This past Sunday was typical in many ways. I was up early and got ready then headed out to church. Normally I attend and preach at two or three churches nearly every Sunday. So this past Sunday I headed out to the Normandia church where I was scheduled to preach. As always, church services here are great and I really enjoy my time at the services. Sunday is a day I look forward too all week long.
While there, I took a bit of time to visit the new deaf church that we planted there and that functions parallel with the Normandia church. Things are going well with them and we are now ready to begin our major push for evangelism and outreach. There were ten deaf individuals present and a couple of bilingual persons there as well. They meet with the hearing church through the communion service then split off and the rest of the time is a purely deaf church and the entire service is conducted in sign language. This church was started in conjunction with Dewayne Liebrandt and Deaf Missions International. We are grateful to brother Dewayne, as without him this would have been impossible.
Here in Colombia, we start churches with small groups and get them organized. Once the organizational step has passed, we then begin a major push for outreach and evangelism. We do it this way as there are normally some â€œteething painsâ€ in that initial set up period and those difficulties are much easier to deal with when the church is small. In keeping with that plan, two months ago, we launched a new church plant on the southwestern edge of BogotÃ¡. We began with some families from that area of BogotÃ¡ and a few of our musicians from other churches that have been helping with the music. That area of town is called Soacha, and is actually a small town that has been absorbed by BogotÃ¡ as the city has grown.
So after the morning service in Normandia and a meeting with the deaf ministry people, I loaded up the car and headed down to Soacha (pronounced Sew-Acha)for the church service there. I was scheduled to preach for the first time at that new church. We had recently finished the organizational stage and were now in the early part of our outreach and evangelism efforts there. This is an extremely poor section of down and the streets are mostly mud and ruts. It is an area that requires a four wheel drive vehicle to get into. I arrived about an half hour before the service was to begin in order to be there to chat with the leaders and greet all of the new Christians as they arrive.
The church meets in an empty lot we have there, as there is no money for a building and the church is too small and poor and cannot yet consider putting up a building. But then buildings are not needed for a church plant. We pray for good weather but there is a very small lean-to that we can crowd into in case it does rain. The biggest problem is there is no restroom available there yet either and with three hour services and more than fifty people, including people of all ages, the lack of a restroom is a high priority, as soon as we are able to afford to put on in.
This past Sunday, there were forty two people present when the service began. Several more wandered in during the service, filling up the fifty chairs we had set up and leaving many people standing. It was a beautiful service in the open air and under the afternoon sky. We had our song service and then communion. After that, I preached out of the book of Romans. I was interrupted several times by applause as the new Christians are exuberant about their faith and excited by hearing the Gospel preached. New churches are always exciting and I am thrilled by the chance to be a part of so many new church plants.
After the service was over, as it common here in Colombia, the people stayed around to chat and enjoy the fellowship for a long time after the service was over. After perhaps an hour or so, the people slowly began to take their leave and head back to their homes. It was more than two hours until the final departures and we were able to head back to our houses and apartments. I took a load back to the central part of town, dropping different people off at bus stops or at their homes. I got back to our apartment here about 8:30 that evening. It had been a long day and I was tired. But I was also thrilled by seeing what God is doing here in Colombia.