DTS Colombia Outreach, week 5
Tuesday, Feb. 4th, was our day off. Everyone went their own special way; some to the Old City of Cartagena, some to the mall, and after lunch the whole team went to the beach…and played in the water and built sandcastles. Highlight of the day was Sarinna’s baptism in the Caribbean Sea. After we had our fill of water, we walked down the beach and had dinner at a seaside restaurant. Yummy!
Travel day was Wednesday. We were met at the airport by Pastor Sixto, Delise, and Magdale of Christians in Action, who gave us all gifts and prayed for us. Goodbyes were exchanged with Pastor Sixto and his team, and we flew on to Bogota Fabien and Jessica, who work for Steve and Evie Bartel, with YWAM Children at Risk, picked us up. They brought us to their base housing, fed us a nice dinner, gave us an orientation and put us to bed. Steve was one of the DTS speakers during lecture phase, and what a pleasure for us to now be here in Bogota with Steve and Evie, who have devoted 25 years of their lives to the ministry in Bogota. They have taken many street children into their home and given them a family. Another fun little fact is that Cindy Meier, director of the DTS, and Steve, recently discovered they are cousins, making it extra special for her.
“The Jungle” was our destination the next day, cleaning and prepping for Saturday morning ministry with the at risk children from the inner-city. The Jungle is a center where the children can come to play in a safe environment. It is painted like a jungle, with an overhanging wooden bridge, sliding fireman’s pole, and stuffed monkeys just hanging around! Every other Saturday this room is filled with laughing children enjoying the many different play areas, which also include a rock climbing wall, putt-putt golf zone, ball pit to slide into, table games, and a large doll house filled with toys, among other fun stations for the children. They also give the kids breakfast. There is an area nearby The Jungle, called the Tolerance Zone, where everything goes….prostitution, drugs, crime, etc., all of which are sanctioned by the local government. The Jungle is within walking distance of the Tolerance Zone. These children are exposed to this depraved lifestyle, seeing everything, as Steve told us. In the ministry bus, we all rode through the Tolerance Zone so we could see where these kids come from. Coming to the Jungle gives them opportunity to forget these hardships and just have fun, followed by a time of spiritual imput. When finished with the cleaning we drove about 45 minutes up the mountain, completely outside the city, to “The Farm”, Steve and Evie’s house where they live and raise the kids they have brought into their home. It is quite a facility, including a playground with treehouses, another ministry house, and a well-house. Steve gave everyone a tour and walked up the mountain to show them the new home that is being built. All this was topped off with a treat of homemade brownies and coffee or tea before we drove home.
Early to rise Friday morning meant 4 AM, and a four hour drive to Agua de Dios-Water of God, stopping along the way in La Mesa for breakfast. We were met by Mother Superior at the senior citizen’s home. She revealed to us the expected, that many of the people we would visit very rarely had visitors and expounded on the fact that when we touched their hands we were touching the hands of Jesus. The team sang a couple songs and did some skits, to the delight of the seniors in residence and the Mother Superior. Destination number two was the men’s home for lepers. Our time began with a tour of the very nice facility by the sister who directed the home. We greeted all the men, touching them, and sharing the love of the Lord; they were very happy to have us there. Then the team performed their skits and shared testimonies. Stop number three was the women’s lepers’ facility, which was larger and even nicer than the men’s. Again, a tour of the facility was given, followed by meeting and greeting the ladies, after which we shared our skits and testimonies for the third time this day, with different team members participating. The people were very receptive and invited Steve to return with future teams, which was exactly what he was hoping for. This was followed by our fourth destination for the day, a surprise visit to The Sisters of the Sacred Heart Convent. The nuns greeted us with smiles and asked us to perform a few skits and share a testimony. We did so, much to the Sisters’ delight. In return, they sang two songs for us and also spoke to our girls about joining their convent! None of our young ladies have yet chosen to make that commitment… Steve impressed on us how rare it was for the Catholics to invite a group with different beliefs, but yet they had received us with open arms, knowing that our common ground of loving God overruled religious differences. Our longest day ever ended with four hour drive to return home, getting us back at 10:30 PM., but with satisfaction that we had done the work Jesus had asked us to do. We had been His hands and feet for the elderly, the lepers, and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, visited the lonely and rejected, seen them joyfully receive God’s love, and observed religious barriers broken.
On Saturday we left the house at 7:15 AM for The Jungle. Doors opened to the children for breakfast and play at 9:00 AM. Intercessory prayer was scheduled and occurred the whole time of ministry, Steve drove to a different neighborhood, picking up two bus- loads of children. A high school team from Canada was there to help with the children, as well as a handful of Colombian young people. Manning the different stations and playing with the children was definitely a highlight. What a treat to see the ministry to the children at work firsthand. Our team was responsible for the spiritual input and received much laughter and shouts of “otra” meaning another, after each drama. They were a wonderful audience, and we received immense joy in turn.
J.D.’s birthday was Sunday! We followed through with his family tradition by giving J.D. breakfast in bed. We attended In His Presence Church which is a 10,000 member church; people line up outside for every one of the five Sunday services and numerous other services. The building holds 3,500 people. In a nearby park, we enjoyed our sack lunch. Steve then drove us through the older part of town, stopping at various points of interest. Kathryn had made delicious birthday cake, which we enjoyed after dinner! This was followed by story telling time, where Cindy and Fritz shared their love story and everyone was also deeply moved by Fabien’s testimony. He is one of the children who was rescued from the streets and adopted by Steve. His childhood was one of physical abuse and hunger that drove him to live in the streets and sniff glue to curb his hunger. His first contact with the ministry was when they would come to the streets with hot chocolate and bread, which was like gold for him. It was then he first felt loved. Fabien is now 26 years old, serving alongside Steve in the ministry, loving and helping children in similar circumstances.
Gleanings’ DTS shared with Steve’s “Formando Vidas” (the ministry name in Spanish) staff at their weekly meeting Monday, regarding Gleanings and some experiences on outreach. The DTS team also performed skits and led worship; Fritz and Cindy shared of their Haiti ministry. After lunch the Salt Mine Cathedral was toured. Impressive underground carvings, which included the15 stations of the cross, were viewed. Some students also braved the climbing wall, which was shaped like an Amazon jungle tree. The evening was spent sharing favorite outreach experiences and DTS life-changing moments before retiring and saying goodbye to the Meier family, who returned home Tuesday.
Prayer Requests: J.D. is still vomiting and having periodic diarrhea. We are trying to get him medical care soon, since this has been reoccurring for two weeks. Bob is having altitude sickness, which causes pain in his lungs, tingling, and shortness of breath. He has actually just gotten some medication, but please pray for them both. Also, we have two weeks of ministry left and want to finish strong.
DTS Outreach Team 2014