For over 20 years, Carmen Duarte has been pastoring the Light of Christ Covenant Church, along with her husband, German, in the Cantaclaro neighborhood of Monteria. The Pacto of Colombia has been ministering for more than 25 years in Cantaclaro, since the time that this neighborhood was the largest internally displaced persons (IDP) neighborhood in all of South America. (Currently it is the second largest in Colombia). The Light of Christ Church has always had a social justice ministry as part of its outreach. At the beginning it was with the CRENN project, which focused on the life issues of the children—their education and nutrition—and has now formed the Strong and United Hands Foundation (SUH) which has enlarged CRENN’s focus to include families, youth and the elderly.
The Hands with Hope Foundation (HWH) from the Pacto in Antioquia has achieved good results in their entrepreneurship projects, training in arts and crafts, holistic support for many people and the formation of savings groups in the region of Antioquia. Thus, a partnership between the HWH and the SUH was formed. This is helping, greatly, for the Light of Christ Church to further reach their community in practical and integral ways. And, it feeds right into a gifting that Pastor Carmen has—that of food preparation (her bi-vocational gifting). So Carmen and German are not only preaching and discipling, but also ministering in practical ways with the people as well as they share food preparation expertise.
It is a joy to listen to the women of Cantaclaro as they tell of the advances made in what they are learning now at the SUH Foundation. These words from Rebeca and Aracelis, who are brave women and heads of their households in Cantaclaro, give testimony of their determination to learn to start their own businesses in order to increase the quality of life for their families.
My name is Rebeca Ortega Torres and I thank God our heavenly Father that I am part of this foundation. I am grateful for what I am learning from the project and from the teachers, Carmen and William, because I can apply techniques learned in the making of a variety of frozen foods products. In December I had an excellent business month, as I was making these food items in great quantities! It is a strength to have this course taught alongside with the entrepreneurship classes. These courses have helped me to properly structure an idea for my own business venture. How? By figuring out the final costs to make great empanadas, for example, thus obtaining a considerable profit which helps provide a good source of income to support my family. I thank God and all those who help us in the project.
My name is Aracelis Salcedo and I thank God for all we have learned in the foundation, through the devotionals shared, and as I have learned to trust in the Lord, believing that my requests have been heard. I had a very sick cousin and as we, as a group, cried out for the Lord’s help and healing, everything is evolving for the better. In the area of entrepreneurship, we learned how to organize a budget, for example. Since I have a restaurant, I am thankful to what I have learned and have put it into practice, as I have been able to move forward. Thank God for the teachers and the foundation for giving us the opportunity!
We are always mindful and thankful to God for allowing us to do a job that expresses a lot of love and contributes a little to the well-being of these Colombian families.