Colombia is situated on the northwest corner of South America and it is the fourth largest country and one of the most populous nations on the continent.Read More
The Christian organisation Youth With A Mission (YWAM) reaches out to people in the village of Palenque, Colombia. It’s almost two hours’ drive away from Cartagena and feels like it’s still set in a previous generation.
The YWAM organiser, Yeison Valencia, explained:
“This community’s history dates from when Spaniards brought black people from Africa to Colombia as slaves. Their ancestors eventually fought against that and fled to set up home in this part of the countryside. To gain acceptance here, we first had to apologise for the sins of the past. Then we felt we should make reparations. There may not be physical chains on the people any longer, but there are spiritual ones. The Lord told us to start a community project, specifically with kids, because we can see they are a good mission field and as we show them the gospel, we can bless their families through them.”
For 12 years, Yeison and his team have run games activitves and taught the Bible in Palenque. The community is traditional; with donkeys carrying goods along dirt roads and many of the basic homes having thatched or tin roofs. YWAM seeks to show God’s love to children for whom abuse is common and whose families are suffering the effects of drug use and mixed worship practices taken from their African heritage.
By helping with a sports club and sharing their personal stories of how God has worked in their lives, a team from Logos Hope was something of an attraction in the village. The international volunteers were from various ethnic backgrounds, which Yeison said was a helpful influence:
“Through this exposure to white people – who were formerly their oppressors – it is important for the kids to see normal relationships across cultures and to feel free to relate as equals. It is also wonderful for them to see people from different parts of the world and realise there is no distinction between black, white, indigenous: we are the same before God and He is bringing healing.”
The ship’s volunteers were shown some of the micro-business ideas the YWAM workers are encouraging in the community, which is reliant on handouts from local authorities. Traditional sweets made from locally-grown fruits and hand-made jewellery are products the Palenque outreach is working to sell more widely; to lift the village out of poverty and give the people self-respect and a more driven attitude of hope and freedom.
“But above all, our hope is that they will know Jesus,” said Yeison. “Please join us in prayer for these children’s future.”
Published: Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Credit: Julie Knox