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Costa Rica’s first missionary spends summer at girls’ camps

NEWPORT, Tenn. (BP)–Costa Rica’s first foreign missionary is getting some “OJT” (on the job training) this summer in the United States.
Anne Marie Pinnock, a former fashion model born in English-speaking Limon on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, has been serving as a camp missionary for Girls in Action camps at Linden and Carson, Tenn., this summer.
When Pinnock finishes her “overseas” assignment in the States, she will return to Costa Rica to be commissioned by Costa Rica Baptists as a missionary.
Pinnock originally was scheduled to serve in Guyana on the northern coast of South America, but plans have changed and she is waiting on a new assignment, either in Peru, Panama or the Dominican Republic.
Wherever she ends up, Pinnock will work with Brazilian missionaries. The Brazilian Baptist mission board will pay one-third of her support, with the remainder from Costa Rican Baptists and her home church, San Pedro Baptist.
Pinnock’s move to the mission field was not her first career choice. “When I finished high school, I looked for a career that would bring me a lot of money and make me famous,” she said. Pinnock became a model, but found that fame and money did not fill the vacuum in her heart. It was then that she turned to Christ.
Ironically, Pinnock, who is working with Tennessee WMU’s GA camps this summer, began her own spiritual pilgrimage in a Christian camp when she was 21 years old.
A friend invited her to camp. “I was searching for something that would fill the emptiness in my heart,” she recalled.
“I saw something different in the people I met at the camp. In some way I knew what they had was what I needed — what was lacking in my life. So I accepted the Lord in a short time” and then became a member of San Pedro church in Costa Rica.
“I began to serve God with what I knew how to do — dust the pews and help with the children in the nursery. Then the Lord began to lead me to serve him in other ways. I didn’t know how to do anything — like sing or play an instrument — much less lead a Bible study.
“But I heard a call in my heart and I couldn’t resist it. I had to answer, ‘Here am I, send me.'”
Pinnock learned to play the guitar and piano and to sing. She felt the need for more preparation so she attended the Baptist Theological Seminary in Costa Rica.
And the Lord began to call Pinnock as a missionary. “I prayed that God would give me the opportunity to serve him in other countries and take his Word to other people in the world who do not know him so they also could enjoy the peace and love I found in him,” she said.
Pinnock prayed for nine years after she felt God calling her to be a missionary. “I know that God is faithful, and if he called me for something, he would open the door one day,” she said.
Pinnock’s persistence and faith paid off, and she is both excited and apprehensive about the honor of becoming Costa Rica Baptists’ first foreign missionary. “I’m excited about being the first missionary (from Costa Rica), but I also feel a great responsibility.” She hopes that her experiences will open opportunities for others who feel God’s call to missions service.
The experience she has gained working with Tennessee GA camps this summer will be helpful on the mission field, she affirmed.
“It’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot,” Pinnock said, noting that “the Lord opened the door for me to come to Tennessee.”
Last year she met Katharine Bryan, retired Tennessee WMU executive director, and Carol Richardson, Tennessee WMU president, while they were in Costa Rica.
The Tennessee WMU leaders told her they thought it would be good for her to work in the state this summer to share about Costa Rica since Tennessee Baptists have entered into partnership with that country, Pinnock recounted.
Her experiences at GA camps this summer have given her insight on new ways to do things in a camp setting, Pinnock said. Most of all, working in a different culture this summer will benefit her on the mission field, she said.
“I’ve learned to just be yourself. In a new country and different culture, you need to be yourself. If you be yourself and let God use you the way he wants to, it will be OK,” she said.
Pinnock has done well during her “foreign missions” stint in Tennessee, related Vickie Anderson, who coordinates the GA camps for Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union.
“It’s been a different experience for us to have someone from a different country on our staff. Anne Marie has shared firsthand knowledge about Costa Rica and the girls have responded well to her.”

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