One Year Later: Escazu Christian Fellowship (Costa Rica)

Pastor Don Ridder (center) with leaders of the new mission Esperanza Urbana (urban hope).

For just over ten years, ChapterNext has been helping churches discern their next step in pastoral leadership. This past year, ChapterNext had the privilege of working with Escazu Christian Fellowship in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Escazu Christian Fellowship is located in a part of Costa Rica that is home for many expatriates from all over the world. The church is very diverse, with congregants from the United States, Canada, France, Holland, Costa Rica and many other nations.

Pastor Don Ridder, formerly pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Pella, IA, answered the call to become pastor of Escazu Christian Fellowship convinced that God had prepared him for ministry in a foreign country. Plus, he had visited Costa Rica on a mission trip, and fell in love with the country and the people.

Don is a bi-vocational pastor who also serves as a missionary with Reasonate Global Mission.  He has spent this past year building relationships with local ministries and other missionaries in the area. In the year since he has come to Escazu, he has seen God working in many ways. One notable way that God has used the joint ministry efforts of the churches in San Jose was in the aftermath of the recent tropical storms that hit Costa Rica.  In the nearby town of La Carpio, a community youth center was destroyed by the tropical storm.  A team from the San Jose churches and mission groups was able to raise funds and gather supplies, and the center was completely rebuilt within a few months.

Don sees God moving within Escazu Christian Fellowship by increasing the impact they are able to have on their local and global community. The church has been going out into the community feeding the hungry, helping the homeless find housing and jobs, and helping addicts get sober. Locals are beginning to see Escazu Christian Fellowship as a place where the congregants really care about the locals and the community, despite this not being their native land.

Both Don and the leaders of Escazu Christian Fellowship are grateful for the work of ChapterNext in bringing Don to Escazu. Escazu Christian Fellowship had been searching for a pastor for over a year before contacting ChapterNext to help with the search, and had faced rejection from 3 candidates. They were nearing the point of giving up on their search when they reached out to ChapterNext.

Christine Little, former Council President of Escazu Christian Fellowship says “ChapterNext helped our international church find an excellent pastor in a short time frame and after we had struggled more than a year to manage the process on our own. Sam listened to us, and took the time to get to know about our unique church culture, our people, and our journey of faith. His service was invaluable to us.”

We are glad to see that this church is thriving and thankful for the opportunity to partner with is. If your church could benefit from the experience and passion of ChapterNext for your pastoral search, contact us.

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