For a young person growing up in the rural area of the state (Department) of Cordoba, the possibilities of having access to higher education are about 20% more or less. Of the 20%, maybe half have the resources and the motivation necessary to finish their education. One thing is certain, for those who have the opportunity to study and finish their degree, not only does it change their lifestyle and quality of life, but it transforms that fo their family and impacts their community.
El Hato is a rural community in the state (Department) of Cordoba and it is the third poorest state in Colombia, with a population of about 800 people. The economy of this area is based on agriculture and dairy production. The majority of the families in this area live on about $5/day. Each family is responsible for their daily provisions, which is sometimes very difficult. It’s almost imposible to make extra money to help the young people who want to study at a university or technical school, in order to receive an education that would help them improve their quality of life.
Franklin and Sadith Sanches are the pastors of the Covenant Church in El Hato. For the past 4 years they have assumed the responsibility and challenge of ministering in a congregation of about 50 people, 25 of whom are youth ages 14-20. As pastors, without a college education, they have embarked on an important and challenging task – to be examples for the youth in their congregation. The couple’s goal is to go to college and in doing so not only improve the quality of life for their family, but become a living example to the youth in their congregation that it is possible. Franklin wants to study to be an English teacher and Sady a nurse. They are both in the process of making this dream a reality.
Franklin and Sady are conscious of the fact that the church needs to live out a holistic gospel. That is why they are spending time with the youth daily, since the youth live nearby and spend most of their free time at the pastors’ home. And so Franklin and Sady not only teach the gospel on Sunday mornings, but on a daily basis with the way the live and love the people and the youth in their community. Together they sit and talk about their dreams and pray about ways to make them reality.
For the youth that come from generations of family that have not even finished elementary school, the idea of going to college is a huge challenge. Not only because of the way they understand the world and the reality that they are living in, but because of the lack of economic resources. My role in the process with these youth has been to share with them my story and show them that with God big things are possible. I came from a very similiar context in a rural town in Colombia. Besides showing how God has been at work in my life, as I visit them once a month, I am also able to start a process of theological education and leadership training with them. This is one way to help them face head on the academic world that so many of them long to be a part of.
My role also consists in helping them to dream with God and develop a world view that’s based on Biblical principles. A world view that will help them to cultivate hope and possibilities that will allow them to make changes in their lives and see their dreams come true, while generating new possibilities for their families and community. Jesus was interested in the whole person. I, Julio, am so happy to have the opportunity to serve this community. I have received so much and I am so happy to be able to give to others.