Missionaries planted seeds that are still bearing fruit more than two generations later as a Houston’s First member faithfully carries on the work God began in her family more than 70 years ago.
Evangelism is woven into the fabric of Naomi Alvear’s life. Missionaries shared the Gospel with her grandparents in the 1940s as they sharecropped the fields in Rosenberg, a Houston bedroom community. Nominal Catholics until the message of Christ transformed their lives, the couple planted seeds of faith and a love for missions in their family that still bear fruit today. Naomi, now 74, has shared Christ and served others throughout her life and, within the past couple of years, on short-term mission trips with Houston’s First.
“Studying the Scriptures with my mentor was a turning point in my life,” said Naomi. “I began going deeper in my faith as the Lord showed me so many things. I led my husband to the Lord.”
Naomi and her husband, Roy, who passed away in 2014, were married 53 years and raised their own five children, two nieces and a nephew. Isaiah 53 was the Scripture that fanned the flame of love for Jesus, the suffering Servant, making her an even more determined evangelist. Roy’s construction job moved them to Del Rio, Texas, near the Mexican border, which created an opportunity for Naomi to live out her faith with the locals.
Her dream was to work alongside Roy fulfilling the Great Commission, but he became ill. In 2015, Naomi took her first mission trip to Costa Rica with a group of 16, half of them children, ages 10 and older, from the Cypress Campus of Houston’s First. She took a second trip this year.
“One of the members from The Loop Campus gave me his seat in first class,” said Naomi, of her 2016 trip. “During the flight I witnessed to a young man sitting next to me from The Woodlands who had a vacation home in Costa Rica,” she said. “On the way home I sat next to the owner of a Costa Rican plantation from San Diego. I told him about Jesus, too. They both were interested in what I had to say.”
The group ministered in Guanacaste, a region in northwest Costa Rica. A debilitating bout of coughing and congestion that made Naomi barely able to speak threatened to curtail her ministry of teaching and singing to the children of the village church. But once they arrived, her vocal problems cleared.
“We were allowed to go into the public schools,” said Naomi. “We told the kids about Jesus, and the teacher even asked us questions.”
Naomi was surprised to learn that the children she taught remembered Bible stories from the previous year. She shared Jesus with painters working outside the school about Jesus; she witnessed to young men and boys who stopped to pick up mangoes that had fallen to the ground; and she taught children new Bible lessons, sang songs, served snacks and fell in love with the people all over again.
“Naomi was in on the action, building relationships and boldly proclaiming the Gospel,” said Erin Ruddle, Children’s Ministry Director at the Cypress Campus and staff liaison on the Costa Rica trip. “She was so unassuming, talking and praying with maids, groundskeepers, painters and children — and they were coming to the Lord.”
Once Naomi returned to her home in Waller, the more than 150 children in three small Costa Rican village churches would not leave her mind. They had no toys — not even balls — nor would they have Christmas dinner. She made a plan.
Her four-car garage needed a good cleaning out, so Naomi enlisted a team from Daily Light, her Life Bible Study at the Cypress Campus, for help in holding a garage sale to raise money for the churches in Guanacaste. The class took up an offering of $350 then they went to work preparing for the garage sale.
“Men from the church brought five trucks to transport heavy furniture and clothing donated by a lady from another church,” said Naomi. “Our team gathered, sorted and priced items. I even put an ad in the local paper to advertise our three-day garage sale.” When the sale was done, the team had raised a total of $2,400.
Naomi longs to return to Costa Rica very soon, and she may just be able to find a way before next year’s church-sponsored trip. “My time there was a like a dream come true,” she said. “My heart is with those little kids in Costa Rica.”