Here in Colombia we have always worked hard to train people to do every ministry in the church. Sunday school is an important ministry and one of the most important responsibilities of any church is to assure quality teachers to help prepare the children who will be the Church of tomorrow. Each year in Colombia we try to offer training for our Sunday school teachers. We use our best and most experienced teachers to do a most of the teaching.
For many years we have had helped provide micro loans to help poor Colombian Christians set up some sort of business by which they can support themselves. The loans normally are around five hundred dollars and are paid back through the recipient helping others to learn the trade or skill sets they have acquired. In this way the loan program has an ever widening effect in helping the church raise its standard of living.
It has been about one year since we launched our project to increase the size of our one acre church camp. Land here is very expensive, due in part to the insecurity. Areas that are secure are quite expensive. Our church camp is located in an area near the end of the runway for the air base, so military patrols keep this section quite safe. As a result, we have been able to use the camp with few concerns for safety. In spite of the very small piece of land we have, we regularly have fifty or more campers for events.
For the first time ever we held a second seminar in the course of one year on learning difficulties here in Villavicencio. This one was specifically geared towards diagnostics and was limited to the school psychologists here in the city. That way we would have a small enough number that we could work with each school psychologist in actual diagnostic exercises in order to help them be able to accurately identify a child with learning difficulties. Paul Odham, the specialist from Florida who leads these seminars was scheduled to come down and present them.
A few weeks ago, I took the work crew to the airport and said goodbye. A group of ten teenagers and two adult sponsors had been in Colombia for the past ten days. They came from one of Dewayne Liebrandt’s supporting churches and he was here with them. They arrived on Friday, the second of July and departed yesterday, the fourteenth of the month. It has been nearly two weeks of frenetic activity as the work crew painted large portions to two different schools, with brief breaks for some sight seeing and recreation. They worked very hard and were a joy to have here visiting us.
For the last week now I have been trapped in Villavicencio due to a major landslide that totally destroyed the road to between here and Bogotá. The very day I was planning on traveling an emergency case at the school delayed my departure and when I was about to leave, someone came running up with the news that the road was totally blocked by a major land slide. That was no problem as there was plenty of work to do and they were encouraging me to stay longer anyhow. So I simply settled in to working here and waiting on them to clear the rock and mud and reopen the road.
Last Saturday I traveled to Villavicencio to preach at the church and then spend the week working at the school. I put in a long hard week and was planning on traveling back up to Bogotá by the end of the week. I needed to get back up there to get ready for Paul Odham’s next trip down for a seminar with the school psychologists here in Villavicencio that is to take place the first week of August. I had planned on taking off on Friday morning after my devotional with the teachers and the kids.
We have had our college scholarship program for quite some time now, so it is time to share some of the stories of those who have been receiving benefits. Since Colombia is still a mission field and the churches here are very poor by American standards, most of the preachers support themselves by working at some trade to make a salary and they preach and evangelize because of their sense of calling and their zeal for the Lord and His kingdom here on earth. Yet most jobs in Colombia pay only a tiny wage, unless the person is a professional of some sort.
For many children of the Christians in Colombia, attending college is an impossible dream. Many were born into poor families and normally would never have even been able to dream of attending university. When the family turned to Christ and became Christians, in most cases the children also become Christians and begin to excel in life and they often begin to dream the impossible dream; of attending college and becoming a professional.
When Paul Odham was in Colombia, we presented our annual conferences on Learning Difficulties. This year Dewayne Liebrandt also came down and we video taped all of the sessions, so that people who could not attend would be able to take advantage of the training. This enabled us to teach not only the seven hundred teachers and parents who attended our sessions but through video to extend that teaching all over the jungle/prairie region of Colombia. Everyone could learn from the training sessions by seeing them on videos at their own time and convenience.