What are we doing here? | Part 2
We partner with a network of pastors in the southeastern area of Colombia. We are in an area where the terrain is flat and used as farmland at the edge of the Amazon. The Amazon is teaming with some of the most dangerous wildlife in the world, from Panthers and poisonous dart frogs to poisonous snakes and Anacondas.
A cocktail of friendly animals to cuddle with…
To make it even more wonderful there are Guerrilla’s in this area.
Not the animals but rather a group called the ELN. Initially a Marxist-Leninist nationalist movement, it now appears more focused on kidnapping, extortion and attacks on economic infrastructure.
Who in their right mind would go to the southeastern area of Colombia?
From what I know, Americans don’t go there
Not even Colombians
Unless they have land down there, or you’re a Spaniard who has oil rights, or you're a narco who has cattle ranches for money laundering, or you’re part of One ATTA Time
The southeastern part of Colombia is a major area of distribution for us
I spent some time down in that area and I found myself thinking… With all the elements
“What are we doing here?”
There are groups of people who live down in the southeastern part of Colombia that are Native to Colombia. These indigenous people are considered by many in Colombia as half-breeds, barely human, primitive tribes of people.
Our friend and leader, Pastor Jaime, is one of the only pastors that go to these places. His ministry is to these indigenous people. These tribes are run by witch doctors that they call shaman’s. These witch doctors are powerful forces in these communities using healing powers and doing horrifying things to adults and especially children. Things that are so horrendous I don’t feel comfortable typing.
Now Pastor Jaime, who is Native, but no longer lives in a tribal community, goes down to these areas and helps the native people with food, clothing, and our filters.
Why does go? With all the elements of animals, terrorists groups, witch doctors…
Because he loves them
He’s motivated by love
It’s the love that he has received from Christ that propels him to share with those who are seen as lesser in his country.
It’s that kind of leader we look to partner with. One who is willing to go to those who are most in need.
One who has a heart for people
That’s Pastor Jaime, through and through.
An amazing man who exudes love
And he invited us to join him, to visit his native people and see how he distributes the filters
Now… for us Americans, going to those communities would put us in serious risk with the ELN
Luckily we are not stupid (well not too stupid) we don’t go in blind. Rather we are fully covered in every area possible.
We have direct access to the general of the Colombian army. His intel is given to us each day about where we can go so we don’t get caught up with the ELN. Some days we plan on going one way but then we are told by the Army not to… On top of that we have given an amazing Toyota 4x4 vehicle that’s driven by an expert in the terrain, plus Jaime knows the roads like the back of his hand.
All of these things are critical so that we don’t get stuck or lost in a place where there might be Guerrillas.
I’ll be honest, even with all of this danger, I never felt unsafe.
It always felt as though God was with us and we were meant to be there. Granted we are not a group of people who are just going in blind, we take every precaution we can and have been given great resources to protect us.
Which leads us to one of the villages we visited
In this specific village the water source was located at the edge of the Amazon. Every day, multiple times a day, moms and children had to go down to the edge of the Amazon to get their water (mind you this water is contaminated). As we visited this place, the local leader kept sharing how they so badly needed a well.
Because the moms and children subject themselves to the potential danger of the Amazon. So not only do they need clean water, which we came to provide, but they also need access to water source thats safe. Which we did not come to provide.
We have never dug a well before, never really had to do so, as the places we work in already have access to water, it’s just not clean water.
As the leader was sharing I told him we would think about helping him with a well, but for now we are only here to provide filters.
As the day progressed, our driver called a friend who said he could dig a well for $2,000.00. Now that’s a killer deal. Typically a well would cost somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000. But we found a guy who was willing to do it for free and could get the parts at cost.
But again, we didn’t have the funds to make that happen. It was good to know and maybe we can do it in the future. But for now, we didn’t have the budget to make that happen.
And then I got a text
One of our donors texted me,
“He sean, just sent a check for $2,000. Thank you for what you do around the globe!”
I looked at the text and said out loud: “You got to be kidding me”
I then showed my leaders and said,
“looks like we are digging a well”
So by mid July, we were having that well constructed so that they will be able to have access to safe drinking water and filters to make sure the water isn’t contaminated. They no longer have to risk their lives at the edge of the Amazon and they no longer have to worry about their water causing them to get sick.
Now… I love to plan
Maybe you do too
As a planner there are moments where I’m hesitant to cary that plan out in fear that it won’t pan out the way I want it to.
My plans can deter my actions.
But when we take that step of faith and go out and risk it, we begin to see God show up in ways we didn’t anticipate, in ways we didn’t plan… which for me, is a gentle reminder that I’m not in control.
I don’t make the sunrise, I don’t tell where the wind to blow, rather I’m a part of this creation and God is moving in and through it and I can either join in God’s rhythm or push against it with my perceived idea of control.
You feel me?
At the end of my time in the southeastern part of Colombia, I was invited to speak at a conference with 500 pastors
I say the exact number because my ego feels good when I tell others that I speak to a “larger” audience. I’m kidding… or am I? I’ll leave that up for you to assume.
I shared about how God loves them, and encouraged them to not give up.
It was a great time. People were encouraged, I was encouraged, and nobody sent me a nasty email three hours later.
While I was driving back to our hotel room, Pastor Jaime started talking about my sermon and how encouraged he was with what I shared.
He looked over at me and said,
“Sean, Love wins… Every time.”
“That’s interesting that you say that. Pastor Jaime, when you walk into communities that are gripped by evil. Where witch doctors are doing horrible things to children and adults. What is the power that you hold that changes not just the witch doctors but the entire community.”
He replied with all seriousness…
Love wins every time and there is nothing that can stop it.
Not even witch doctors who torture children
I’ve looked at an ex witch doctor in the eyes who has been changed by this love, changed because
to love him
Look, we all have made enemies or look at some as our enemies. But what if we, like Jaime, made a decision to go to those who are our enemies and choose to be kind? To love them?
I bet we’d see the power of God move through us in ways we could never plan…