When we first arrived in Colombia, people lived in abject poverty. The average house was a one room hut with a thatched roof. In town people would rent a single room in a larger home and the entire family would live there, sharing a bathroom with several other families. Needless to say, in those days the needs were great. As the church has matured God has blessed the Christians and now most are middle class, owning their own homes and driving cars to church instead of walking or taking the bus. While needs are not as great, there are still people and times when a very significant need appears and we are touched as we see the suffering and anguish of others.
We try as best we can to meet those needs in a manner that will not engender dependency but will communicate Christian love and compassion. We do that in two ways: first is our micro-loan program where we loan a small amount, typically about $500 for a very poor family to start a business of some sort. That has covered everything from a tamale business to a bicycle repair shop. We have bought chickens for farmers to start a chicken business and a downpayment on an outboard motor for a commercial fisherman. We encourage you to partner with us in these micro-loans as we help others help themselves.
The second way in which we help is when a health issue crops up and the person either has no medical coverage or their need is not covered. When the issue can involve risk to life itself, we try to step in quickly and help as an act of Christian concern and compassion. I will mention a couple such cases. An elderly couple in the church has been having a difficult time as the husband is now too old to work in Construction in any meaningful manner. They depend on what little he still can earn and on help from the church and family.
They came to church one Sunday and I noticed the wife was limping. I asked her what had happened and she mentioned and infected cut. I had her sit down where I could get a good look at her leg. I was shocked to see it badly swollen and with an obviously serious infection. Fiery red lines were streaking up her leg indicating the beginning of blood poisoning. I asked if she had been to the health post and she had, but they had done little to nothing. I immediately made arrangements for her to visit a physician the next morning. The medic was shocked at the condition of her leg and put her immediately on a high powered antibiotic regimen. He said that only a day or two more of delay and she would have lost her leg and perhaps her life! Yet her bill was only about $300!
We have helped many others in a manner that was just as significant in saving life and limb. In other cases we have helped families overwhelmed by the long term care of a loved one. One family has elderly parents with dementia and diabetes. They get some help from the government health care, but not much. We step in on a case by case basis and help with specific needs. Many of you are aware of how we have helped the lady who is our assistant camp manager. She has an autoimmune disease that is chronic and lifelong. Yet she gets very little help from the government health care system. Most recently, we helped Helen’s family pay for her funeral after her suddent death. So again we help on a case by case basis when she is having problems and the cost is not covered.
As you can see, the needs are great and the funds are often limited. We ask you to partner with us in serving those less fortunate in this life by helping supply for such needs. Any love offering to the benevolent fund will serve many and in many cases even save lives!