The camp expansion has been a joint project with the Colombian church from the beginning. Some ten years ago, the church in Villavicencio purchased the original camp property. At that time, they could not afford the whole two acres and so purchased one acre with an option to buy the second. But they never could and when it appeared that additional land would be sold and lost to us, we stepped in to help the local church with the expansion of the camp property. Usage had grown to the point that many events had to be held elsewhere as we were limited to some fifty people on the original acquisition. And so, two years ago, we committed to purchasing the remaining piece of the lot and helping to develop it.
Originally, I was going to do this with another missionary, but the economic downturn really effected his support and so my wife and I shouldered the task together with you, our partners in ministry. It took us most of those two years to raise the funds to buy the remaining piece of land, but we also began the process of developing it. We did not want it to simply be an empty lot but we wanted to provide a vision what it would become and how it will soon be used. So we began to process of installing electricity and water and building the first of the cabins. Even though limited by funding, we moved forward. Several generous donations enabled us to install water, electricity, and build the first cabin.
Our efforts out back encouraged a renewed interest in the camp as they local church once again saw the hope of being able to make full use of the property and held events for the whole church, as there would soon be the capacity to house many more people. Since each cabin can hold as many as twelve young people, the ten planned cabins would mean we can house between 120 and 150 people and we can use the expansion and the original property as two units for smaller events or one large unit for big events for the whole church. As we began our work out back, they began to make a significant effort to raise funds for needed repairs and additions to the original camp property. A kiosk, used for meetings had been attacked by termites and was in danger of collapsing. At a cost of more than $5,000 they raised the roof, installed new metal posts, and then painted and repaired the whole facility. As they admired what we were doing out back, they were just as thrilled about what they had been able to do up front.
Then in a jovial moment, they challenged us to “keep up with them.” As they planned a much needed cafeteria space, they suggested we build the second cabin at the same time and see who would finish first. They suggested we match their investment in the cabin and make this a truly international project of the whole family of God. We had already begun the work on the second cabin, but had run out of funding and so had to stop it. They began the process of laying the foundation and raising the roof for the cafeteria area. Now both projects are under roof and they are working hard to see if they can finish theirs and at the same time challenge us to keep up with them. They remind us of the sacrifices they must make, as a church of very poor people, at least by American standards, and express their appreciation for help with the project. Then, with a grin, they say “let’s see who can get done first!”
At this point, we need to put the stucco on the blocks, install doors and windows, and then tile the bathrooms and kitchen, lay the floor, and paint the whole cabin. They need to build the canteen area with the plumbing, electrical installation, tiled kitchen area, and then lay the floor. The cost should be very similar. We have stopped work on the current cabin as we have run out of funding. We need $3,000 for the next step; the stucco. The Colombian church is doing all sorts of things to encourage the members there to raise funds to lay up the walls for the canteen area of the new kitchen facility. As they accept the challenge, they challenge us to work together to keep this project moving. Can we meet their challenge and match them dollar for dollar to keep this project on track? As God blesses us and challenges us to sacrifice for his kingdom, I am sure we can. And God will bless the ministry as we can use this facility to win and train many more Christians and leaders to form the next generation of believers in Colombia and for the world!