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. This was one of the reasons that we initiated our college scholarship program: to raise the educational level and income of the new generation of preachers and church leaders we are developing.
One of those young men is Carlos. He grew up in the church in Villavicencio, where we have worked for over thirty years. He came from one of our strongest Christian families and was always active in the youth group and the praise team. As he matured, he naturally began to assume more of a leadership role in these two areas; and in other aspects of church leadership. Today he is one of our pastor/elders and functions as one of our most dynamic and dependable young leaders in Villavicencio. He is a person who can always be counted on and available when a job needs to be done. He brings a youthful exuberance and energy yet has grown and matured to the point where he is also very dependable and has shown a significant wisdom for his age.
As Carlos finished high school, he was very interested in and good with computers. We were just setting up our computer lab at the school and he was a big help in getting this program started. He was working at the church and the school almost full time and supported himself doing odd jobs by working at whatever came around. He expressed a desire to study, but did not have the money for any kind of an education. At the suggestion and recommendation of the leaders of the Villavicencio church, we picked him up for a scholarship so that he could begin his university studies. He chose to study computer sciences so that he could work independently in that field and help with the increasing numbers of computers we were getting at the school. It is a field where he can earn a decent living yet work on his own schedule; leaving him ample time to work in ministry. Carlos in nearly done with his schooling. He has always done well and has never slacked off in his commitment to the Lord or his energetic service to the church.
At this point, he is to be entering his very last semester before graduating. The only problem is that the recent economic downturn has seriously diminished the one-time giving to our general fund that we used to support this program. Just as Carlos is about to finish up, we found ourselves with such a large deficit in this fund that we could not continue to fund scholarships. Our first step was to deny any new scholarships because we simply did not have the money to fund them. It was heart-breaking to see fine young people graduating from high school but unable to continue their studies because they grew up in poor families that could not pay for their university education. But even that did not staunch the flow of red ink in our college scholarship fund. This year it reached such a critical state that we are unable to even continue funding those students we now have in the university; and in the case of Carlos, nearly finished. So we turn to you and trust the Lord and your generosity to help us eliminate the deficit and replenish this important fund that supports a spectacular success story within our ministry here in Colombia. Please help Carlos to finish and provide for the next generation of new leaders for the Colombian church. Make a special donation today to our college scholarship fund and God will bless you as you are blessing a fine young Colombian leader and by doing that, bless the growing and maturing church here in Colombia!