Winfrees Going South

The Body of Christ

We are so privileged to be working with the church here in Colombia.  The denomination that we are working with is Iglesia Reformada Evangelia Presbiteriana (IREP).  It is a small denomination, but the Lord is working through it in wonderful ways.  There are churches in Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Cucuta, and a few other places.  Most of our work is with the churches here in Bogotá, but we have had the privilege of also working closely with the churches in Bucaramanga.  Last year we spent several days in Bucaramanga training potential leaders in the church and their wives.  It was a great time and we were able to develop some great relationships with the church there.

DSC_0070-2John Sandoval and Andrés Suárez are the pastors of the two churches in Bucaramanga.  Recently they finished all of the work and exams needed for their ordination so many from our team went in January for their services of ordination.  We had a great time seeing how the Lord has continued to work in the churches there and seeing the joy in the faces of the church members as their pastors were ordained.  I (Ambrose) was able to take part in the ordination as aDSC_0037 visiting pastor (I am there, but a bit hidden behind the guy in the yellow shirt).  These churches are growing and they are starting to plant a new church in a neighbouring town.  Each pastor had his own ordination service (John in the morning and Andrés in the afternoon).  The last part of each service was the Lord’s Supper where each pastor was able to serve communion for the first DSC_0146time.  That evening we had a huge dinner where both churches gathered together to celebrate the ordinations.  Becky and I have grown to love John and Andrés and we look forward to continuing to work with them over the coming years.  They are solid in so many ways.  They love the Lord Jesus; they love the truth; they love the people of God; and they love their city.

P1000314After the ordinations some of us travelled through the Chicamocha Canyon to the town of Barichara.  Much of the time that we are in Bogotá we forget that we are in South America.  Yes, everyone is speaking P1000322Spanish, but it is a big city.  However, we always love to travel outside the city and really get to see the rest of this incredible country.  Many say that Barichara is the most beautiful town in Colombia.  I don’t know if that is true, but it certainly is beautiful.  The town was very quiet on the day that we visited, but we enjoyed the tranquility and beauty.

Becky and some of the others returned to Bucaramanga that afternoon and then on to Bogotá, I went to a small camp to meet with many of the other pastors and leaders from IMG_1044IREP for the General Assembly (an annual meeting of the leaders of the whole denomination).  This was a wonderful four days of fellowship and learning together.  There was so much unity among the men there.  We laughed and joked together. We worshipped and prayed together.  We talked and ate together.  We hiked together.  I and the other members of our missionary group were only visitors there.  I am in Colombia on my VISA at their invitation, but this is the first time that I have met those pastors outside of Bucaramanga and Bogotá.  These men have lived through some very difficult times.  Many of them and their congregations still are.  One pastor, Jorge, is from the city of Cucuta which is next to the Venezuelan border.  Many in his church live in Venezuela and cross the border to attend church.  This past year the border was closed for five months.  As you may have read in the news, the people of Venezuela are suffering.  Many are out of work, don’t have enough food, and are under threats from the government.  When the border closed Jorge could not visit the Venezuelan members.  The food that the other churches had been sending could not be delivered.  But even with all of this, Jorge was rejoicing at the Lord’s work in the church there.  We are so thankful to be able to serve the church here in Colombia and to help support men like Jorge and John and Andrés.

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