Do you see yourselves as one church in Metamora, IL helping another church in Barranquilla, Colombia? Or do you see us as one church, Metamora and Barranquilla, together?
-Amanda Falla, a question she asked of MMC
With that question, the difference between true partnership and one church helping another is laid bare. Amanda didn’t mince words that Sunday in 2008. They were interested in a partnership, and so were we.
Since that time we have engaged in a growing relationship with the churches of Barranquilla, Colombia and the Caribbean Coast Region of the Mennonite Church of Colombia.
Our first opportunity to get to know one another better came in the fall of 2008 when MMC sent a delegation to Barranquilla, Colombia to get aquatinted with the churches, the people, the culture and the leaders. That was a fruitful trip as three members of MMC extended the right hand of fellowship to our brothers and sister there as they welcomed us with warm hospitality.
We continue to grow in our relationships, both hosting Gamaliel and Amanda Falla here in Metamora, and most recently, sending a team of 5 people to Barranquilla and Bogota for a 16 day visit.
While the trips are the big events, in many ways, there is also ongoing projects and ways we support the work of church planting.
MMC helps support the ministry of Gamaliel and Amanda Falla, church planters in the Barranquilla area. They are responsible for planting the first Mennonite Church in Barranquilla. Now there are 7 churches in Barranquilla, serving the people there. Much of this is owed to Gamaliel and Amanda’s skill in building up and supporting church leaders. They are both gifted leaders, excellent teachers, and faithful followers of Jesus. A portion of our budget goes to the Falla’s as they direct the work of church planting and church development. They have been our guests at MMC on 4 occasions.
We also support Scot Liwiller who works with youth and young adults from the seven Mennonite Churches in the Barranquilla area. His work involves building relationships and equipping young people to lead in the church. Scott just started his two-year term through Mennonite Mission Network.
In the spirit of “gleaning” – an Old Testament practice whereby farmers would leave some crops in the field for others to gather – we started Coins for Colombia in 2009. Equipping each family with a mission globe, we asked people to put their spare change in the mission banks. Every time there is a 5th Sunday, people bring their mission globes to church. We bring the coins forward during the offering and dump them into a noisy milk can. In 2010, we started directing these funds to the feeding ministries of the churches in Barranquilla.
We pray regularly for the churches in Barranquilla, their people and leaders. If you would like to join us in prayer, please pray for:
- Encuentro de Renovacion in North Barranquilla
- (others coming soon)
From time to time, financial needs arrise that we are able to help meet. The Falla’s keep a careful eye on this, not wanting congregations to become dependent upon outside funding for day-to-day ministry expenses. That said, there are times that material assistance is helpful. For example, we have helped purchase an overhead projector and a keyboard for the churches of Barranquilla to share. Both are used for joint worship events and community outreach events. We have also helped with funds necessary to complete two roofing projects for two area churches. This has allowed both churches to expand their ministries because they have better facilities. Leadership at MMC defers to the wisdom and guidance of the Falla’s when it comes to such projects.
Every two to three years, it’s our goal to send a delegation from Metamora Mennonite Church to Barranquilla, Colombia. The purpose of such visits is to deepen relationships, see their work first hand, participate in the life of the church, encourage our brothers and sisters there, learn from them how to better do ministry here, to be encouraged by them and to give and receive hospitality. We use the word delegation or visit instead of work trip or service trip because our main goal is not to come in a solve a perceived problem for them, but to deepen relationships by learning, listening and sharing ourselves. Our last delegation was in October – November of 2011.
Currently, we have an eye on raising funds to bring a delegation of church leaders here.
Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia
Each year we participate in Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. This is an event that involves worship on Sunday morning and advocacy work on Monday. In truth the policies of the United States of America have been detrimental to the lives of common Colombian families. Problems such as internal displacement, violence, and worker exploitation continue to make Colombia an unstable, if not dangerous, country. American policies, such as the Colombia Free-trade Agreement, have proven to be lucrative for those in power. However, they continue to destabilize the country which leads to much human suffering. During Days of Prayer and Action we seek to connect our following of Jesus with our compassion for the people of Colombia through prayer and tangible actions. Last year (2011) our focus was on lobbying our congressman, Aaron Schock, on behalf of the Colombian people, urging him not to sign the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
While there are many good things to be involved in around the world, we felt we had a choice to make. Do we want to do a lot of things half-way or do we want to focus on one partnership and go “all in”! We decided to go “all in” in our relationships with the churches in Barranquilla, Colombia!
- Pastor Michael Danner