Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 24, 2012

Answer to Their Prayers

Barranquilla, Colombia

My Colombian-born friend Jorge Cardenas is no stranger to the Kingsland staff. Jorge is the pastor of Iglesia Sobre la Roca, located just down the street from Kingsland. Over the past several years we have formed a special bond with Pastor Jorge and his church family. And, for the past several years he has repeatedly asked me to join him on a trip to his native country to see how our churches can partner in the education of the poorest children. Finally, I am in Colombia with Jorge and delighted to have him show me the good work that is taking place here — work that is making a difference by empowering children and transforming families.

We arrived yesterday in Cartagena de Indias, a city founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, a Spanish conquistador. Located on the Caribbean coast, this city became the main Spanish port as well as the major gateway to South America. Today, visitors to the city are greeted by Las Murallas, a centuries-old 13-kilometer stretch of thick walls built to protect the city from its enemies. The Ciudad Antigua, or Cartagena’s old town, is located within Las Murallas and is a Unesco World Heritage site. The Ciudad Antigua is characterized by narrow cobbled streets, quaint balconies, and massive churches that cast their shadows across colonial plazas. It’s a beautiful place that stirs your imagination.

This morning we traveled a 120-kilometer stretch of the Via al Mar between Cartagena and Barranquilla. This well-maintained highway follows the coast between these two cities. Baranquilla, founded in 1629, is an industrial port and Colombia’s fourth largest city. I love what the Lonely Planet travel guide says about Barranquilla: “There are few tourist attractions and little reason to visit…” Those are the kind of places that appeal to me. And, I am even more interested in this city after our visit to the school operated by CDA — Corporación Dios es Amor — a Christian organization founded by a New Zealand missionary. They are providing the children of the poorest of the poor with the opportunity to get an education and to develop a Christian worldview. Jorge’s son, a former Houston ISD school principal, returned to Colombia and joined the CDA staff.

This morning we visited the families of three of the children enrolled in the school. I am very acquainted with poverty and therefore was not surprised by the horrible living conditions around the school in Barranquilla. But, what makes things different here is the hope that these parents have for their kids. I met one grandmother who is caring for her only granddaughter. Her home was the worst of those we visited. “It’s staying up by the grace of God,” she told us. And she was right! It’s only a matter of time before her tiny hovel crashes in around her. This grandmother started a little business selling chips and candy in order to pay the modest monthly tuition for her granddaughter who is an excellent student. Before we left I took their picture in front of a sheet metal door in their home painted with the words “Jehová es mi pastor; nada me faltarᔓThe Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” This woman knows the meaning of those words. She trusts God daily to help her keep her granddaughter in school.

Our time at the school, in the surrounding slum neighborhoods, and with the faculty touched my heart. The teachers earn the equivalent of about $300 dollars per month to teach children in concrete block rooms with no fans or air-conditioning. They do it because they love God and they love the kids under their care. These kids will have a possibility of a better future because of the vision of a man from New Zealand (now deceased) and those who continue to carry out his legacy of caring for the poor with dignity and love. As we drove back to Cartagena this afternoon, all I could do was to think about and pray for the teachers and kids I met. I am seeking God about how our missions ministry can be an answer to their prayers.


Responses

  1. I am so happy you are there Omar. I visited the school and surrounding neighborhood in October with CDA and Jorge Jr. We are also looking at how we can help. Blessings.

  2. Omar, I too visited Cartagena and CDA in October along with Matt. I’m a member of Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land TX and this trip was largely to take our missions pastor, Don Waybright, and a few others to explore what Orphan Hope is doing there. Sugar Creek has subsequently decided to support not only our ministry but is also engaged in strategic discussion with CDA. You may know Don but just in case I’ll send an email to him introducing the two of you. Thanks for all you do.

    • Good news, Shoby. Yes, I have met Don and am grateful for his leadership in missions at Sugar Creek and for his influence in our community and beyond.

  3. Pastor Omar,

    Thank God for you and your heart. It is my firm conviction that because Jorge is in our community, we must pray diligently about helping his people in Baranquilla. I know we can’t “fix” the world, and I know that I personally need to be “fixed” so that I could smile like that beautiful grandmother living in her conditions. I will surely pray with you.

  4. Great citizen people had came out from these abroad ministries…. Keep it up Pastor. God will provide always for His children!!!!
    Blessings

    • Amen, Carlos. I look forward to seeing you in El Salvador in February as we work together to drill another water well.


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