Tuesday, December 27, 2011
A Colombian Christmas present
Our departure from Panama was sudden and a little manic. With the cars finally booked on a ship bound for Colombia, following an epic effort by some of the team to make this happen, we were ready to book our own transport. As it was now just 6 days until Christmas we opted for flying but we had to get seats on several different flights.
So on Wednesday 21st December I and several others arrived in a hot and steamy Cartagena after overnighting in chilly Bogota. Yet again YWAM are our kind hosts. We have come here to pick up our vehicles from the port so that we can then drive on to Bogota. But with a few days to go before Christmas and no chance of picking our cars up until the 26th we had time to take up some ministry opportunities.
One group helped clean and prepare the YWAM school for the end of year presentation to the parents while I joined a group heading out to a village. Now, if I am honest, I did not understand why we were making a two hour journey to minister to some people when surely there were people to reach out to in Cartagena. Fortunately someone else was better tuned into what God wanted us to do. This turned out to be one of those days where you find yourself walking in God’s abundant favour and following in His footsteps.
We began to realise something special was happening when an attendant at the bus station showed unusual interest in who we were and the message we were carrying. As we prayed for him we could sense the opening of his heart to the love of Jesus.
We were met in Arjona village by Argelia and David who have been interceding for and ministering to their community for several years and had been told by God that He would send to them people from Africa. Their expectation of what God was going to do coinciding with our arrival was extremely high. First they blessed us with a fabulous lunch at their family café before taking us to the central square to pray for God’s guidance and power to be ours as we walked and ministered in the community. We had barely arrived in the square before we were pounced on by a couple of scruffy kids spotting an opportunity to wheedle an ice-cream from foreigners; they got a lot more than that. As we prayed for them the presence of God fell heavily on them both, we had to lay Christian down and Luz stood with tears streaming down her face. As we shared words of knowledge with them we all knew something significant was happening and after Christian had prayed to receive Jesus we invited them to join us as we continued.
As we walked into the poorer part of the village the houses and roads deteriorated; most of the houses were constructed with concrete block some rendered some not and most had the bars at the windows and doors that we have seen throughout this region. In the streets litter was strewn and there were pools of stagnant contaminated water; pigs and dogs wandered freely. Christian & Luz took us into the home of their aunt who was holding her feverish baby. She too was open to hear the good news of Jesus and wanted to pray to ask Him into her life.
As we continued to walk Argelia explained that this part of town had a big problem with drugs and guns and certainly it seemed that some of the stares we received were a little suspicious even hostile. Argelia stopped us at a shop cum bar and asked the people sitting there to gather others as she had something important to share. Half a dozen guys sat around a table watching us warily. But by the time she began speaking, with her passion and hunger for them to understand the message apparent to all, around 40 had gathered. And despite the initial disinterest and wariness they had shown it was clear they were soon captivated, I spotted them hushing each other to hear better. After one of our team shared his testimony of drug and alcohol addiction and how God had lifted him from that dark place into His beautiful light, offered to lead them in a prayer to ask Jesus to bring that light into their lives too. I whispered to him that I felt God wanted those who wanted to pray to show their willingness to step into this new life by standing up. I closed my eyes and prayed and heard no chairs move. So imagine my joy when I then opened my eyes again to see EVERY single person standing. We all just felt such excitement and joy for them and our Lord and that we had been privileged to share in this moment. After Argelia told them she would return to lead them in a Bible study we went on to pray for a local bar owner and his wife and to lead them to Christ; some children watching wanted to pray to receive Him too; we prayed for a young mother who had kidney stones who experienced His presence in an extremely physical and powerful way and told us she was confident that He had healed her; and finally we prayed for a young girl whose mother had died the previous month and who God had told that foreigners would come to pray with her.
We were filled with a conviction that all the people we had spoken to had been hand picked by God for us to meet and pray with, their openness to His love and His presence was evidence in itself that He had prepared the way. To see the joy and excitement that Argelia and David clearly felt, along with the evidence they had seen that God was answering their prayers for their community, was great encouragement for all of us. It was truly a very special Christmas gift to the team and we sat in the bus on our way back to Cartagena overflowing with the knowledge of His goodness and love for us.Posted by Susy Mayne