I love this picture because I believe it captures the absolute essence of who Eli is. Prior to leaving on our mission trip to Nicaragua, I was warned that this would happen, but I really didn’t get it.

I spent several days with two pastors who were father and son. The son was David (in Spanish speaking countries it is pronounced with a short “a” and the “i” is pronounced as a long “e” sound (Dah veed)) and the father is Eli (again the “E” is a short “e” and the “i” is pronounced as a long “e” so it’s pronounced “Ehlee”)).

I’ll write another perspective piece on David later, but Eli was clearly the kind of person that makes me question my Christianity.

From my perspective, Eli is three things. First, he is a single threaded guy with a laser focus. Second, he is a guy with a clear picture of how some people are going to heaven and the rest are lost forever. Third, he’s the perfect picture of what the Bible is talking about when it says “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Single Threaded: My impression of Pastor Eli is that one and only one thing matters to him. That thing is serving the Lord. He was the key component in our outreach to the Cabecar tribe and to the Nicaraguan pastors/churches. He raised a son and taught him that there is nothing more important than service to God and as a result his son also became a hard working Pastor. He is a leader in the bible church organization of Costa Rica and he is busy bringing the plan of salvation to Cuba. He is focused on one and only one thing. Always focused.

Clear Picture: This is probably the most interesting part of his personality. Before we left on the trips that included Eli we were warned that we would lose Eli from time to time and when that happened you had to back track. I was told we would find him preaching the plan of salvation to someone somewhere and there was no way to predict when or where it would happen. This was not the first time it happened in the short time I spent with Eli and David but it was the only time I caught a picture. In this particular situation we had walked through a motorcycle repair shop. We got to the other side of the business where parts were sold, and walked out the door to get back into our van when someone noticed Eli was gone. We back tracked and this is what we found.

For me, the amazing thing wasn’t that he was willing to share the plan of salvation as much as he did it so well that he shut this business down. The picture isn’t staged. It is obvious that the mechanics are totally engaged. It is obvious that Eli is intense and focused. The smiles and direction of stares make it obvious that his lesson is valuable.

Eli has a clear picture of where these motorcycle mechanics will end up if they don’t understand God’s plan of salvation and he is clear on the priority of what he is doing against the importance of our schedule.

Well Done: In the first paragraph I told you that I was warned, but I really didn’t get it. Now I do. Jesus is the perfect example of what we should strive for and how we should behave, but I think God gives us other examples too. Jesus is the perfect priceless painting, but a copy that is well done can provide an example that, although not perfect, can keep us aware of what our Lord and Savior is looking for.

As I said, there are times when you meet someone who makes you question your Christianity. For me as a copy of Jesus, the copy is a bit too fuzzy. Eli is one of those “well done” examples and if I can manage to surround myself with God’s good and faithful servants (like this one) I can’t help but grow in the right direction.