Brian and Michel Castro are Missionary Associates to Chile under Missionaries Josh and Mayra Renfro. They are currently attending CINCEL language school in Costa Rica and expect to be on the field in Santiago, Chile in 2016.
Every morning, Brian and I wake up and make ourselves a good ol’ cup of joe before facing a full day of language school at CINCEL (Center for Cultural Research and Language Studies in Costa Rica. Usually, about four hours later, we are back in our apartment ready to face an afternoon full of homework, but most importantly, one full of fellowship. Not too long ago we were living a comfortable life in the states; we could have never imagined the way our days would look at this moment, and that God would soon lead us on a journey to the mission field.
About two years ago, Brian and I started asking ourselves what the next step in our lives was going to be. Both of us, graduates from Sam Houston State, had no debt, no mortgage, no car note — nothing to set us back from following Jesus. We were “free.” We never started careers because we knew that one day we were going to be missionaries. We simply just did not know when or where.
After our first year of marriage we started praying that God would show us a country. It became a long drawn out answer. It seemed, at first, as if the Lord did not want to tell us. We asked, and sought, and kept knocking, but the door never opened. Meanwhile, we got involved in our local church; we were active members of the community. Yet, there was a bitterness in me that was starting to settle in. I was bitter because the Lord hadn’t released us into missions. I started comparing my life to others. I felt as if I was living in the middle of nowhere, and my peers were either starting careers or starting families.
"We don’t want to be guided emotionally. We want to be guided only by You."
Despite my feelings, I kept on pushing through in my quiet times with God. One day in prayer, what seemed like the hundredth time asking Jesus, I really felt like it was the first time I had laid it all down at his feet. Together, Brian and I got on our knees and we prayed out loud “Lord, forgive us if you have already answered and we did not hear. But now, we come to you, asking that you confirm in our hearts the country you want us to go to. We DO NOT want to go with feelings. We don’t want to be guided emotionally. We want to be guided only by You. So, Lord, give us a sign so obvious, that it would be stupid for us not to see it." We prayed that seriously, word for word.
About a week later, I was at church and I felt the Lord direct me towards a specific location on our church campus. As soon as I got to that location a Chilean student met me at that exact moment. It did not take long after that encounter to know that we had just received the answer to the question we had prayed two years prior. Jovana, the Chilean student, had applied to become a nanny through a student exchange program; this was the reason she found herself in Houston, Texas. Her host family had been very patient with her at first, but about a week after we met her, her host “mom” kicked her out of their house. She did not understand American culture and if we would have not been in her path, she would have been left out on the streets to fend for herself. This was truly a divine appointment. While she was waiting to be relocated through this program, she lived with us. During this time she was able to tell us about campus life in Chile, and what university students were like. She told us, “My people will listen to you. They just need someone to go tell them about Jesus.” She cooked for us, and served us, and here we were thinking we were serving her!
Her culture invaded our home, and there was not a doubt that the Lord was answering us. He was giving us a burden; he was giving us a call.
Fast forward a year and a half and we are on a plane to Costa Rica to start language school. After a year of itineration we realized why the Lord had not answered our prayers so quickly. You see, most of our support (about 90%) came from our home church. This is seriously uncommon, and the Lord was able to open up our spiritual eyes so we could see what He was really doing throughout those two years of silence. The Lord was not only building up our financial team, but also our prayer team.
During those two years we were active in church, leading life groups and volunteering on a weekly basis. We were not pew sitters; we were intentional in serving Jesus at Faith Assembly (our church). We were known at Faith as “The Castros,” a couple who served behind the scenes. In these two years of “silence” the Lord was preparing the hearts of our fellow church members to be part of our financial and prayer team. They got to know our hearts by simply sitting next to us at church events, prayer gathering and small group settings. Everyone at Faith knew the Castros wanted to become missionaries and that they were praying for a country. It was not a surprise when we told them the Lord had answered, and by this time our church family was more than ready to send us. How privileged we are!
"I had no idea that when I stepped off that plane... I was going to question my every motive."
I had no idea that when I stepped off that plane from Houston to Costa Rica, I was going to miss home instantly. I was going to question my every motive. We needed those prayers more than ever. Our support team has been a breath of fresh air. CINCEL, in Spanish means, “to chisel”. This season that we find ourselves in has been just that: the Lord chiseling every part of us that needs to be refined. When director Denny Seler welcomed us the first day of class he confessed that he had the privilege to walk students through some of the most challenging and difficult times of their lives, as they adapt to a new language, culture, and a new world. CINCEL is a rock, which I find myself currently leaning on as it helps shape my will, my character, and my love to be more like Christ’s.
That same day that we arrived in San José we met our welcoming coaches, Mia and Phil Gendreau. They had been at CINCEL for one trimester already and were in charge of making sure we acclimated well upon our arrival. That night we had dinner over at their place and suddenly where there had been fears and doubts I felt complete peace. We had instant fellowship and since then we have met so many others who are going through the same season, preparing themselves to one day be on the field that God has called them to.
For us, that will be Santiago, Chile. Soon, we will preach, we will proclaim the gospel, and we will reach university students for Christ in Santiago, Chile; now, we will study, we will pray, and we will prepare ourselves to become all things for all people so that we may reach some.
Follow Brian and Michel's journey at loscastro.wordpress.com.