They told us that we are not a religion,
just followers of Christ.
– Herman Alvarez
One of our team members this week, Jae, loves to say: “See my God work!” To be fair she says it for just about anything – she says it when her roommates find her “long lost” brush or she says it when she’s simply joyously sharing a highlight from her day serving. This morning we all got a chance to say – “Wow! See my God work!”
Today (Monday) we were scheduled to spend the day at Buena Semilla Daycare Center. The plan was for us to serve the youth in the morning, and then we had a museum trip scheduled for the afternoon. However, plans don’t always work out. So when Buena Semilla canceled us, we needed new plans. Sensing this coming a day or two earlier, Zach was quick to find us a contingency; we would spend today at Hogar de Paz (Prado) and then our afternoon would be spent at FormaVida for their Oasis program.
So this morning, we hopped on the bus, and headed to our third Hogar De Paz meeting site. We knew this one was in a church, and in a neighborhood that was not at all distressed – unlike the first two Hogar de Paz locations we served at. As we got closer to the church, Zach pointed out that he was fairly sure that we were in the same neighborhood as the Brethren in Christ church, here in Bogota. Next came our bus driver thinking he was given the wrong address. Unsure, we called Marta Velasco (who runs the Hogar de Paz centers we’ve previously served at), and she was able to direct us around a block or two before finding her at Hogar de Paz.
Stepping off the bus, all we got from Zach was a maybe this is the Brethren in Christ church here in Bogota. He wasn’t sure because he hadn’t been to this church in a year and a half, and he noticed many new changes. So we both went around to the main entrance and voila: we saw that the name of the church was Igelsia Hermandad en Cristo. It turns out that the third Hogar de Paz center has partnered with the Brtehren in Christ church (Iglesia Hermandad en Cristo). It really is an unbelievable feeling to see people the world over, doing kingdom work. We have been here for eight days, and based on earlier concrete plans we were not supposed to see and connect with Iglesia Hermandad en Crist. But, “See my God work!”
Inside the church, we got a presentation on the ministry of Hogar de Paz at each of their unique locations. We also met Señor Herman Alvarez who’s a member of la Igelsia Hermandad en Cristo; he was then able to give us a brief history of this Brethren in Christ church, share some of our mutual connections (Nancy Payne and Curtis Book), and then give us a rundown of the plans for the day. We then got to meet the Senior Pastor, Santiago Espitia, and we were blessed to spend some time connecting with him a little bit.
Our team got split into four groups. One group went to pass out flyers in the neighborhood. One group stayed to play with kids. One group spent the morning crafting decorative pieces for the center and all the classrooms. And the last group focused on cleaning in and around the building. All in all it was a great morning made even better by the chance to meet, connect with, and serve the youth of Hogar de Paz, but also our own Brethren in Christ kin.
In the afternoon, we trekked to go and serve at FormaVida. Trek is the operative word because we were so high up the crowded mountain that we had to park our bus then be escorted up the mountain by special vehicles. And we learned in driving up the mountain that our drivers were very good at their jobs – it is no easy trek, but they drive often and very expertly.
FormaVida (not to be confused with Formando Vidas, where we served on Sunday night), runs an after school program (OASIS) for the children and youth in the neighborhood. They currently average about 70 children and youth, but they declared that there’s more work to do because in the neighborhood, they estimate there to be about 700 children and youth. At OASIS, the participants are provided a meal, tutoring and homework help, spiritual formation, and a devotional from God’s Word.
We really enjoyed our time at FormaVida. It was amazing to see the staff love the children and youth. We also got a chance to learn about all their other programs (bracelet making and knitted purses to help youth learn responsibility and also to earn money; music; English as a Second Language, etc.), and were impressed by their prayerful dreams to expand ministries in order to continue bringing in new children and youth and their families to Christ.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will be serving at Colegio a la Cima, a school about 45 minutes away (but still in Bogota – which never seem to end). This school is trying to grow into some of the good work El Camino Academy is doing, and has made English language learning part of their mission. Tomorrow is also our last full day in Colombia. In that light, our prayer is that we finish well.
Over the last few days, we have been encouraging our team to finish well, to let God use them to keep pouring out Christ’s love, and to conquer any challenges that may have been holding them back on the trip. I am excited to see what tomorrow will bring. As always, thank you all for your love, prayers, and support. Please continue to pray for us. Pray that we may be so filled with God’s love, that it overflows on to all we serve; please pray that we continue to shine our lights for God’s glory.
We remain so very grateful to God for each of you. for your love, prayers, and support. We serve together, and we are all doing this kingdom work together. Thanks to you all again!
God bless and take care. Dios te Bendiga (God bless you)!
Youth Missions Team