Greetings, friends! Today starts a new Monday blog series called “Last Sunday Around the World.” On Mondays we will read stories from our partners around the globe and in the United States as they restart church post-lockdown.
Today we get a look into the mighty works of God in Colombia. I know you will rejoice in the update shared today by Daniel Mee.
Ministry in Colombia had never seemed more fun or fruitful. The residential seminary where we work was in the middle of its biggest semester ever. The new church plant had recently achieved the goal of financially supporting its Colombian pastor and making its own rental payments. As a church we were also planning on starting a new evangelistic Bible study in a neighborhood near the church.
On March 20th, the Colombian government announced we were going into a mandatory lockdown for 4 days. Those 4 days turned into weeks, which have turned into months. I began to struggle with giving up plans. Things were going so well and COVID-19 seemed to be destroying plans and tearing down accomplishments. As I write, it is now June 1st. I still struggle at times with giving up certain plans, but as I look back on this time and what God has done, my heart is filled with praise to a sovereign God who was not surprised by COVID-19 and who is not currently implementing plan B. My heart rejoices to see a few of the ways in which he has let us see how his plans are better than ours. I will mention a few.
- Meeting online has created in our church a strong desire to meet all together in the same place.
- Our church now understands the Lord’s Supper better than before. At the beginning of the lockdown we had decided we would wait till we were physically together again before celebrating the Lord’s Supper. We believe that an important aspect of the Lord’s Supper is the unity of the body of believers and we didn’t think we could emphasize that aspect online. However, as time passed we knew we needed to observe this important ordinance. Some of you can imagine the questions that arose from the young church whose members are primarily from a Catholic background. Observing the Lord’s Supper in this format actually opened doors for us to teach on these topics in a way most of the church will never forget. Church members prepared juice and bread, we turned on our cameras on Zoom and we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together.
- We were able to enjoy fellowship with other churches. The church where we are serving is the result of a church-planting effort of two mother churches. As pastors of the three churches, we meet every week to drink coffee, talk ministry, and plan future church-planting efforts. We had often talked of getting the three churches together for a joint service but as the churches grew, finding a place to all meet together became more and more difficult. Because each church was meeting online, we realized that we could easily plan a joint service. On May 31st the three churches met together via Zoom and facebook live. Music, prayer, and even preaching was shared between the three churches. We celebrated the history of the churches and encouraged the churches with the plans for the next church plant.
- God has brought together the largest evangelistic Bible study we have ever done in Colombia. After praying for some time for the evangelistic Bible study we would start after the pandemic passed, we realized that perhaps this extended lockdown was an amazing opportunity to share hope with our community. When we floated the idea of a virtual Bible study, our church immediately began to invite neighbors, friends, and family members. In my heart I hoped that there would be at least 4 people. The first night of the study I looked with amazement as more and more people joined the video call. At one point I looked down and there were 41 computers connected to the call. Many of those connections represented whole families. God’s ways are certainly best.
- God has provided. Not only has the church been able to continue to support its pastor and pay its rent, but there have also been opportunities for the church to give to those in need.
- Beyond these opportunities we have also been able to participate in a virtual missions conference with around 800 people connected. These conferences usually host around 300. In a couple of weeks we are holding a church-planting training course for pastors. Not only has nearly every pastor we have invited signed up to attend, but we are also able to have a group of amazing professors from the US and Latin America that we would never have been able to gather in a traditional classroom.
This is not to say that we haven’t had our difficulties. Just like you, we have had problems with internet at times, certain people in our church have become more distant, and the seminary faces many difficulties for upcoming semesters… But looking at what God has done, I recognize that his plans are always better than mine and my heart is motivated to trust him for the future (Is. 55:8-9)