If you’ve read the posts here for some time, you might remember that in October 2016, I took a team to Cali, Colombia primarily to restore a house, in a very tough and dangerous area, to be used by a wonderful street kid’s ministry, headed up by Ophthalmic Surgeon Dr Ana Elisa Bustos Gomez. Ana Elisa – then – had 150 kids she looked after a number of days a week (in case you’re wondering, she generally works a 21 hour day! 100% true!), and funded the feeding, clothing, medical attention, and so on, our of her own salary – which is small even as a surgeon.
As well as the kids, she also cared for and fed around 40 adult street sleepers, also self-funded. Ana Elisa desperately needed a house where she could gather the kids together – to feed them, teach them – educational and Christian, teach them a skill/trade, clothe them: somewhere where she could prepare food for almost 200 people (she did it all in her apartment in her lunch break). She found a house in a barrio known as Popular: I’d got a team of 6 with me (including me, so where building was concerned, I’d got a team of 5! – I’m probably the world’s most unpractical man!), headed up by my good friend Thanney Pyper. The first day we were there, much to his devastation, he had to condemn it – the foundations had been washed away by raw sewage, there were no pipes connecting the toilets to the sewers, they just emptied into the foundations….
The need for such accommodation is vital, urgent. Really small children are forcefully drugged by drug cartel members, generally cocaine, from which moment they’re addicts, and used by the cartels as ‘mules’, delivery boys/girls to take drugs to ‘clients’, and their lives are destroyed from a very early age. We’d love to build dozens of safe houses as there are countless street kids for whom this life is their future. When we had to condemn that first house, we made a commitment, 20 months ago, that we’d find somewhere to build / convert to accommodate loads of kids, as the thought of thousands of kids destroyed by cocaine, is too much to bear. Colombia’s economy is improving a great deal, and these kids have a future if they can be educated, taught English, taught a trade, etc., and not turned into addicted zombies…..
Seven weeks ago, I went to Cali, with friends Ian and Jeff, from the USA, and we found a house that would seem to be ideal. It’s big – 30 ft (10 mt) wide, and 80 feet (25 mt) deep: and, while at the moment, it is 2 storeys at the front (30 x 20 ft), the whole house is convertible to three storeys front to back. I was going out again to Cali, with Thanney, this week, for the expert builder to assess it, and begin work on it, God willing. What’s more,it is only about 800 yards from the house that was condemned 21 months ago (thank you Lord – perfect positioning!), and the owners are very excited that we want to improve the quality of life in their area, and take so many street kids off of the streets.
The joy of knowing that the house will ‘rescue’ several hundred children at extreme risk, and provide facilities for many street adults to eat, shower, do laundry, is just so rewarding. We had a real sense that God is ‘in’ this house, as it is in pretty good condition as it stands: much better condition when Thanney has worked his genius on it. AND it is for sale at a crazy price bearing in mind that the Colombian economy is improving so rapidly. The ‘condemned’ house would have cost around 200,000,000 (200 million) pesos THEN, and needed demolishing before anything could begin to be built. This one – again because the owners are happy – is 148,000,000 (148 thousand) pesos – £38,000, US$48,000, Euros 45,000, AU$70,000. Please pray for Thanney as he flies out tomorrow (Friday 6th July) to assess/estimate what can be done with the house, and what it will cost to transform it.
To see Ana’s face when she knew we were interested in the house, and would do everything in our power to acquire it, was such a blessing. Though she’s a doctor (and most of her salary goes on street kids and street people), her life is really given over to saving and helping street kids and people. She loves them with a passion. Her daughters want to help a day week – one is a doctor, one is a dentist, so the kids will have good medical and dental care free.
This house really IS an answer to prayer: please pray for Thanney, the finances for the building, real wisdom for Thanney as he ‘redesigns’ the house, and then dons his ‘quantity surveyor’ hat to work out the cost of the renovation. We’d so covet our prayers.