Colombia – a country of extremes

 On 13th January 2010, a four man team from Divine Healing Ministries, led by Brother David Jardine, set off on their second visit to Colombia. The invitation had come from Pastor Hendrik Hoere, Pastor of the Abrigio Del Altimisso (Shelter of the most high) church in Cali, which sits about 4,000 feet above sea level in the South West. It is known as the ‘city of the three crosses’ because of the 3 white stone crosses erected on an overlooking mountain by the Catholic church to counteract the curse placed on the city during the Spanish occupation. This visit is part of a growing relationship between the church and Divine healing ministries with two trips each now completed by the Colombian and Northern Ireland teams.

The Belfast team undertook a schedule of speaking (through interpreters) on various aspects of Healing. We had the honour of conducting the opening service in the new premises of the church; the theme was ‘receiving God’s healing’, and was followed by prayer ministry. The team knew from experience this could last some time, and were astounded as some 30 people came to faith, many of them led personally to Jesus by the team.   That was the start of an exiting period of ministry, we spoke on the themes of ‘Trusting god in the hard times’,  ‘Forgiveness’, ‘Healing the hurts of the past’, ‘Bereavement’ and ‘Confession’. 

Cali is a city of paradoxes, parts can be very dangerous, the pastor had been robbed at gunpoint and another member at knifepoint in the preceding weeks, yet like Belfast the people possess a happy disposition, a great sense of humour and generosity. Poverty is only too apparent, and the threat of economic hardship was reflected in the numerous requests for prayer for financial provision, not prosperity but basic survival.

 The team coped well with 35 degrees of  heat every day, if not so well at night and especially not with the giant cockroaches which scuttled from your path on nocturnal trips to the bathroom. Yet the biggest restriction was not being able to venture out without the company of a local, yet the team which consisted of Bro David, Stuart Gibson, Paul Shields and myself, were used to this as all except Stuart had been on the previous team in 2008.

 Other engagements in churches were very rewarding and we visited two different children’s foundations, one works with children of drug addicts, whose members also venture into the Amazon to try and win the Indian tribes for Jesus. The second foundation belongs to the host church and is based in a very poor area. Probably the only disappointment was that due to the increased risk following the Christmas festivals we could not return to churches we had visited in 2008 because they were located in poor areas and the threat was felt to be too high. Nevertheless the second Thursday saw a visit to a drug rehabilitation unit and a small church, both of which have not had foreign visitors since our last visit in 2008. At the other end of the spectrum we visited a large church housed in an old cinema, whose pastor had a vision some years ago that their church would host many foreign visitors, and he hoped this was the start of that being fulfilled.

 Many people called to the house we were staying in for prayer and we saw almost immediate answers. Brother David prayed for two infants with very high temperatures, with the mothers reporting within half an hour that the fever had gone.

 The team also participated in an exercise in a different part of the city giving out leaflets in the proximity of a large shopping mall, advertising a service on the last Sunday in a room hired in the centre. The highlight was the amazing sight of people receiving prayer in the street with 4 people coming to faith in this exercise. We even had the nerve to ask a policeman, who said he would love prayer but as he was on duty he had to decline. The service itself was attended by well over 100 people and what was interesting was that in a survey conducted by the host church’s follow up team, it appeared that over 90 % attended because of the leaflet drop.

 At the end of the trip they estimated around 150 people had come to faith. It is hard to understand this, as it would take a long time in our culture to see this kind of response. One factor certainly is the dependence on God, in a society where there is no economic safety net, people do not have the material comforts that we do and those that have, know it can change overnight. When a business fails it can mean you are literally on the street. It was such an exciting trip that the relationship between the church in Northern Ireland and the church in Colombia is only going to grow stronger.