I was expecting today to be simple. We were just going out to visit a home in the community to get an idea of what poverty looked like here in Bogota. I have been to a lot of churches and projects over my 16 years with Compassion, but today, at 10,400 feet in Bogota, Columbia, I found myself challenged and in one of the most inspiring places I have ever been.
My group had gone out to visit a home, and once we had said our goodbyes, we decided to stop into the church project just to check it out while we waited for the other half of our group.
I found out that this project has 320 children registered with Compassion, but the needs in the community were so great that the church provides two meals a day to 600 children. At that point, I began asking the young Columbian girl, who had been our gracious hostess, some serious questions.
Me: “How do you pay for all of those meals?”
Her: “By faith.”
Me: “This facility is amazing with all the classrooms, the kitchen and feeding area, and the new classrooms you are building. How have you paid for all of this?”
Her: “By faith.”
Me: “So what do you do here at the project?”
Her: “I am the pastor.”
Me: “What? Hey translator, can you help me? I want to know what this young girl does at the project and I think she misunderstood my question.”
Translator: “She is the pastor.”
23-year-old Paula, is the pastor of this remarkable church. Another girl named Haiti is the project director and is only 24 years old. These young ladies are changing the world for 600 children!!
11 years ago, Paula’s dad started this church. At 12 years old, Paula fell in love with ministering to the poor children of her community. Her father has gone on to start three other churches in the community. On Sunday’s, all four churches come together at one place for worship and teaching, but the rest of the week, this particular church is Paula’s responsibility. I don’t know the details of how it all works, and what kind of supervision her dad provides as the lead pastor of all the churches, but what I do know is that Paula and her friends are changing the world!
The mind-blowing thing to me was as I stared at this young girl in shock and some disbelief, I heard in my heart, “Why are you so surprised, your girls are just as capable as Paula?” It humbled me.
For years, my daughters have had an amazing ministry to poor children in our community at New Life Church/Lord’s Gym in Vancouver, WA. It is obvious to us that God has gifted them to be able to care for and love very difficult kids. Some of those kids drive me crazy, but my girls are kid magnets. The tougher the kids, the more my kids are drawn to them.
Our kids have followed Patricia and me to church and supported us in OUR ministry. We do the music thing on Sunday mornings and they help us carry in our gear, clean up the cables after church, and encourage us in our giftings. While we are doing our ministry, they go off and do theirs. They help in the children’s church. They help with the crafts, they give the kids snacks, they teach the lesson sometimes, and they show love to some tough kids.
Today I started thinking, if I see these giftings in my girls, how do I inspire them to do even greater things for The Kingdom? We spend so much time thinking about what we want in a church and how we want to minister in a church, but how much weight am I giving to the ministry that my own children have? How can I encourage and support them in THEIR ministry?
I don’t know, I don’t have any answers, but my thinking was seriously challenged today as I saw these amazing young ladies with a huge calling on their life and making a major impact in their communities. Paula and Haiti inspired me and reminded me of what my girls are capable of. There are no age limits in the Kingdom of God.
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finally sat down to read this, gives a whole new meaning to the “awe” i saw in you for those few days after meeting her, you and patricia are raising these kind of girls!!! isabel’s video ministered to me this am!
Steve and I need to have you and your family over soon for some dinner! Would love to chat!
I am so glad you caught the specifics of Paula… all I had caught were the amazing basics. She is one of many I will “take home” with me – not only to show others, but to aspire to do better myself!
Steve: Meeting Paula was amazing. I wish more young people back in the States could hear her story and realize they could really do something that matters with their lives even in their 20s. Thanks for capturing this experience so well.
Thanks for sharing that experience with us. Can’t wait to hear more!
Thanks to both you and Patricia for sharing your thoughts…they are truly helping stretch me as well!
You say your thinking was “seriously challenged today” … and now you (and Patricia’s last post) have seriously challenged my thinking! I just got back from Nicaragua and saw Kaelee in a new light… I need to provide her with more opportunities to step up and serve … both at home and in our church and community. Thanks man!
Right on, Steve! (But Marc beat me to it I see.)
Steve, an excellent and thought-provoking post.