There are now words to adequately express our feeling for this day. I guess to start, however, I might try “phenomenal,” “Extraordinary,” or “WOW!!!”
Of course we started the day off with breakfast which consisted of a cup of cafe con leche, a glass of orange juice, some sausage, and some beans and rice.
Then, Cheri, Doug, and I headed to the Foursquare Church's sanctuary in the former cinema downtown for round two of our three days of Pastors’ Conferences. After having gotten off to a good start yesterday, the crowd more than tripled today with about 150 in attendance. While more were expected, I must say that this was one hungry and responsive group of pastors and wives. What is truly wonderful is that Cheri and I are ministering to them regarding integrity and ethics … and they are eating this stuff up. What else is really cool is that these men and women are just from Medellin and the surrounding area … and they are seeking unity and anointing for their city and for the Kingdom of God.
I spoke in the first session regarding the importance of trusting the Holy Spirit in our defense of the Gospel … that we should prepare and that we should know of that which we speak … but that we must allow for the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us and to speak through us.
The second session, I also spoke regarding “What Kind of King are You” as I unveiled three biblical Kings, Saul, David, and Absalom, then presented characteristics of each, then challenged the pastors to see which traits of these kings most closely resembled those personal traits of their own. It was a very moving time together as these men and women were deeply challenged and were noticeably moved with introspection and repentance.
After a brief break, Cheri spoke regarding “10 things Pastors’ wives most need from their husbands.” She started off with a brief game similar to the Newlywed Game and immediately gained the attention of her audience by doing so. Again, many were deeply challenged and even asked for copies of her notes and for tapes so that they could share with their congregations in a modified form.
The last session witnessed me teaching this congregation regarding the power and necessity of personal forgiveness. One of my main thrusts was that while forgiveness DOES liberate the one whom we are forgiving, it even more so liberates us who are the forgivers. The challenge went forth to the pastors that they needed to have a place for forgiveness in the own hearts, perhaps even toward another pastor in the room. A great move took place as that very thing took place before our very eyes.
I think that I am most amazed at the receptivity of our audiences. They are simply soaking in everything we are saying. While I take great joy in that fact, I also am deeply challenged with the importance of delivering the pure Word of God to them.
After these sessions, we all gathered in the lobby and had great fellowship. It was wonderful to be there with our friends from Palabra, Pan, y Paz as they had opportunity to share their new project at Mi Casa Azul with all of these pastors.
We then went to a restaurant which specializes in Columbian Coastal Cuisine. I am not sure what kind of fish I had but it was absolutely delicious. (And yes, it still had the head and the eyes on it. Hopefully as I update these blogs a little when we get home, I will post a picture of my fish.) We also had this delicious coconut rice and a smashed banana-bread mixture called a patacone. And of course, the ensalada was fantastic as well as it featured finely cut greens and cantaloupe, papaya, and other fruits. This was all accompanied by a wonderful glass of guanabana con leche and cafe con leche.
Here we ate with the Medellin board of Christ for the City International. We loved seeing their spirits and witnessing their welcome. WE were made to feel at home. In fact, Pastor Pedro shared his dessert with me. He will never know the significance of that to me BUT, at home, only family shares food together (and yes, I mean eating after one another.) And when Pedro shared his dessert with me, I felt like family. I was awed.
We rested on this hot afternoon in our hotel room for a couple of hours as we also prepared for service tonight.
And this is where it really got good.
The church was a Centre de Fey in Ballo and was awesome. There must have been close to 1,000 people in attendance. (In fact, it was really hard to tell because the congregation poured out into the streets and people were standing all over the place … so I am suggesting 1,000 in the building and I have no idea how many were standing outside and listening.) I do know that there were people taking pictures of Cheri and me and that some were standing and recording us on their cell phones and cameras. Wow, there was such an awesome hunger for God’s Word. I spoke in Offering our Talents back to God and using them for His service and you again could physically see that hunger, the challenge, and the acceptance among the people. In fact, I was amazed at how many came to me afterwards and, in their broken English and in Spanish were telling me how this message was just for them. Another WOW moment was when more than 80 people gave their lives to Christ tonight. I gave the altar call and led them in a sinner’s prayer, and then turned them over the the pastor who prayed with them and sent them to a follow-up room with counselors. WOW.
But perhaps even more WOWing to me was the overflow into the streets of this congregation. You literally could not drive a car through the streets after church because the people were partying and singing the praises of God IN THE STREETS of Ballo. It was awesome. And they all had to have their picture made with these white people. Even little girls would come up to Cheri and me just to touch us, have us pray for them, and to kiss them on the cheek (and them kiss us.) I don’t know when I last felt so loved.
I reminded the congregation … and I reminded myself: we love Colombia. We love the land; we love the flora, and we love the fauna … but most of all, we love the people. This was an awesome night and we are overjoyed at what we have seen God do.