My family and I were honored to host a mission team of 20 people a couple weeks ago from Winchester, TN. The group was made up of high school seniors from Winchester CPC, some of their parents, their youth minister, and the youth minister and his wife from Tusculum CPC. How we were blessed by this experience in so many ways.
The group came and worked very hard sharing with some of our communities the love of God. Their first full day they went to the El Central church downtown and had dinner with some people from the community, some church members, and gave groceries and supplies for each family to take home with them.
Sunday was a big day. The group split into 5 groups and went to 5 of our different churches in the Emaús Presbytery. They worshiped at Caldas, Envigado, San Javier, La Rosa, and Zamora churches. Each group gave a word of encouragement and said hello. One of the young men preached at Zamora. After worship every church was gracious enough to provide lunch for the small teams.
The groups then traveled back to the Finca, the small farm in the mountains where we stayed, in Amagá. That evening we had a youth event where some students from all of the churches came. We hung out, listened to music, danced, swam, and had a typical Colombian cookout. In the evening the pastor from Zamora led some activities and gave a devotion. The youth stayed until after lunch on Monday, so we were lucky to hangout the next day. We continued our fellowship as brothers and sisters in Christ and building relationships that are so important for our church.
Monday, while most of us stayed at the finca and continued with the youth, some went to our church in town and started helping with the church’s ongoing construction project. These men worked very hard, side by side with the Colombians. For many in the group, their highlight was building a relationship with the foreman we called “El Jefe”. He often attends our church in Caldas. They were able to go up the road to have coffee with El Jefe and learn about each other’s families and lives. Many times just using the Google voice translator on their phones. El Jefe made sure to buy them all a bag of coffee before they left the last day to show his appreciation.
In the afternoon on Monday, the group gathered together again to do food distribution. With music in the background, we put together bags full of groceries, soap, toilet paper, and even fresh eggs. We prayed over 30 bags for 30 families in the community. After our prayer, we divided up into two groups and ventured about the city of Amagá on foot to distribute the food, and we invited the families to our activities scheduled for the rest of the week. For many, this was the most powerful experience because they had the opportunity to enter homes, talk with the people, and pray for them. Truly, they were the hands and feet of God that evening as they bravely worked and shared the loved of God, while meeting the needs of the people.
Tuesday, the construction crew continued in the morning with the work with El Jefe, while the rest of the team started preparing and painting the inside and outside of the church. That afternoon, the group split into two groups again. The women put on an event for the women in the community. One of the students gave a fantastic devotion explaining Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Since they wanted the women to know how important they are and how valued they are, the group continued in the worship by washing their feet. They also painted nails, fellowshipped, and provided some snacks that the women like but don’t get very often because of the cost. They were very successful in making the women in Amagá feel valued and special!
I personally will never forget how the group even included my 3-year-old daughter, Bella. As a dad, I will never forget seeing her sitting patiently for her turn as the team made their way to her and washed her feet. Thank you!
The rest of the team walked across town to the community soccer field. Here they got to see Timoteos in action. Timoteos (Timothy) is a ministry out of the church that provides the youth of Amagá with the opportunity to train and play soccer in a league. The head coach is a ministerial candidate that works very hard to help these players grow in skill, ability, and knowledge not only with soccer but with God as well. Right now they have between 150-200 participants. While the team was here another student gave a great devotion. Some of the team trained and did drills with the players. Others in the group got out footballs and showed them a little about what we call football (not to be mistaken with fútbol). One thing is for sure; I don’t think the people who played with the laughing and smiling children will ever forget the time they were in South America playing soccer in the rain on the side of a mountain. God truly is good and blesses us with wonderful memories.
Wednesday was our last day of work. After breakfast we continued our projects. El Jefe had his workers, and the rest of us continued painting. About mid-morning a truck came that had between 850-900 cinderblocks. The team was not intimidated. We turned up the music, put on gloves, started an assembly line, and got to work unloading the truck and moving the blocks to the back where they were stacked on the construction site.
In the afternoon, the team prepared and facilitated a day of VBS for the children of Amagá. The church was packed with over 65 kids. Some were even siting outside doing the activities on the sidewalks around the church. It was amazing to see all the joy going on and how God was using the team. Not everyone always had a translator with them, but they were still able to communicate and pour their gifts and love all over the community. Amazing!
In the evening, we had worship with the church where we invited some of the people we had seen in the community to come. When worship started, I was outside sitting across the street watching as all the doors and windows to the church were opened. There was no more room in the church, so people were standing outside looking over shoulders worshiping God from the street. It was an incredible sight.
One of the men on the team was with me and said, “You know, at home we sit in church and talk about this or talk about that. We argue over the building or worship… silly stuff. And these people don’t even fit in the church and are happily standing outside looking through a window. I’ll never forget this!”
When I think about this mission team, I think of two scriptures.
- 1 Peter 4:10-11 – God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
- Galatians 6:9-10 – So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.
This team was made up of so many different people with different gifts, and they all came together to serve God in major ways. Some planned things before they got here, some spoke to groups, some worked hard in the hot sun with El Jefe, some loved on the pastor and members of the church, some brought laughter, some played with children, some washed feet, some painted, and all did for the glory of God!
The second scripture talks about doing good for people whenever we can. Not only did these people give up vacation time and spring break, but they traveled really far from home to show the churches in Emaús Presbytery that they are part of our Cumberland Presbyterian family. In return, God poured blessing out in every direction. I still am getting messages from some of the church members talking about the experience!
Thank you Winchester CPC and Tusculum CPC for supporting this team and sending them to serve in Colombia, South America!
What more can we say but that we are ready for the rest of you to put together mission teams to come and serve with us in Colombia. Remember, the size of group doesn’t matter and we will customize the trip to fit the gifts of your group. Calling all churches, groups, men, women, youth, and young adults… this is your invitation to come and serve!!! We are waiting!!!