Yesterday I visited the Paraiso (Paradise in English) church in a poor section of BogotÃ¡. This church has been a real inspiration all and is a joy to visit. The church always amazes me as it just grows and grows even with significant obstacles. One problem for them has been the poverty of the believers which means they have not been able to purchase a lot or a building for the church. And so lacking a building, they must rent garages and places like that to meet.
That engenders a significant expense and inherent instability for the church. They never know when the landlord will raise the rent or demand they move out of his property. Added to this, is the obvious inconvenience of trying to cram a hundred people into a single car garage for a church service. We have often dreamed of helping them yet the collapsing value of the dollar and our own very tight budget has made it impossible to provide the needed funds to buy a lot or a building for them.
The preacher at this church is a humble man with a deep faith and an iron clad commitment to the Lord and His church. He works in construction to support himself and his family but spends a majority of his time in evangelism and church work. He and his family make significant sacrifices in order to preach the Gospel. He never asks for anything other than fellowship and teaching as he works to build the Lordâ€™s church in this poverty belt on the outskirts of BogotÃ¡. He is very appreciative of any effort to help, even when it is nothing more than a once a month visit.
Yesterday, when I went to visit him and the church there, he said he had something he wanted to show me. We walked two blocks up from where the church was currently renting a garage. As we gazed at en empty lot with foundations, columns, and walls that reached about three of four feet into the air, he beamed as he asked me what I thought. â€œA very nice lotâ€ I said, â€œDo you want to buy this for the church.â€ He broke out into a huge smile as he answered back, â€œI already did.â€ I was shocked. He and his family live very modestly and his income is limited. â€œHow did you manage that?â€ I asked as I knew how poor he is. He looked back at me and said calmly, â€œI sold my house and moved in with relatives so as to be able to secure this lot for the church,â€ referring to a tiny home he owned and where he had lived with his family. I was shocked at the audacity of his faith and commitment.
As I pondered the faith of this humble man who would sacrifice even his own home in order to provide for the church of our Lord. My thoughts drifted to this incredible display of commitment and confidence demonstrated by someone with such deep faith and willing sacrifice. When this lot had suddenly become available do to a death in the family of the owner, the preacher knew he had to act quickly as suitable lots in this area are rapidly disappearing. I was absolutely amazed by his level of commitment to the Lord and his willingness to give up everything for the good of the church.
It made me conscious of my own limited sacrifices for the Kingdom of God and the feeble confidence we often have in the promises of our Lord. We would all do well to learn from a simple Colombian preacher whose commitment to and confidence in the Lord is so great, that an open door of opportunity knows no obstacle when it presents a significant benefit to the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. I went to the Paraiso to be a blessing to them. I came home blessed and with a renewed commitment to do my very best to preach and teach here in Colombia for the furthering of the Lordâ€™s kingdom.