Meet (And Support) Dr. John Costa on Giving Tuesday


Next Tuesday, November 28th, 2023, is Giving Tuesday. It’s a time of dedicated giving toward projects that need special attention. You might be wondering why we need to set aside a day for giving. Isn’t any day as good as any other? That’s true, and sure enough, thoughtful and generous supporters are giving and contributing to needs, every day, all year long. We are tremendously grateful for those all across our body who faithfully give to support our Global Reach fields. But Giving Tuesday is a time for items that are often overlooked.

For instance, the small daily needs of our National Field Leaders like Dr. John Theotonius Costa of our Bangladesh field. You can just call him Dr. John.

He works at the Khanjanpur Mission Health Service Eye Hospital, performing cataract surgery, and countless other eye operations. Dr. John is the head doctor at the Eye Hospital but works with numerous doctors and nurses who frequently take their work out to remote villages to do eye camps at no cost. They do incredible work on a shoestring budget, and they’ve been doing it for many years now.

I recently had the pleasure of spending about 2 weeks with Dr. John alongside many of our pastors and medical practitioners in Bangladesh. No doubt, if you’re reading this then you probably read about the their 125 celebration a couple weeks ago, and the longer eNews we published about the incredible work at Bogura (not enough people read this one, by the way.)

While in Dinajpur, listening to the speakers at the 125th Celebration, there was a large focus on history, and Dr. John took about 10 minutes to tell his story of how he came to faith. Keep in mind, we had spent a long day listening to speakers. With the high humidity of Bangladesh, and the gentle caressing of the overhead fans, most of us were past the point of tired, and were actively fighting to pay attention. But when Dr. John began to tell his story, we were immediately captured. I don’t know if the Bengali pastors had heard the story before, but none of the Americans in the room had, and when it was over, we were in disbelief. So let me share just a few pieces of it.

Dr. John framed his story as a set of miracles of God preserving his life, the first of which being his birth.

First, his mother was experiencing issues in her stomach and local doctors told her that she had a tumor in her abdomen. They told her that she needed an operation to remove it. Thankfully, another nurse was there, a Christian woman who told Dr. John’s mother, “Don’t do the operation… just wait 9 months.” At which point most of us were already smiling. Dr. John’s mother and father prayed together and ultimately decided to trust the nurse over the doctors, and 9 months later John Theotonius Costa was born, and his parents dedicated him to the Lord.

Dr. John considers this to be the first miracle of his life, a moment when a Christian woman serendipitously stepped into save John’s mother (and maybe his life too) from an altogether unnecessary surgery.  

But life wasn’t easy for John’s mother or father at that time. “We were so poor,” Dr. John told us. And being “so poor” in Bangladesh, 60 years ago, means something different than it does to most of us now. He illustrated the point.

“Later on my parents decided they would go to Pakistan, looking for a job. My mother became a nurse. And she locked me in a room without anyone and she went to her job. At that time, I was only 40 days [old]. No one was there to take care of me. She usually came [home] after 8 hours, and she cried.”

I think I had one hand covering my mouth when I listened. I couldn’t and still can’t wrap my mind around what it means to leave a 40-day old newborn baby in a room for 8 hours by themselves. Starvation, dehydration, you name it. That he survived at all seems like another miracle.

He also told us about a time when he was kidnapped at only two and a half years old from a local market. After a couple of hours, a milk man noticed that the kidnapper had a basket next to him, and something must have been strange about the basket. Perhaps small noises were coming from it, or it jostled in a conspicuous way because the milkman demanded to see what was in the basket. At this point the kidnapper simply fled. The local milkman pulled young John from the basket, saw the small cross necklace around his neck, and took him to the local catholic church. Again, providentially, the milkman used to deliver milk to John’s parents’ home, and knew them, although perhaps he did not recognize baby John. Two-and-a-half-year-old Dr. John was reunited with his parents after having been stolen for about 8 hours. Miracle number 3, if we’re keeping count.

As he was growing older, his parents raised him differently than they did his siblings. For instance, he was the only one who had to read the Bible for an hour every day if he wanted dinner. Apparently much of Dr. John’s life is like this. Whether it was at gunpoint from a fundamentalist villager who Dr. John talked down and who later became a huge supporter, or any other number of stories, harrowing moments are juxtaposed against God’s faithfulness and his parent’s insistence that his life is given to the Lord.

The man himself is sweet, relaxed, and quiet. Fully dedicated to his cause, having given his life to helping the villages, and supporting our pastors in their mission work.

Like Dr. John, the support needs of our National Field Leaders are consistent, and often quiet. They don’t usually find themselves in earth shattering emergency situations, and they don’t usually come asking for much. Instead, their faithful service is matched by faithful support, and that kind of support is typically not the most exciting thing to give toward, yet it’s perhaps the most important kind of support we can give.

All donations for Global Reach’s Giving Tuesday will be going toward supporting our National Field Leaders. In each Mission Field, whether it is Kenya, Haiti, Argentina, or Bangladesh, we have men and women who support and train local pastors, organize the churches, distribute funds, and work as our on-the-ground representatives. These National Field Leaders are not missionaries, because our missionaries in the past have done such a good job that these fields no longer require missionaries. Local people have stepped into positions of leadership, and this is something we should be thanking God for.

Yet, National Field Leaders still need support for the work they do and for the travel and costs they incur. The work Field Leaders like Dr. John do is essential to our continued efforts in these countries. They help keep us connected to the churches for which time, distance, language, and culture remain large barriers for connection. It’s because of our National Field Leaders that mission fields like Bangladesh have continued to thrive long after our missionaries were forced out during a time of intense civil strife. Likewise, there are some countries that are becoming harder and harder for us to even travel to let alone do ministry in, so it is imperative that we continue to support and raise up leaders that live and work in these countries. Now is the very best time to invest in our mission fields, particularly as these windows of opportunities close.

For all these reasons, and more, our National Field Leaders are the backbone of our international ministry fields and this Giving Tuesday we are asking for you to partner with us to help seem them flourish. Even though Giving Tuesday starts on November 28th, the giving portal is open to give to right now. Would you consider supporting our National Field Leaders like Dr. John? 

Learn More & Give

CGGC eNews—Vol. 27, No.  46

CGGC eNews

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