Outreach Week 4
Greetings from sunny, sandy Cartagena!
It is difficult to summarize all that happens in one week here. One day holds so much, and nothing is completely predictable. Morning of the 26th, Sunday, our team split into two groups going to different churches; Sheri in one group as the assigned preacher, and J.D. in the other. God gave both students the words to say, and the overall connection with the believers was amazing, despite the language barrier. Thankfully, God has always provided at least one translator. After an extended morning of worship and teaching, the team had a meeting and decided the best thing to do next would be go to the mall and get ice cream. This mission was promptly performed while others on our team went to release their energy in a game of soccer with some enthusiastic Colombian friends. Fritz, Bryan, and J.D. participated in the game and also witnessed to 9 boys who gave their lives to Christ! Pray that fellow Christians come alongside the boys and encourage them in their kingdom calling. Monday began with the sweet realization: OFF DAY! Like horses released to pasture we bounded for the rolling ocean surf….well, a few preferred to relax in the shade, but the majority were body-surfing and receiving generous anointing’s of salt. Cierra was especially anointed: she was baptized right in the Caribbean, Jim and Kathryn helping dunk her. Then she was baptized again, because some of us weren’t watching the first time. Cierra loves the ocean, so it was a very special time. After returning to the base, half the team went on a journey to the Old Fort, the Bastille of San Felipe. With an epic labyrinth of stone corridors and tunnels serving as passageways and mysterious entry-ways, the fort set our imaginations racing and gave rise to multiple photos. Thereafter, the Meier family connected with Ernie from the Jimmy Hugh’s ministry, the same Ernie they knew from an outreach to Honduras years ago.
Tuesday began with intercession, followed by meeting with Christians In Action to evangelize door to door. Although this type of evangelism proves awkward and even offensive in the US, in Colombia it is well received. Families feel special that complete strangers care about their spiritual condition, and several mothers asked for prayer right away. The area we visited was so friendly and receptive, Christians In Action is planting a church on site and also a place where missionaries can be trained and housed. Many people opened themselves to Jesus that day, and the “vibe” in the neighborhood was good, even as twilight fell. Wednesday began with a trip to the women’s prison. What an audience! Definitely happy to see us and ready to laugh, even during the more serious parts of our skits. Although time was short at the end, they were insisting we pray for them, and so of course we stayed and prayed, but the only translator present knew very little English, so it became more of a “Korean style” prayer time. Pray for freedom for these women, emotionally and physically. They want to be free of their past; they want liberty. There is such a spirit of slavery in Cartagena, but Jesus releases the captives! That evening, J.D. preached at the main Christians in Action church, which is very large, spacious and open-air.
The next morning, Thursday, we regrouped for a team meeting and prayed in small groups. In the afternoon, we went evangelizing in the town of Boquilla, where the “crusade” would be taking place the rest of the week. There was one guy who looked so broken-hearted, and our translator Sergio said he could sense he needed prayer for a bad relationship. So many times we meet people who are looking downcast and confused, and after just calling on Jesus for them, we leave them with smiles on their faces. Pray they would take initiative themselves and know the power of Jesus resides in their own souls, and they have just as much authority as the missionaries who come. There was a service hosted by Christian In Action, worship and skits. The children in Boquilla look very African, and have vibrant, brilliant personalities. It was a blessing getting to know them.
Friday morning we went to a children’s school, expecting to do skits and songs for a little group of eighteen well behaved children. Yet when we arrived…. down the steep steps of the school came small armies of little children, ages 6–12, emerging from tiny school rooms where the teachers did their best to keep a semblance of order. “We only have 45 minutes with the kids” turned into “Oh, we have an hour and a half…let’s do more skits.” So we did! When we had exhausted our skits and songs, we turned to Bob and Sheri, who had been in the background faithfully inflating balloons. One by one we fashioned masterpieces (ok, dogs and swords) which bent but did not break (though some of them did pop loudly and scare the children momentarily…) and served the children well as temporary fascinations.. As the school was a Christian one, all the kids were nodding their heads and seemingly agreeing with the Gospel. Pray for sincerity of heart and true faithfulness to the Gospel as these children grow with relatively no needs being unmet, unlike the jungle kids of Zaragoza. The DTS was treated that afternoon to a teaching by Bill Johnson, via Fritz’s iPod. Bill was speaking about handling disappointment and how to react when God doesn’t answer a prayer for healing. He reminded us that God does not bring disease on people, but disease is caused by evil, and God will bring justice on evil. Just because somebody is not healed, doesn’t mean God is testing you or willingly hurting you. He hates the disease just as much as we do, and it is never His will for evil to win. When disappointment strikes, we tend to strike out at God, or let ourselves be offended because it doesn’t look like He is taking action. The truth is, God is working behind the scenes, doing business in the heavenly places, and one day all the evil and sickness of this world will be avenged. Meanwhile, we have authority in this age to stand against all evil in Jesus, and never give up our trust and faith in His word and His kingdom and His beautiful love for us.
Friday night, the base here had guest speakers to dedicate their newest establishment, the recently remodeled DTS room in the Casa de las Naciones base where the girls and the Meier family stay. Their worship team sang “Oceans” which is impressive and thoughtful, since our whole team loves that song and….it’s in English! Needless to say the song continued playing in our minds as we crossed the ocean in little motor boats the next morning to access Tierra Bomba, an island populated by very impoverished Colombians. The wild boat ride transported all of our team and packages of apples and cookies safely to the garbage-strewn shoreline of Tierra Bomba. Traveling with us was a group of non-denominational Christians who have been helping the islanders for a number of years. Because of their persistent love they have been able to witness the island kids blossom in their personalities. The girls performed a well-choreographed worship song and sang for us with beautiful harmony. That night, we had our final crusade meeting back in Boquilla. It was hard leaving the kids, but they will be in our hearts forever. One day we’ll see them again, even if it’s not till the new kingdom comes.
Sunday morning was relaxing, as we arrived an hour late (thank you for teaching us patience, tourist bus!) to the Christians In Action main service where Fritz shared with us about the soil of our hearts being ready to receive what God has for us. Evidently his message was well-translated, because there were several “amens” and applause. Thank You God for speaking to all our hearts through Fritz that day! After that we debriefed back at the “Yellow House”, where the boys stay and where the main meals are served. This meeting was long but necessary, checking the pulse of the team’s unity as the leaders reminded us all to remain open with our own thoughts, ideas, worries, or unsolved confusions/offenses/attitudes. Then we had some time before…..Super Bowl! One of the families here graciously opened their home for a group of “gringos” to litter their floor with chips and their minds with USA football and commercials. Guess you could draw analogies between playing football and fighting the good fight as a team, but I desist.
Monday found us on a bus, of all things, trekking to Turbana, out in the country and quite beautiful. Although the vibe there is healthier than most places, there is still a general spirit of poverty. People think about their own needs, and do not often look to needs of others or take good stewardship of their animals. However, the whole day was a blessing. We were invited to a small farm by a couple who didn’t even know us, but fed us generously. Some of us walked through the forest and fellowshipped with each other, hanging out, telling jokes and sharing stories. By the end of the day, when the bus finally came at 7:00, we were ready to go home and fall fast asleep. There are few things better, the end of a full day that has been totally unpredictable and taken you places you would never have expected.
Every day is an adventure, and every person, a masterpiece. We are so blessed to be here and thankful for all prayers and encouragement! If God is for us, who can be against us? Next time you here from us we will be in Bogota…
Much love in Christ.
Written by Lizzie for the Gleanings’ DTS outreach team