Thank you to everyone who prayed for me during my trip in June 2018 to Armenia, Colombia. I was blessed to be able to go, but it was prayer that made any of it possible. It’s my honor to share some pictures and stories with you of what God did in Armenia.
The mission trip was organized by e3Partners. James and I joined a team of 25 Americans from various churches in 8 different states (Wyoming, Texas, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina, Michigan, and Washington). I knew some of them from my trip last year, but not all. We met up along the way, and were all excited about the trip!
We arrived in Bogota, en route to Armenia. The entire team had a 14 hour layover (midnight to 2pm on Sunday), and planned to spend the night in a hotel. But 2 team members, who had flown separately from Maryland, were nowhere to be found. And so my trip launched in a way I could never have imagined. We hadn’t yet arrived at our final destination, and therefore didn’t have local ministry partners to translate. I was appointed translator, as I’m fluent in Spanish and half Colombian.
I spent the next 12 hours alongside the team leader, searching for our missing team members. We searched the airport. We talked to officials, and airport personnel, and the police. He activated emergency protocols within e3partners. We confirmed that they had boarded their flight, and their flight had arrived, but nobody knew where they were. They weren’t answering their phones. And Bogota has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the country.
At 10am the next morning, having gone back to the hotel for a couple hours of sleep while waiting for e3partners leadership to pull strings and then decide if/how to escalate the situation, we got the call that they had checked into their flight to Armenia. That meant they were likely in the airport and okay. We rushed over to check in ourselves and verify, and sure enough, it was all a miscommunication. They thought they were spending the layover in the airport, so they’d stayed in the secure area (where we were unable to search), and they didn’t have wifi or international calling turned on. They had no idea they were “lost”.
God used that “trip launch” to build my faith. As we boarded the airplane to Armenia, I was exhausted but so, so grateful. God was protecting us. God had good things planned for this mission trip.
We pulled into our hotel in Armenia, and there was a rainbow. God is faithful. God could use me, a young woman from the middle of nowhere. This was the trip God wanted me on. He chose to use my heritage, my Spanish, my role as support to ministry leaders at home, and even my youth and ability to run on very little sleep, for His glory. He taught me to trust deeply in His sovereignty and the power of prayer.
From there on out, I rejoined the main team and the trip was fairly smooth. From teens to grandparents, we were a wide variety of ordinary people who were obedient to God’s call, and God chose to use us.
Sunday evening we had a commissioning service for the North Americans, translators, & Colombian believers. We worshipped together. Spanish & English. It’s a beautiful mixing of cultures, and I couldn’t help but think of the mixing of cultures I get to be a part of at my church back at home, too.
Bright and early Monday morning, we launched into ministry in the barrios (neighborhoods)! The first one was called Filandia. We prayed together at the hotel, then split into groups of 4 North Americas + 4 translators + 4-10 Colombian believers per neighborhood.
The strategy begins with prayer walking. Literally walking down every street where we will be sharing, praying out loud as a team. And then, we started knocking on doors. 1 American, 1 Colombian believer, and a translator (if needed) at each house.
We started each conversation by telling people that we were visiting from the US because we love the people of Colombia and wanted to bless them. We asked if we could pray for them. Some people said no. Most welcomed it, and it was an open door to pray and then share the Gospel, using an Evangecube with pictures to follow through the Gospel story.
One of the girls on my small team, Elise, was just 14. She became my special assignment to mentor through the week. Her smile after she led her first person to Christ . . .it was joy unspeakable, both for her, and for me to watch her.
One of my favorite stories from that neighborhood was a sweet young mom and baby. She was a single mom and so hungry for hope. She joyfully accepted Jesus and was excited to plug into the local church. Of course, I though of the many sweet single moms I get to serve and love at my local pregnancy center. God is so good at divine appointments.
I loved the church that we were helping plant for the first 2 days of ministry. They have a main church, and so this was a brand new church plant. Local churches are important there, as transportation is limited and most people walk. It’s one concrete room, with plastic chairs and what we could consider “primitive” furnishings. But God is there.
The next 2 days, we worked in a barrio called “Nueva Armenia”. This neighborhood didn’t yet have a church, but a church in a different neighborhood had started a Bible study in a home that they were praying would lead to a church.
Nueva Armenia was poor, and we all felt a spirit of oppression. We spent a lot of time praying over it. There were a lot of drugs, gangs, and demonic worship in the area.
In spite of the challenge, the ministry was fruitful. I led 5 young gang members to Christ, as well as a store owner, father and son, young man who was visiting the area, 2 young ladies who were home from school, people who invited us into their home, and shared with many, many more who didn’t want to trust Christ right then but still allowed me to pray for them and share the Gospel.
One of my favorite stories from this neighborhood was a man who started crying as soon as I asked if we could pray for him. He openly shared his story of brokenness, depression, regret about past family relationships, and current struggles. Through tears, he trusted Jesus and committed to reading the Bible we gave him. The local church was going to follow up with him. When we passed his house later in the day, he was beaming!
All over the city of Armenia, our teams spread out and shared Jesus with young and old. And God worked.
At the end of the week, we gathered all the contact info and prayer requests of people we’d talked to and gave them to the local churches we’d worked with. We entrusted the new believers to them for discipleship. We gave them Bibles, Evangecubes, and other tools. Those were special moments. They will continue the work.
Before we left, we celebrated together with a victory service. The victory service was a powerful time of worship, testimony, and prayer. Everyone who trusted Christ that week was invited to attend, along with all the Colombian believers we worked with.
During the victory service, we prayed over the new believers. We prayed over the translators. We prayed over the pastors and church members there.It was all Colombian-style prayer. One person prays loudly, and everyone else prays out-loud simultaneously. There’s nothing like it.
Then, they called the American team to the front, and they thanked us and prayed over us. It was such an honor to be there. It seems like such a small thing, going there for a week, but it means so much to them. We didn’t just say we cared about them and were praying for them, we went and worked alongside them. The gift of being present with them says volumes, and builds connections you couldn’t have any other way.
Being in Colombia was a privilege. It’s a beautiful country of beautiful people. I treasure the friendships that were made with the church members, translators, and ministry leaders, as well as with the North American team I got the serve with. Ministry together is bonding like nothing else. It’s a short amount of time, but spent so intensely that you come away with real, deep friendships across the board.
One of the biggest joys of this trip for me was watching the young people on the team grow. Seeing God capture their hearts and light a fire in them was such an honor. James, my 18 year old brother, started the week a bit unsure of himself, and I’m so proud of how he pushed through it, sought counsel, and was sharing passionately by the end of the week.
My roommates were Elise (14), Ella (13), and McKenzie (18). From the beginning, I was assigned to be their “counselor” and mentor (not a role typical to these trips, but a perfect fit for me). It was an absolute joy to watch them grow. Our sharing time and prayer time every evening was so sweet, and this trip was a life-changing experience for each of them.
The next picture is the whole North American team together with their translators. We went by faith, we were supported by prayer, and God worked.
It’s my joy to share with you a few “numbers” from this trip. I know that the angels rejoice over every lost sheep that is found, and the eternal impact of a trip like this cannot be calculated. But still, I am in awe of what God can do when we step out in obedience to Him.
- 25 North Americans
- 51 Church Workers Mobilized
- 8 Barrios (neighborhoods)
- 788 People Heard the Gospel
- 383 People Trusted Christ
Thank you to everyone who prayed and supported me in going to Armenia. God used this trip to grow me, affirm His calling on my life, use me as His vessel to not just share the Gospel but also to disciple youth, and equip me for ministry right here. He reminded me that His timing is perfect, He is capable of working things out beyond my wildest dreams, and He has good things in store for me.
I’m also grateful to be able to come home and continue serving God here. “Big” opportunities for ministry are a gift, but so is serving right where God has planted me in the day-in and day-out of my local church and local pregnancy center. He is faithful to lead and arrange every circumstance for His glory. And I’m honored that He led me on this trip to Armenia, Colombia.