) How to maintain their financial support from partners who are unable to sustain long-term giving (a common issue for ministry workers all over the world, including us!)
Reality #5: Starting & running a small, sustainable business solves both problems in Reality #4. This has been called many different things in the missions world, and can be realized in many different ways, be it “Business as Missions” or “Business for Transformation” etc. Guess what God has equipped our family to do as we are entrepreneurs? God really DOES know what He is doing!
Reality #6: God dropped an incredible coffee business into our laps, literally and figuratively, in January 2015. If you do not yet know the story, you may find it here. Like our Latino brothers and sisters who are called to the same work we are in different unreached areas, we are not working a coffee business just to make money, or just so that money from the business can support “the real work” of ministry … RATHER, it is our coffee business which permits us to enter and stay in-country, it is what allows us to be planted in a local community, working alongside our neighbors, and … it is what gives us the wide open door to evangelize non-believers, to disciple believers, to worship Jesus and to call others to the transformational worship of Him! In other words: the business IS the ministry and the ministry flows through the daily existence of the business, as we worship Jesus openly with every step! This is what we are doing in Costa Rica, this is what our brothers and sisters will be doing as they take their businesses to the Middle and Far East and surrounding unreached areas. We are working together with them to accomplish this with God!
Reality #7: God is continuing to open doors for this coffee business and even with all our delays during this home assignment, He has made it abundantly clear to us and to those who are following our journey closely that we are to return to Costa Rica as soon as God provides for us to return!
Reality #8: Because the business is still brand new, we are not in a position to support our budget shortfall with income from the business now. Therefore, we need the help of many more faithful & generous donors and supporters who can help us with this gap, until we are able to draw partial income from the business in the future. Considering that we began this business last year and have been working it very part-time during our time stateside, we believe that we are exactly where we ought to be in this stage of our business life. When we return to Costa Rica, we will be able to work the business as our full-time ministry, alongside Roberto, Isaac and the other ministry workers with whom we are partnering there. We CANNOT WAIT to train, equip and disciple the people whom God is already sending our way to take our coffee into parts of the world where we cannot go. We are thrilled and eager to get to that stage!
Reality #9: Many of you reading this have not been called to go to Costa Rica to do this, just as we were not called to do it in the Middle & Far East. HOWEVER … if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you ARE called to do a version of what we’re doing in Costa Rica wherever He has placed you. Our work, our ministry, our service makes it possible for the name of Jesus to be lifted up in Costa Rica, and in the ends of the earth through the people we are sending, equipping, serving. Your faithfulness to serve God wherever you happen to be right now, especially as you pray for us, send us with financial support and encourage us in our calling, THAT leads people to worship Jesus where YOU are, and THAT helps us to obey God where He has told us to live and work and worship Him! Do you see how we are all in this together?
Reality #10: Jesus is definitely coming back … and there is reason to be hopeful that it is soon! We do not know the day, nor the hour of His return, but we are encouraged by His clear movements throughout the earth, as peoples from many tribes, tongues and nations are worshipping Him today and more are committing to see peoples from EVERY tribe, tongue and nation glorifying Him.
To God be ALL the glory for all of these realities!