Before coming to Colombia, a mentor and pastor friend of mine recommended that I get together with Freddy Nieto while in Bogotá. He’s the pastor of Iglesia Bíblica Bautista de Suba (Suba Biblical Baptist Church) and is doing an incredible work. We met up with him and his wife this morning and spent several hours learning about the way that God is working in Bogotá and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go to any of their church services, but we were able to tour the church’s beautiful facility and spend several hours with this precious pastor and his wife. Their church runs about 500 and they see people saved every week. There are many studying in their Bible Institute getting ready to go out into the rest of the country to reach the lost. Amen!
Be praying with me if you will, as Brother Freddy asked me to consider coming back in January to preach their annual youth camp. It would be an awesome opportunity but we’ll have to see if finances and time permit and ultimately if God opens the doors for this.
Later this afternoon we met up with a new missionary family, Daniel and Jennifer Mee along with their beautiful little baby girl Eliana (definitely made me miss my daughter Amira). They work with ABWE and just arrived here in the country about a month ago. They gave us some great advice about deputation, moving to Colombia and general tidbits of info they wished they’d have known before moving here. God is really working in their hearts and they are excited to be part of a movement of church planting and evangelism here in Bogotá and around Colombia.
After a delicious dinner with the Mee family we went to the Bogotá Baptist Seminary that is sponsored by ABWE and enjoyed their evening chapel service. There are quite a few young people studying in the Seminary to become pastors and missionaries and even to be laymen in the churches. There were maybe 40 in the room, then another 90 or so studying online through correspondence courses. Praise God for what he is doing in this ministry! The Lord has already used them to start dozens of churches around Bogotá and there are plans for even more churches down the road as God permits.
What we are finding is that God is definitely working here. It is incredible! People are finding hope. Souls are being eternally saved. Lives are being changed. Families are being restored. Revival is being experienced. It is great!
However, even with the wonderful news about what God is doing in this place, we must be honest with ourselves.
Let me throw some stats at you… I live in the US state of Georgia. According to the 2010 US Census, there are 9,687,653 people in Georgia. That’s just a little bigger than the city of Bogotá–smaller, if you include Bogotá’s larger metro area. In 2005 there were an estimated 8,190 Baptist churches. That’s one church for every 1,183 people. Do we need more churches there? Of course!
Yet… in this city of over 8,500,000 people (11,000,000 according to some statistics) there are maybe 25 or 30 churches, total. Only 25 or 30. That’s all. To me, at first, honestly it seemed like a lot. It seemed that this city, at least, was being reached. But that’s only one church for every 440,000 people. Wow.
God is working here.
But the need is still great.
What are we doing to reach this city?
What are we doing to reach the world?
What will you do?
We’re leaving tomorrow. I am thankful that we’ve been able to spend this time here. God has worked in my heart and I am more excited than ever about coming to this beautiful country and to these beautiful people to tell them about my beautiful Savior. He loves them and gave his life for them. The least we can do is deliver the message!
Today we went to la Iglesia “La Biblia Dice…” (“The Bible Says” Church) and got to meet some new friends. This is a Baptist church that was started by a missionary, Paul Clark 26 years ago (the church’s anniversary was today), and God has blessed in huge ways. The church has been pastored for a while now by a Colombian man who was reached through the ministry and they have about 1,000 people, with two services that are packed to capacity every week. They have sent out many people from the church to start more churches and have dozens of daughter and granddaughter works around Colombia and in Venezuela. Their goal is “Colombia Para Cristo en 5 Años” (Colombia for Christ in 5 years). They are well on their way!
After church, Pastor Rudy Garrido and his precious family took us out to eat and then to their home for a wonderful time of fellowship. God is using this man in an incredible way.
He explained to me the three stages of discipleship that has become the heart of their ministry. When somebody accepts Christ they are invited to an “induction” course. They meet once a week, either on Monday or Saturday, and go through 8 lessons that teach mostly about salvation, eternal security, baptism and church membership. These lessons are taught in a group setting by one of the church leaders.
After these 8 weeks, most of these people are baptized and join the church, then are invited to be involved in a more thorough one-on-one discipleship series of 13 lessons. The people teaching these lessons are people who have gone through all three levels of discipleship themselves and can identify with the individual on a personal level. A taxi driver would disciple another taxi driver. A housewife would disciple another housewife. A businessman would disciple another businessman. etc… These lessons deal with the basics of the Christian life and get people well founded in what they believe and how to explain to others what they believe.
Then, the third level of disciple ship is a series of 16 lessons that go very deep into the Christian faith, getting people well familiar with the theology of salvation, having a strong prayer life, how to do in-depth Bible study, evangelism methods, etc. When people come out of these lessons, they are able to comfortably teach others in the one-on-one courses.
Furthermore, the church offers more classes for going deeper in one’s Christian life. The series they’re going through now is “¿Quién Es Dios?” or, Who is God? Even the pastor and his wife go to this and it is almost like another church service, with about 300 going through this at any given time.
People get saved every week. There were about 15 that were saved today! The church is involved in many outreach programs, going on mini missions trips around Colombia, soul winning in local parks (they give people a free bottle of water if they’ll give them 5 minutes in return lol), conferences for young people and so many other things. Most of the people who visit, are saved and get involved in the ministry are personal friends and contacts of the church’s members. They teach a lifestyle evangelism. Not just one day a week. It’s a whole manner of life.
This is truly an incredible ministry. A ministry we might like to learn from even more, if God permits.
Be praying for God to direct us as to His perfect Will. We definitely need His guidance.
Tomorrow we will be meeting with Freddy Nieto, another national pastor here in Bogotá, then hopefully visiting the ministry that ABWE has here along with their Bible College. We’ll keep you posted!
What a day!
We saw much of the city today, but honestly we have hardly scratched the surface. We walked around several important neighborhoods, saw huge plazas and big museums, and we were able to go up to Cerro Monserrate, a Catholic church on top of the mountain by the city. We’re finding that the Colombians are very good at their Teleféricos (cable cars) as this is the third one we’ve ridden so far.
Here’s a few things we’ve learned while here in Bogotá, many of which can also be applied to many other cities around the world:
1. People are Religious
This country is over 90% Roman Catholic, and it shows in many parts of their society. The Hotel we stayed at in Bucaramanga even had a chapel and held mass everyday for those traveling through. Catholics aren’t the only ones here, though. There are reports of Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness, Taoists, Ba’hai, Atheists, several Evangelical denominations and others that claim this as their home. Everybody has religion. It’s that way in the entire world. So, what makes us different? Why would we want to come here when people already have something to believe? Read on…
2. Religion is Empty.
One person defined religion as “Man’s attempt to get to God.” But that’s just it… we can’t get to God. That’s why he came to us. Nearly every religion, including most of those found in this country, are based on works. My good deeds. You know, the scale system. Everything good I ever did is weighed against everything bad I ever did. Whichever is greater determines my eternal fate. If I were sincerely judged on that scale, I’d lose. There’s no doubt. I was talking to one of our taxi drivers about this today as I was explaining the Gospel. He seemed so intrigued that we could actually be saved in spite of who we are. It’s the beauty of God’s salvation. But religion…. religion is empty. It leaves you wanting. That’s because it can only give so much hope. What we need is a relationship. When Jesus Christ becomes not only a figure of our church but our Savior and Lord, that’s when we have hope of life. That’s when things become different. That’s what sets us apart. It’s not what I do, it’s what He has done!
3. People are Searching.
You remember all those religions I listed off just a second ago? You know why those places are filling up? It’s because people want something else. They want hope. The dead faith of their fathers has left them wanting, and they are willing to look elsewhere for the truth that’s missing. Unfortunately, what they find many times, and even what they take a risk on and sometimes change their entire life for, is just another lie. That’s why we need to get the truth in their hands. The harvest is ripe. People are searching!
4. Christ’s Church is Growing.
In spite of all the lies in this place, in spite of all the deception, in spite of all the false prophets, and in spite of the need that still exists, God’s is building his work here. There are quite a few good churches that we’ve found in this city. We hope to visit two of them tomorrow. Be praying though, that God would send more laborers here. Would you pray about coming?
I’ll leave you a few more photos before going to bed. We only have a couple of days left before heading back to Georgia. Pray that God would help us redeem the time. Love you all….
It’s amazing the things you’ll do for something (or someone) you love!
Today we arrived in Bogotá, which is the capital city of Colombia with a metro population of over around 8,500,000 people. It’s huge. Really huge. This city is very high too, at about 8,600 feet above sea level, and it’s a bit colder too, compared to the other cities we’ve visited.
Well, being a larger city, and being the capital, there are quite a few more american stores and restaurants here. It’s crazy how much you can miss something that’s familiar after not having it available for a couple of weeks.
Well, my wife mentioned going to eat dinner at one of these places. And, since I liked that particular place, and I love my wife, we decided to set out on a grand trek to find it. A map said it was only about 20 blocks away. It would be a nice little walk.
Then it started to rain.
Then it even started hailing.
Then we found an umbrella. Too late, maybe? lol
Needless to say, we were entirely drenched. Completely wet. Soaked to the core. You get the idea….
But when we found it (inside of a mall, of all places) it was oh, so good. Worth every drop of rain dripping from our noses; every sopping step we took; every shiver in the cold and wet breeze.
We found our Taco Bell. Yum. We were willing to pay the price!
Sometimes I wonder if we’re willing to pay the price for other things too. A wise man once told me, “Aaron, people always do what they want to do.” How true is that! If somebody really wants something, they’ll find a way.
This is a big city. The need is so great, not only here in Colombia but around the entire world. But are we willing to pay the price? It might be difficult, yes. But we have the power of an almighty God on our side. He has commanded us to go, but we as Christians have not gone.
Has there been anything in your life that’s been easy to pay the price for, yet other things are just so hard?
I know it’s been that way for me. Would to God that we could take a stand, live for the Lord, do what’s right and reach the world. We need His power and strength.
So, people always find a way to do what they want to do. What do you want to do?
When asking some of my Colombian friends in the States where we should go while in Bucaramanga, many of them recommended a nearby canyon called Chicamocha. So, today we went to Parque Nacional Chicamocha, and let me say, it was spectacular.
The trip there was interesting, to say the least. It took us a total of a couple hours by bus to get to a place called Mesa De Los Santos. From there we grabbed the Teleférico (cable car) across the canyon and up to the park. This cable car system is one of the largest of its kind in the entire world and the view was nothing short of amazing.
Once at the park, we grabbed lunch (I had the goat–forgive me, it was tasty!), walked a bunch, saw some ostriches and other wildlife, and I was stung by a wasp and got highly sunburnt. Overall it was a pretty nice day!
Tonight we also looked around more at some places to live here. The real estate prices and rental prices are incredibly low compared to Medellín and of course the States. Medellín’s prices weren’t bad at all, but housing is dirt cheap here.
Tomorrow we fly out to Bogotá, our last stop before heading back to Georgia. It will be sad leaving this place. We’ve made some friends here already, and we know that the Gospel is highly needed. Will you pray that God sends more laborers to Bucaramanga, Colombia?
Also be praying for a touchy situation in Bogotá. The country’s truckers have been on strike for over 2 weeks over some financial issues, and for the last 3 days they’ve blocked several major intersections in the city. The president said that if an agreement wasn’t met tonight that force would be used to remove them (possibly resulting in violence), and they seem to have just met that agreement. But, even still, there may be a few complications in getting around. We’ve also received emails from the US Embassy warning us about these events. If you want to know more, click here.
Pray that God will be glorified through us as we finish up this last leg of our journey.