Spent a good part of today with my lovely mate, Edwin: he’s Colombian, but lived in the USA for over 20 years, before being…er…unwillingly repatriated to Colombia 16 years ago! Many of the best translators here are ex-convicts from the really ‘bad old days’ of Colombian history, but all, like Edwin, are the proof of grace, and redemption, that God reaches into prisons, gangs, drug cartels, and far worse (more of that in a minute!). Edwin is a rap artist, but a preacher/evangelist with it, and he reaches communities that other more conservative Christians won’t ever reach. We’ve been friends now for a while, and he’s translated for me in meetings – what makes him even better to be around is that – somehow – he’s understood British humour, and language! Even calls us ‘mate’, which is very un-American, certainly un-Colombian. And knows ‘toodle-do’ and ‘toodle-pip’, as well, which we all use in the UK all the time of course!
Edwin is a testimony to redemption: from a violent gang history in the USA, he’s now got such a passion for God. Spent time today, too, with his brother, Alex: even MORE a story of redemption and grace! Alex was a back to back cocaine-heroin user – one to get him high, the other to take the high away: then back to the high. He had months where his only ‘intake’ was coke, heroin, and water. As a result, he’s left with really bad residual bronchial and pulmonary condition that doesn’t seem to be diagnoseable. God has saved his life literally seven times, including a 100 kilometre/hour crash head on on his motor bike some months back…. so it would seem God’s plan for his life isn’t over by any means! Alan, Barbara, and I had a wonderful time praying for him, and a lot of time just wanting to ‘bless’ Edwin, Alex, and Alex’s girlfriend, Carolina. In his npt-so-past life, prior to becoming a Christian, in the States Alex was jailed for attempted murder, given 45 years, but – God’s hand on his life – ended up being repatriated to Colombia like his younger brother. Here, for a time, he was one of the siccarios, the ‘cheap’ hired motorbike killers…. He, like Edwin, is radical and passionate for Jesus now… so a mighty joy to pray for them both!
Tomorrow, Alan & Barbara are at the church ‘El Abrigo’, pastored by my amazing – our amazing – friend, Wilmar Gomez, and his lovely wife Marlene. It’s fantastic that Alan is preaching there, and Barbara’s all geared to give her testimony of miraculous healing, 5¾ years ago, in Bangor, from chronic osteoarthritic knees. First, that church heard ME tell their story, then they’ve heard Alan give their testimony, now, they’re going to have the recipient of the miracle tell her own story!
I’m at a church in the north, pastored by my friend Francisco: last time I was here, we had a wonderful time together, so looking forward to a repeat tomorrow.
Most evenings are filled now, and next Sunday: but there’s plenty of time for Barbara to get to enjoy this wonderful city, too, and people, like with Wilmar and Marlene Monday, Ana Beiba, the kids Foundation from El Abrigo (El Abrigo el Altisimo’ means ‘Shadow of the Almighty’)and others…. So, we’re off: gentle start, but after the nightmare journeys, probably a good thing!