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By: Staff Writer on: January 13, 2015
Story Type: History    

The First Year (from 1892)

Dallas, TX, Nov. 14, 1891. The Central American Mission closed on the 14th of November, the first year of its existence. It was organized in the simplest manner consistent with the principle of "providing things honest in the sight of all men," by four Christian men who had been led through united prayer to see alike the duty of doing something for the introduction of the Gospel into Central America. These four Christian men simply organized themselves into a Provisional Council of the Mission by appointing Mr. Luther Rees, chairman, Mr. Ernest M. Powell, treasurer, Rev. C. I. Scofield, secretary. The other member of the Council being Mr. William A. Nason.

In January Mr. and Mrs. W. W. McConnell, of Minnesota, were accepted as missionaries and in February Mr. Powell, of the Council, and Mr. McConnell departed for Costa Rica, in which Republic it had seemed to be the manifest mind of the Lord that the work should begin. It was found that Costa Rica constituted a mission field at once needy and interesting. With a population of about 280,000 souls, mostly gathered upon the high central plateau, where, in a region of exceptional beauty and fertility, mission work may be vigorously prosecuted the entire year by persons from the temperate zone, it was ascertained that, with the exception of a missionary at Port Limon, supported by the Baptists of Jamaica, no Gospel testimony whatever was to be found. In San Jose, the capital, was found a small Protestant chapel, but neither an organized church nor a minister.

Here the brethren were most kindly welcomed by the English-speaking residents, and, before Mr. Powell's departure, a Sunday school was organized, which has since, it is believed, accomplished much good. Mr. McConnell was left at San Jose, where Mrs. McConnell subsequently joined him with their three sweet little boys.

In the following pages will be found copious extracts from the correspondence of these devoted servants of God. We bespeak for them a careful reading. As will be seen, Mr. McConnell has made a most important tour of exploration among a tribe of Indians who are the descendants of the simple, hospitable people who received the Spanish discoverers with unbounded kindness — to be repaid by outrage and murder. Is it not a reproach upon the great church of Christ in the United States that, with unbounded resources, and with missions in the uttermost parts of the earth, she has never sent to these people on her own continent the two or three missionaries whom they need?

The Council hopes to hear that this need has at last been laid upon the hearts of some of God's dear children, who will be willing, for His sake, to go to these Indians. Such are warned that the service will prove one of danger and difficulty. While the Indians are perfectly friendly, they live in the low "hot lands'' along the Caribbean, where fevers are frequent, even among the natives, and in forests infested with deadly serpents. It is believed that they may be reached by evangelizing tours, without absolutely permanent residence, but the service will still be perilous.

The financial statement will be found on the last page. It will be remembered by the early friends of the Mission that the financial policy has been, from the first, a very simple one-to go to God in prayer for all wants, to solicit no gifts, take no collections, and to receive such sums as are voluntarily contributed by the children of God.

With hearts full of joy the testimony is gratefully borne that no need has ever been left unsupplied by our Father; that without solicitation of any kind gifts have found their way into our treasury to meet beforehand every want, and that no part of our varied service for Christ has been so restful, so free from anxiety, as our work in the Central American Mission. It has been no small part of the joy of this service that it has brought us into so wide a fellowship among the Lord's dear stewards in our own land and beyond our borders.

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