The mission to the city of Cali in Colombia during the month of March was my fourth visit to that country.  Our hosts are always Pastor Hendrik Hoere and his wife Teijia. Hendrik is Dutch and Teijia is from Finland.  They met at Bible College in England.  Without knowing anything about Colombia Hendrik felt called to go and work there.  That was twenty-five years ago.  Conditions were rough in those days and the country was dangerous.  It still is.  There are between 15 and 20 people killed every day in Cali and between 100 and 200 every weekend.  It is one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  When we go there on mission we only do what the local people tell us to do, and we never go out unaccompanied.

There were three other members of our team this year – Paul Shields from West Church in Bangor, Stuart Gibson from the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast and Philip McKee from 1st Newtownards Presbyterian Church.  One of Philip’s gifts is offering to pray with people on the streets. On the Saturday morning, while we were conducting a seminar in a church, Philip went out on the streets with a member of the local congregation.  Two hours later he came back to tell us that he had prayed with 40 – 50 people.  Only 4 had turned down the offer of a prayer.

Right from the beginning of the journey to Colombia Philip was praying with people in public places.  In the airport at Heathrow, as we waited for the flight to Miami, one of our fellow passengers was the singer Lulu.  She signed a lovely message to the team, and then Philip asked her if she would like a prayer, to which she replied ‘I would love a prayer’.  When Philip had finished Lulu said ‘Hallelujah!’ That started off a 20 minute conversation with Lulu on God, love, forgiveness, prayer and meditation.

We knew when we were in Colombia that we were surrounded by a volume of prayer back in Ireland. We needed that. We were working in 100ᵒ of heat, and were often asked to speak in public at short notice.  The team were an excellent team, all able to speak very effectively in public, but I think that volume of prayer made the mission a wonderful success.  We all felt a great anointing of the Holy Spirit every time we got up to speak.

I have felt for many years now that if you go to minister in another country you are not going to make much of an impact if you do not come to love the people.  The people of Colombia treat us so well that they are not difficult to love.  Pastor Hendrik says they are the most friendly people he has ever met in his life.  He also says that they are not people with a critical spirit.  They always see something good even in the most difficult or disappointing situation.  Maybe in Northern Ireland we could learn something from this outlook on life.

If you were to ask me what is the most important lesson I learnt on this trip to Colombia I would probably say that the Lord showed me again how important it is to allow Him to be in control.  Out of all the churches we ministered in, almost 20 I am sure, the three which made the biggest impact were where the pastor was able to allow the Lord to be in charge.  Two of the pastors were men, the other was an 85 year old lady called Pastor Fanny.  All were vibrant when they spoke or prayed in public, but all of them had the gift of being able to let go and allow other people to come to the fore.  Is that the secret in our personal lives and in our ministries? Knowing how to let go and allow the Lord to be in charge.

This mission to Colombia by Divine Healing Ministries unquestionable deepened the relationship between our ministry and the Church in Cali.  We now look forward to Pastor Hendrik’s annual visit to Northern Ireland from June 25 until July 2.