The barrios of Medellín, Colombia are set up in the hills. Refugee families have settled on those steep streets; fleeing from violence in the villages of their countryside homes. Over the years these hillside gatherings have developed and become part of the city – complete with paved roads, stores, churches and police presence. Last summer I walked through these steep streets and into a Covenant Church.
The Sed de Justicia Thirst for Justice Covenant Church is a 4-story building that sits among the sea of terra cotta and wrought-iron structures. Our small visiting group sat down with Pastor Alvaro Alonso Muñoz to hear about the church and its ministries. He told us about the gang activity that permeates this barrio. He explained that young men are sucked in and young women are victimized. But he also spoke about hope and being a light in the community.
As we talked with Pastor Alvaro a young girl quietly slipped into the room. She hovered at the entrance; one arm hanging by her side and the other sheepishly grabbing it from behind. Pastor Alvaro warmly invited her in and she slowly started to walk toward us. “This is Kelly Tatiana,” he explained, “she is sponsored through Niños del Pacto (in Colombia).”
Kelly Tatiana and I began to talk. She smiled as I chatted with broken Spanish. She told me that she likes to go to school and study. And she likes to play and hang out with her friends. Kelly Tatiana’s father left the family and her mother often does not make enough to purchase food or school uniforms. Kelly Tatiana is grateful for the support she receives from Ninos del Pacto and she loves being part of the church. It was obvious that she felt at home in the church building and in the presence of Pastor Alvaro.
I left my new friend with very mixed feelings. She seemed so smart and friendly – a pre-teen girl enjoying the things that pre-teen girls enjoy. And yet she lives amidst dangerous gangs that threaten her life, her security and her future. Please pray with me for Kelly Tatiana, and others in her neighborhood, that she will continue to find strength and refuge at Sed de Justicia and in the presence of Jesus Christ.
by Kim Crawford, associate director of mission mobilization and connection for Covenant World Mission