Sunday was a long day for all of us. We left at 7:00 for the long drive to Tulua, (pronounced Tool-waa), about a two and a half hour drive to the north. We stopped for breakfast, which included arepa, a tasteless flour based disc that reminds me of a cross between blotting paper and chewing gum.
We had two meetings in the morning. The two Pauls went to one and saw many people healed, including a young child with flat feet whose arches formed as they were praying! Brian and I went to a church I visited last year, Brian spoke well and we also saw many conditions healed by Jesus. Two old ladies with long term arthritic hands and wrists both gave testimony that God had healed them. As far as I am aware, I had never prayed for anyone with a shoulder problem before, but in this meeting alone I prayed for four…. which takes me back to a question I posed a few days ago: why does a particular condition repeat itself so often in a church?
Lunch time was a local cafe, where we all had a starter of chicken soup with no chicken in it, then either a tasty beef steak or a pork one with cherry sauce, plus rice and a drink. To spice up the rice, I put on a liberal splash of a sauce that said salsa, which turned out to be off the end of the scale at Nandos. The total bill was 88000 pesos for 11 of us, or about £2.10 each. In the UK, the drink alone would be more expensive.
Then we all went to a drugs rehabilitation centre to each share a quick testimony and pray for the residents and the team. We were just about finished, when the last person in my line came for prayer, and I felt I needed to look her directly in the eyes and say that Jesus saw her as a beautiful woman. Even before the translator had got to work, her face was contorted, grimacing and snarling at me. Later on she started retching and at one point looked like she was going to flatten me! Fifteen or so minutes later, where at times I believe she was cursing in Spanish (my translator kept quiet at this point) she had received a large measure of freedom and peace, but like with all of these things, she will need time to work out her healing.
In the evening, we went to yet another pair of churches. I stayed with Brian, with me speaking this time, but the prayer time was very difficult. The worship team decided to play every loud song in their catalogue and the pastor decided that he wanted to pray over the top of the music – way over the top of it! We were under time pressure and the whole experience was rather underwhelming.
So a day that started amazingly well, ended, for me at least, rather disappointingly. If I hadn’t known what was coming up on Tuesday, I would happily have given up at this point – a seventeen hour day, with frustration at the end of it.
Monday was a quiet day. We spent the morning shopping for up to 25 guests for a pizza evening, though finding some disposable plates and cups proved impossible. In the afternoon, Paul G, Brian and I were picked up by William Castano, who took us to his lovely home, where we met his son Christian who plays football for the youth team of Deportivo – in a two team city, they are the Glasgow Celtic of Cali, one league above their traditional rivals who have been humbled following financial irregularities.
William is a humble, honourable man, and a well respected theologian. He has recently written a book on God transforming people, churches and nations. He gave us all a signed copy of his book with a scripture for each one of us. We were also fed, when some friends of his, a chef and his wife, brought round some lovely Colombian delicacies. Wilmar joined us then we all went to another drug rehabilitation centre which is based at the former home of the Rodriguez brothers, who before their incarceration used to head up Colombia’s second largest drugs cartel.
We prayed for the team and the residents as a group, with a promise to return later on to pray for individuals. Sadly, this will be after my departure on Thursday afternoon.
Tuesday’s amazing report is still to follow, but as Wilmar is about to pick us up to pray at someone’s home, I will have to stop there. Later today we are off to feed some of the homeless of the city, and this evening we have two meetings.