The Colombia short-term missions team returned to Philadelphia on June 29. Thank you for your prayers and support! It was an excellent time of service and fellowship with our Colombian brothers and sisters. In short, we had a plan and accomplished it well. We completed our goals and more and returned to the States knowing that our labor in the Lord was not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
There is so much that could be written but let me summarize by way of sharing some of the reflections of our team members and of our Colombian friends.
“I will always remember the light of God on the children’s faces, seeing really engaged eyes at the Bible Conference, and hearing great testimonies of faith.”a team member
“The Colombians were rejuvenated in their faith”a team member
The smiles of the children were priceless during the children’s program that we conducted during the day. Our children’s program coordinator and her team did an excellent job as they led the program twice each day, one group of children in the morning and one group in the afternoon. There were up to one hundred children, and they were happily engaged and excited to learn the Bible through teaching and songs. There were also many activities such as making kites, playing soccer, and making crafts to take home. They even lined up in two rows wearing Colombian colors and waving Colombian flags to welcome us on the first day! That was a precious moment for the team. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).
In the evenings, we held a Bible conference at another church. We preached through the book of Colossians and were encouraged by the engagement of the church members. After the preaching, some of our team members gave personal testimonies of how they became Christians and how God is working in them today. One of the major themes and testimonies that emerged was that of forgiveness – how God can reconcile broken relationships, especially family relationships, through forgiveness. Our team also focused on Colossians for our devotionals every morning before we started work.
We attended worship and our team members preached on Sunday morning in both churches we served. It was wonderful to worship in another cultural context. The churches in Colombia are also dealing with the aftereffects of COVID-19 and so it was an honor to somehow participate in their rejuvenation (Colossians 1:6).
“We did a lot more building work than expected”a team member
In addition to the children’s program, we did a lot of maintenance and improvement work on the church structures and rooms. Every day was quite humid, and we worked outside all day long, but that did not stop our progress! We did more than expected – painting most of the classrooms, repairing ceilings, installing netting to keep out the cats and birds, buying new fans and parts, and more.
But the most exciting development was that the local architect accepted our design plan for the new sanctuary building which they will start building immediately! This building is the result of the giving to our ESO (Easter Sacrificial Offering) this year. An expert builder on our team, who has built over 100 churches, produced a building plan, and we wondered if the local architect would push back on it. Fortunately, she liked it! Of course, there will be issues that come up in any building project, but pray that the building will be built well and be a light to this needy community.
“We felt the love of our brothers and sisters from the States.”a Colombian sister, with tears
“I felt like I’ve known you all my life.”a Colombian pastor to one of our team members
“I felt like I learned more from them than the other way around”a team member
There is great unity among believers from all the nations despite coming from different cultural backgrounds. This only proves Colossians 4, where we see a wide diversity of people among the Apostle Paul’s friends. Fellowship with other believers is always sweet, especially with those from differing backgrounds because it proves the supremacy of Christ (the main theme of Colossians) above all other things. Of course, we do not know the depth of the problems and challenges that Colombians face every day, but for a time, the love of God was mutually expressed in word and deed. Overall, it was a mission accomplished and the great commission was fulfilled just a little more. Hopefully, we will be able to go again next summer. Thank you for standing with us, Tenth. God answered prayers indeed.
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