This past week I again made a trip up to the Colombian Caribbean coast visit the new church in Cartagena. I traveled with Mike Householder and John Leech to visit the church there and translate and teach the leaders there. As is typical, the entire five day trip was a hectic whirlwind of activity. We were busy from the time we arrived till the moment we boarded the plane for our return trip.
We flew up on Thursday and spent that first afternoon and evening in meetings with the church leaders there. We analyzed the status of the church and areas where improvements needed to be made. Then we began to design our teaching program to meet the needs of that church and to further train the leaders and key members of the church.
On Friday morning we traveled to the Christian day school that they run and had a devotional with the parents of the children. The idea is to launch a daughter church in that area of town in the course of this year. We set up the initial Bible study that we hope will lead to the church plant and then worked to encourage the parents and their children to attend. We had our only down time that afternoon and so I grabbed a taxi and we headed down to the old walled city and walked around. We were back at the preacherâ€™s house, where we were staying, by mid-afternoon.
That evening we had a Bible study and evangelistic service in the home of a new member with more than forty people present. It went well and we had a very good response. We use these home Bible studies to evangelize neighbors and to encourage and teach the Christians in evangelism and Christian living. After the service we enjoyed fresh baked bread as the house is also a home based business where bread is baked and shipped to local bread stores.
The next morning nearly the entire church packed up and headed out to a local farm for a weekend retreat. Once there we mixed both teaching and fellowship time. Teaching sessions would last a couple of hours then we would have a half hour break. There were not nearly enough beds available so people slept on couches, the floor, and in hammocks. I slept in a hammock under a thatched roof for the first time in more than fifteen years. There were a lot of mosquitoes and no nets, so we are praying that the Lord protected us from the malaria and other diseases that mosquitoes sometimes carry; but then that is simply an occupational hazard for those of us who work as missionaries in the tropics.
Sunday we had a church service and baptismal services. There were two baptisms that week as the church there continues to grow. We held more teaching sessions and one of mine was on the meaning and purpose of the Lordâ€™s Supper. Conferences continued till late afternoon when we caught a rickety old bus back into the city. That evening was time for a final session with the church leaders and a few evangelistic visits there in the city. As with every previous night, it was very late before we turned in.
The next morning it was time to pack up and have a few final words with the church leaders before heading to the airport to catch our plane back to BogotÃ¡. The church is small yet and could use much help. But the cost of traveling up there by plane has made it hard to visit and work with them as much as we should. If anyone feels that God is leading them to help with getting this new church established, for about $50.00 per month we could make several trips a year up there and do a lot more to help get this new church plant moving. In the meantime, we will do our best and work with them via internet and phone and plan on the rare trips up that we can afford. Even with the limits of time and funding, it is exciting to see Godâ€™s kingdom growing and spreading around Colombia. Praise God with us for these exciting events!