I’ve been coming here to Colombia, and Cali especially, for 21 years now, this is visit number 79. It truly has become home away from home: MORE home than many homes I’ve had in my life. Those who know me well know my love, passion, and heart for this wonderful country, and, again, more especially this city, Cali, and Tulua, a cit a couple of north.
As I invariably bring teams here, to come and bless people with prayer for all sorts of things: to bring them to ‘drop them in it’ to do things I believe they can do, even if they don’t at the time of asking them (!!) – like preach, pray for the sick: and to get people to experience the atmosphere here, the ‘open heaven’ that almost everyone who comes feels even as they get off the plane…
It’s never been my plan, anywhere, to burden the lovely local Christians here by asking them to accommodate a team: many of Christians are way below the ‘affordable living’ income, and, if I’d spread the team out over various houses over the years, I’d have told each person to give their hosts a sizeable gift towards their keep. What has happened for about the last 12 years, is that I’ve rented short-term apartments, say 3 weeks a time, and everyone has paid their share of the rent. It also means that, logistically, the team are together, which has both a practical and ‘bonding’ benefit. In a city of nightmarish traffic, to pick people up from, say, 4 different houses, could take 2 hours: the same to drop off. Maybe 4 times a day.
I’ve also never wanted to assume that the amazing pastors here would want me back ad nauseum. I’m conscious that the workload on the main pastors I work alongside is big, and to organise a schedule for me and 4 or more others, is no small task. I’ve organised ‘missions’ in the past, and it can be difficult to fit dates/meetings/personnel together. So the rental apartment has worked well, but it’s getting more and more expensive for short term rental in Cali, as more and more businessmen and tourists come here.
What God has been doing this trip I’ve spoken about a bit in previous blogs: there’s an honouring that I feel totally undeserved of, from EVERY church – ones I’ve known a long time, others not so long, and some just recently – all saying stuff that’s brought tears to my eyes, blushing….all wanting me back as soon as possible. The day will come, I feel sure, when I’ll live here: that time, I don’t think, is now, but talking to a senior pastor this morning, it seems to be a right move to find a ‘permanent’ apartment (on a one year rolling rental) that would be my ‘home’ here, provide a permanent base rather than ad hoc apartments every visit, and in which teams could stay when I bring them, which is at least 3 time a year, possibly 4 this year. Paying the same rent as they would for a short term rental apartment, a team of five for 2-3 weeks would cover about 10 weeks rent of a long term apartment.
The local pastors encouragement this trip has been such a blessing. I’ve just heard from Edwin Suarez, whose church I preached in on Thursday. Here’s what he said in Spanish and English:
- Edwin Suarez: Gracias amado pastor le bendecimos y deseamos q la unción del Señor le acompañe por donde quiera q pase, recuerde q esta es su casa su familia su iglesia; le amamos en Cristo gracais por su amor y por su disposición para con esta iglesia, eres una súper bendición. Te esperamos pronto ???
The amazing translation of Edwin’s message above…. Thank you, dear pastor, we bless you and we want the anointing of the Lord to accompany you wherever you go, remember that this is your house your family your church; We love him(you) in Christ, gracais for his(your) love and for his(your) disposition towards this church, you are a super blessing. We’ll see you soon..
It’s been the same in every church: ‘your home, your house, your family. I truly can’t remember a church that I’ve been a member of since this journey began, ‘localised’ in the England in ’79 until ’87, and then international from then, where I’ve known that not only does God seem pleased with my pathetic offering in his name, but the churches do, too. Honour is SUCH a Biblical concept, and I’m only too aware that the shift in dynamic, on this trip, to a place of being more honoured, has been a significant part of this miracle that I’m living through, with my knees…. I want other people to know that place of honour – people who regularly come with me, and who, mostly, are asked after constantly when they’re not here with me for a while. It gives people who come here opportunity to use their gifts and ministries which are so often stifled by church in the UK, not recognised, no room on this or that ‘team’ in their church…. and my belief is that God wants us all to be using what we’ve got, and if I can facilitate – even for a week or three – them having that opportunity, I’m a happy bunny. God wants us prepared and ready: not something that ‘screams’ at you in a lot of churches in the western world.
What’s God saying to me? It seems to be coming clearer, chatting with my dear friend Hein Hoere here today, he agrees that a long term apartment is so much more sensible: he and Teija are planting churches in Bolivia, where they can be 3 months a year, and they have done exactly the same in La Paz, and got a car there, too. It’d mean carrying a lot less luggage every time (!) – and anyone who’s travelled with me knows I don’t travel light…. that’s because I cater for the team, too – with things like extra foreign plug adaptors, plasters, diocalm (!) and laxatives (!!), extension leads, even things like USB cables… I already have some stuff here – from coffee machines to toasters to cutlery to towels to clothes to Spanish Bibles….
And maybe there’s another ‘take’ here that I hadn’t thought of:
Long-time close British friend, and church leader, Graham Coyle, wrote this the other day: Just read your ‘knee healing’ post and struck again by your sense of being so honoured in Cali on this visit. I know you suffer from an ‘honour deficit’ in the UK, and that is not helpful to a full release of your own gift and anointing here (that is not to mention the need for the church here to increase in faith and trust). Anyway, I just had this thought about getting the church there to ‘send’ you as a missionary to the UK I just wondered if it might lead to a greater freedom for you personally.
After 21 years of coming here, it seems that my shelf life/sell by date here hasn’t expired, in fact, just the opposite, so here’s to the next 20 years of seeing God do, through his open heaven, what he does best: and then, best as I can, taking it out of Colombia to other parts of the globe, and seeing God’s kingdom come in France, Sweden, Romania, Autralia, and the many other places filling my ‘pending invitations’ file on my computer….