We, Dennis and Jolaine Thomas have served as missionaries on foreign soil for over 40 years. Our journey began in San José, Costa Rica in 1982 where we arrived with five little children to study the Spanish language for one year. While in language school God added to us a baby girl and our last daughter was born two years later. From there we moved our family from ten to twelve hours, depending on the condition of the loose gravel mountain road, to the southern frontier town of Golfito which is just one hour from the border of Panama. There, knowing that we needed the experience of helping a seasoned missionary, we joined forces with him in his labor with two works. We were just getting settled in when the hosting missionary had an emergency causing him to leave Costa Rica with little hope of returning. We could barely speak Spanish when we found ourselves with the full weight of the care of two mission works. It was grow up time. It wasn’t long before the two works were independent and gave us liberty to begin another work out of town in the countryside where the Mt. Zion Baptist Church was started.
Our next move took us north of the capital to Tronadora where we agreed to help the Grace Baptist Church get back on its feet. While caring for this work and at the same time, we started meeting in four different areas: Cañas, Chimurria, Arenal, and Piave, all different days of the week. The teaching point in Chimurria was a congregation of Nicaraguan people and when Nicaragua opened back up after the war they all left and went back home. The ministries in Cañas and Adrenal failed to thrive but others came behind and did a work. The mission in Piave found footing and became Jacob’s Ladder Baptist Church.
Our next move was further south to the town of Palmares about an hour north of the capital. Here in this town the Baptist Church of Palmares was established with a mission point in Santiago. This effort in Santiago later became a church under the leadership of another missionary. We also had acquired a property in Santiago where we lived and developed it into a youth camp that hosted 300 young people for a week at a time preaching, teaching and fellowship. Many were saved and lives changed. This property is now being used for a church and leadership training.
While ministering in Palmares we were asked to head up a ministry in southern Mexico that had been built over 100 years by renowned missionaries who had hazarded their lives and those of their families’ to establish over 100 churches and seminary. We labored there two years preaching day and night. A block of land had been given in the city of Saltillo where the seminary was sub-divided with teachers and student and moved 1000 miles north. It was Ezequiel Sanchez who went and now has established a New Testament Baptist Church.
While our lives were so blessed through the Mexican work and people, God was driving us by His Spirit to the war torn country of Nicaragua. In years past during the war, we had ministered to those who had fled for their lives down into Costa Rica. Many of these we had won to Christ and putting ourselves at risk traveled with them into Nicaragua and met their families. Now the Spirit of God said, “ Go, Live and Minister”. We lived 14 years in Granada, Nicaragua where souls were saved and the Messiah Baptist Church was established. Later on we moved up into the northern country and lived four years in Matagalpa. The men of Granada met at 5:00 am for leadership training, teaching verse by verse through the books of Genesis, Romans and Hebrews. It was on one of these mornings that the men said, “It is not right that we alone should hear and know the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and the untold riches of his Word. We want the entire province of Granada to hear so we have arranged radio time. Now, go today and work out the details and pay the bill for a daily 15 minute program.” That moment was the beginning of what has now become a daily program covering local AM. and FM stations all over Central America with a listening audience coverage of twenty million daily including the countries of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize……….and that is just for now! We have a pending trip to Colombia……..tickets are bought but just waiting for the world shut-down from the Corona Virus to pass. At the moment these daily programs cover 223 different topics with each topic having two programs.
We were in Nicaragua for 18 years until civil conflict broke out nation-wide, April 18th, 2018. At that point we moved across the border into Costa Rica. It is yet to be seen that which God has in store for us but it is reasonable to think that it will just be more of the same.
There are some guiding Biblical principles, which direct the administration of our calling. The first being that no money will be invested in renting a place to meet until there are born again baptized believers. If there is no such response to the preaching of the gospel, we move on. The ministry efforts must be made everywhere but specifically where Christ is not named or other churches of like faith and order are established. New missions or churches should be started with a goal of new converts and not members from other churches. Also, we are church, local congregation, sent missionaries which in our case is the Midway Baptist Church of McKinney, Texas, Ed Neal being the pastor.