A mango fell, bounced of the roof of the Sunday School classroom, and rolled across my toes as I stood in the courtyard of Los Olivos Church in Barranquilla, Colombia waiting for the Bible conference to begin. The moment the mango fell, Alfonzo picked it up and ran off to grab a knife to cut some for everyone. As we stood together eating mangos in the church courtyard, I was struck by the hospitality of the church and the familial bond between believers. Even without speaking the same language or sharing the same culture, we found unity around Christ and the desire to tell others about him.
In early July, I traveled with a group of eleven people from Tenth to Los Olivos. We went with many goals in mind: building a patio, facilitating a Vacation Bible School, and running a theological conference on the book of Titus. However, at the root of these goals was the desire to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ in their service of the Lord. At the end of Titus 3, Paul reminds Titus to speed other evangelists on their way, seeing that they lack nothing. While visiting Los Olivos, we had the opportunity to speed their congregation on their way toward reaching more people in Barranquilla and they sped us along by feeding us, welcoming us, and making sure we had what we needed when far away from home.
Los Olivos is a small church in a poor neighborhood waiting for their sanctuary to be completed. In the meantime, they reach out to the community, offering many opportunities for neighbors to enter their space (a courtyard surrounded by classrooms with the walls of a new sanctuary building jutting out into the center). The children learn about God and their parents sit together and talk with various members of the church. They offer a safe refuge to gather and play as well as Sunday services and adult bible studies. Carlos Berrio, whose name you will see on the 2024 budget as a new Global Outreach Partner, is the pastor of Los Olivos. He serves faithfully, caring for the congregation and building connections in the neighborhood. It was a privilege to get to know him, his wife Iveth, and their daughter, Isabella, by working and fellowshipping together.
During our visit, we had three workdays and three days for planning and fellowship with the members of Los Olivos and their local sister churches. On our workdays, we held two children’s programs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. These programs were primarily run by members of Los Olivos, though we provided a structure for them to follow. The women who work with the children regularly were able to have deep gospel-centered conversations with the 120 children who attended. The construction team finished their building project in half the time we expected and spent time doing building maintenance and repairing the playground Tenth members built on a trip in 2011. In the evenings, Pastor Enrique, Pastor John, and Joe Park shared from the book of Titus and team members gave their testimonies. We saw church members both encouraged and convicted by these talks. Our days of fellowship were special, filled with time to sit and hear the stories – celebrating growth and praying for ongoing needs.
Throughout this trip I was encouraged by the faithfulness of God to his people. At Los Olivos, he is raising and sustaining faithful people to carry out his work in the neighborhood and providing for their growing financial needs. He provided our team with the energy and health we needed to do the work and gave our speakers the words to say. It is he who sustains this work and provides for the churches’ needs both in Colombia and Philadelphia.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Julia K.. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org