When, on a constant basis, you experience God’s promises happening, and doing so much more ‘behind the scenes’ in order to fulfil them, it’s an indescribable privilege to be at the sharp end of seeing God do incredible deeds. With a team of not-so-fit people – Thanney a hand short (broken left hand), Johnny a prolapsed disc and trapped sciatic nerve – the kid’s foundation building accelerated away to completion with three hands among the team who were building: Dennis not so long ago had a hip replacement, Cathy with an under-active thyroid, and yours truly – two days before we flew out, I couldn’t walk, and had to think twice about meeting up with Thanney at Starbucks half a mile away! Simon, who came for the last week, seemed to be the only one who was complete!
Thanney’s said that he’d never have got that building completed in the UK and that with all the frustrations of trying to get materials and contracted workmen to arrive when expected in Colombia! – in the same time-frame as it was completed in El Vallado, Cali… actual building time well less than 8 weeks. And if you’ve seen it, you’ll see how amazing it looks…. God multiplied the work of three hands and a crocked back – and, in fact, improved Johnny’s back visibly significantly. He stretched money, time, patience, ‘negotiated’ deals with local companies that would never normally happen in Colombia…. like the air conditioning company suggesting that they’d reduce the cost of two units by 1,400,000 pesos (£400, $500, 450 euros) and instead of 16BTU units, supplying 24BTU units – much more appropriate in a building that size but Thanney had insulated the place so that 16BTU would have been ok…. it was a real blessing.
Money stretched, though we ended up a bit short of our £55,000 budget, when the final bills came in, Thanney and Johnny worked like trojans, frequently – more than frequently! – up and down a narrow somewhat precarious steel staircase on the outside of the building, carrying tons of rubble, and bearing in mind Johnny’s back, that was a miracle.
Countless miracles and healings in churches, quite a few documented in earlier blogs, posts on Facebook… covered everything from the ‘ordinary’ to terminal illness, wonderful responses from churches, new relationships and connections made – even after 21 years of going to Cali – listening again to the incredible miracle testimony of the pastor of the church, El Vive, Dario, who should have died three years ago, but is very much alive after being prayed for….
I could go through the programme for the trip all over again – fantastic churches, wonderful pastors, amazing people – if there’s a more friendly, all-embracing, nation of loving people, I haven’t found one. And to have the privilege of being blessed by people who live in such poverty is a blessing from God: and to try and bless them, well, it’s such a blessing. We took one pastor and his family out for a meal – this would be a couple in their late 30’s maybe early 40’s – to the steak restaurant (it’s cheap – to us – there) – and to have said to you, ‘Thank you, Paul, we’ve NEVER had a meal like this in our lives, never eaten steak before’ – a couple who can’t afford less than 40 pence for very ordinary but good yoghurt for their son….
God has wonderful ways of fulfilling your dreams, too, as Thanney has discovered with the foundation, and for Dennis, who ‘struggles’ normally with hot temperatures, going to Cali (normally 35C in the afternoons, and rarely less than 22C at 4 in the morning, was a step of faith – and God gave him the coolest two weeks I’ve ever experienced in the city!
Now, I’m already working on teams and final dates for Cali teams for 2018: it’s the sort of place that’s like a magnet, and for me, the moment I leave, I can feel it pulling me back again!