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Join us in building a church camp in Villavicencio, Colombia

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Christian service camps have contributed to the growth and spiritual enrichment of our churches in the United States. Colombian christians love “going to camp” too. Yet, in Colombia, we must rent facilities since we do not have a place large enough to hold camp for multiple churches. We now have the opportunity to change that as we work with the Colombian church to expand the current small camp that has been developed by one of the churches. Partner with us in this exciting project and take this opportunity to be a part of this ministry!

Three years ago, conditions in Colombia had improved so much that after living and working in Bogotá for nearly ten years, I was considering moving back down to Villavicencio, where my wife and I had worked for more than two decades. The ministries I was involved with in Bogotá were coming to a conclusion and the Colombians were taking over those areas; as has always been our plan and policy.

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During this time, I was conferring with Martin Sanders, the other missionary in our region, and with the Colombian leaders as to where I could best serve. There was a pressing need for more time at Colegio Peniel (the Christian Day School) as well as to reactivate our institute level leadership training program; which had languished during my time in Bogotá. At the same time, the camp that the local church purchased and developed was way too small as the numbers of people attending events surpassed the capacity of the small one acre facility. We only had fifty beds and many camp events had 120 to 150 people in attendance.

As a result, all of the Colombian leaders were in agreement that the place I was most needed was in Villavicencio and the ministry where I could do the most for the Colombian church was with Christian education in the form of leadership training, the Christian school (Colegio Peniel) and the church camp program, with a renewed focus on developing a new generation of leaders by all of these means and methodologies.

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Precisely at that time, another acre of land became available at the camp location. One of the neighbors made a very generous offer to buy the lot, but the current owner was a member of the church and he insisted we have the first option. He even offered us a price that was significantly lower than the going rate for land in the area. Martin Sanders encouraged me to head up this project to purchase the land and develop it by building cabins on it for use with the camp and the leadership training institute.

At first I was very reluctant as this would involve raising significant funds for a major new project right at the time I was looking forward to slowing down a bit. The American economy was also entering into a major recession. At that moment, we had a work crew from Forest Dale Church in Cincinnati. As I spoke with Martin Sanders and the Church elders I bounced the ideas off of them about the project. They considered all they heard and felt it was a very good idea and a great opportunity. They encouraged us take up the project and move forward. They even offered to work towards making a significant love offering to demonstrate their support.

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After much prayer and consideration, I decided to move back to Villavicencio as my primary ministry location, to work with the school, the leadership training ministry with the camp as the location for much of that work. With a larger camp we will be able to bring students from the Colegio Peniel out for day trips and specialized training. We can also bring prospective leaders to Villavo, house them at the camp, and do intensive training with them while not requiring that they leave their jobs and livelihoods for any extended period of time.

Along with this, we could once again offer a camp program for the churches by expanding facilities from 50 beds to 120 to 150 beds. This was a program that was Colombian initiated and of major value to the church yet one with which they needed help to move forward. This is precisely the way we have worked with the national church to support its development towards indigeneity. With the encouragement from the local elders and our supporting churches, in conjunction of my abilities and training, I saw the Lord’s calling and accepted the call and challenge.

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We committed to buying the land and moving forward with the project. Soon, we had raised enough money for the downpayment on the property. Along with this, we slowly began to develop the additional land. We installed a water line and electricity. Then started working on a master plan, which would include ten cabins, five on each side of the new lot. The cabins would have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchenette, and a covered patio area in the front that could also be used as a garage (see diagram on back). I would live in one cabin and the rest would be available for campers. The idea is that each cabin could hold three bunk beds in each bedroom when we are having a youth camp. The cabins could also be set up to hold two married couples. The final arrangement could be for families, where the couple could stay in one bedroom and the kids in the other.

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At the current time, we have one cabin finished, another is almost under roof but lacking all of the finishing, including floors, doors, and windows. We have a foundation available for the next unit. Progress has been slow as the cost of securing the lot and building on it has been significant. Thankfully, at this point the lot is paid off and we are well under way with the initiation of the construction project. Now, as we begin work on the curriculum for the leadership training program and the camp program, we need to move forward with the development of the facilities as quickly as possible.

This project is holistic in nature. The training depends on the facilities and the facilities enable us to do this type of training and teaching. We must move forward with both elements at the same time if the overall plan is to work. It is here that we depend on the Lord’s people to partner with us in this project. You, your Sunday school class, small group or the church as a whole can select one of the projects and make it your goal to see that step completed. We have a list of projects of all sizes, which include everything from a complete cabin to a foundation or a roof. Your church could even raise funds for an entire cabin with different Sunday School classes, small groups, or other classes raising funds for each portion, then you can send down a group to work on your cabin.

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This new stage in ministry offers exciting opportunities to see the work in Colombia take another giant step forward. The Lord is doing great things and the excitement is contagious. You and your church will be blessed by sharing in this incredible opportunity to do great things for the Lord and His Kingdom in Colombia. Check out the list of projects, look over dates for a possible work crew from your church, and make plans to bless others and to be blessed by joining with us in the next phase of Christian maturation for the church in Colombia.

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