For several years, it has seemed as if only bad news ever comes out of Colombia. Violence, drug traffic and unemployment have made headlines around the world. But something is happening in Colombia that shows there is hope. People are hungry and thirsty for God. And the transforming power of Jesus Christ is touching this country.
September 28-30, BGEA’s Mi Esperanza project came to help quench the thirst and satisfy the hunger for God in Colombia. More than 300,000 households from among 6,344 participating churches opened their homes to friends and neighbors who needed to hear the Gospel–and more than 704,000 commitments to Jesus Christ have been documented.
A Light of Hope in the South of Bogotá
Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, has a population of more than 10 million. A city full of contrasts, the urbanization of some sectors contrasts with the poverty and the need of others.
The Guaca Duarte family lives in the Tunjuelito neighborhood, in the southern part of the city. In the midst of an area with many family problems, they have risen to show that there is still hope. They came to Christ nine years ago, and their lives were transformed. Now their hearts burn with the desire to see their neighbors and friends born again.
The family prayed and prepared for a month. “I spoke with many neighbors that I did not even know,” said Esperanza Guaca.
The night of the telecast, everything was ready: the refreshments, the room, the TV. At 7:30 the guests began to arrive. Soon, 42 adults and 15 children were listening intently to the message being telecast. Some wiped a tear or two from their eyes. At the end of the program, Yesid Guaca told how God had transformed his life, and he led his guests to receive Christ. In all, 52 people opened their hearts to God.
Among the guests was Pedro Martínez (not his real name), a man who had been involved in illegal activities for 18 years. He used and sold drugs; he stole, and he was part of a gang that sold guns. His illegal actions affected not only him, but also his wife and his four children. A month before the telecasts, Jesus touched his heart. Martinez took his wife, sons and brothers to the Guaca Duarte house so that they too could find the God that was changing him. Nancy, his wife, had sought relief in alcohol. She was touched by the program, and she said that she wants to change. If God can change her husband, she said, He can do the same with her.
The Valley of Sadness
When Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belarcazar reached the Valle de las Tristezas (Valley of Sadness), he never imagined that, centuries later, a hope would come to change the heart of this inhospitable Colombian land.
Neiva, a medium-sized city with a population of 350,000, suffers from many problems. On one side, the national army exerts national sovereignty; on the other side, guerrilla fighters, drug dealers and paramilitary groups try to break the stability of the nation. Potential investors have fled the area, increasing unemployment. But the Church is standing up to give a message of hope.
Twenty-five congregations of different denominations united under the Mi Esperanza banner to reach the city. After watching the Billy Graham and Franklin Graham TV programs, hundreds of people received Christ.
Rolando Cortés Rueda, chairman of the Neiva Huila Gospel Ministers’ Association (AMENH) said that a supernatural unity came on all the pastors of the city. Regardless of their differences, they united to take Mi Esperanza to every corner of the region. “A spirit of evangelism was released in Neiva,” Rueda said.
Franklin Kigman, pastor of the Foursquare Charismatic Church, described the results they saw at their home: “The first night,” he said, “we invited six people to watch the Billy Graham program, and all six accepted the Lord; the second night, we invited eight to watch the Franklin Graham program, and they all accepted Christ. The third night, we invited two neighbors to watch the Road to Redemption film, and both accepted Jesus.”
Pastor Emidio Guzmán, of the Avivamiento en Cristo (Revival in Christ) Church, told how, after training, he organized his church so that each person prayed for seven people: “Only 15 days after that,” he said, “the people we had started to pray for started coming to church. Something unusual and supernatural was happening.”
The Christians of Neiva are thankful. They believe that Neiva will no longer be the Valley of Sadness, but a Valley of Hope where Christ will be the answer.
Reaching the Army and Police
Some years ago, the thought of reaching Colombia’s army and police with the Gospel of Jesus Christ was a dream that seemed nearly impossible. But this dream came true, and Mi Esperanza made a profound impact on the public forces of Huila, in southern Colombia.
For several months, the Pastors’ Association of Neiva, Huila, took the necessary steps to obtain permission to telecast the programs at the facilities of the army and the local police. The door opened, and about 1,300 soldiers and police officers watched the Billy Graham and Franklin Graham programs. More than 700 prayed to receive Christ.
Reaching Bogotá’s Professionals
For years in Colombia, those who believed the Gospel were thought to be illiterate people from the lowest social classes. In recent years, however, things have changed. More and more professionals and businesspeople are acknowledging that they need God. Mi Esperanza was one more opportunity to reach them.
Manuel Lombo is a cardiologist. He has been married for nine years and has three children. His wife, Janeth, is the head of a nursing department. Six years ago, Manuel was born again. Like most Christians in Colombia, the Lombo family was trained to use the broadcasts as an evangelistic outreach. Their neighbors and friends were in their prayers for many months.
The Lombos made a strategic plan for Mi Esperanza. First, they started praying for the people. Then they started greeting and making friends with them, and finally they invited them to their home to watch the program.
The second night of the broadcasts, they invited people who were lifelong friends. “They all were touched by the Lord as they heard Franklin Graham’s message,” Lombo said. He added that at least one of them made a decision for Christ.
Mi Esperanza prepared the way, and thousands of Colombians have come to know the Lord Jesus. After seeing so much bad news, Colombia is seeing the transforming power of the Good News of Jesus Christ.