Putting a face with a name

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For the past year, Julio has been traveling to the south coast to work with several churches in the area of leadership training. He is constantly visiting the small city of Monteria and the small towns of El Hato and San Carlos. It had been awhile since I had been able to travel there so I was thankful for the opportunity to go and connect with people, putting faces to the names I’ve heard Julio mention so many times. After our exciting (scary) arrival to Monteria, we headed right out to the small town of El Hato. It’s in the middle of cotton fields and cattle farms. We were greeted warmly by the people of the church and spent the evening working with adults, youth, and children who were anxious to learn some ideas for teaching the Bible creatively to children. Yes, even the children participated in the learning experiences. How amazing to hear them answer questions like, how does God see children? One little girl answered “The kingdom of God belongs to us!” Diana, a teacher who traveled with me from Medellin, did a fabulous job of encouraging the participants and helping them identify the ways they are impacting the lives of children, while recognizing the areas they want to grow in. The youth participated in a drama and we all learned songs and Bible verses together.

The next day after a good night sleep and a yummy breakfast at Pastor Franklin and Sady’s house, we were off to San Carlos – a 5 minute motorcycle ride away. There we met with participants from two churches who came together for the workshop. Again the participants ranged from 7 years old to an older gentleman in his 70s. They spent time talking about their experience working with children and some of the challenges they face. Then we divided into two groups and one of the groups led the other group in a Bible lesson geared for children. How fun to see the creativity in the volunteers and their eagerness to work together! The children led us in a song and we finished the workshop praying together.

After lunch and conversation with one of the pastors we were off to the city of Monteria. That evening we led another workshop for children’s ministry volunteers and had a great group of veteran teachers and enthusiastic new volunteers. We were encouraged by their desire to work together and support each other. They are eager to take next steps and receive more training that will enable them to better engage with children of different ages.

And on our last day in Monteria, we were able to worship with the Family Restauration Center Covenant Church. This is a newer church and they have been working so hard to build space for ministry. They continue to make progress, but right now the children meet for Sunday School under a tent just outside the sanctuary. The teachers and volunteers do an amazing job loving kids and teaching them about Jesus. It was a privilege to teach during the service about the role of children in the church and see how much the congregation affirms the importance and value of children’s participation.

It was a quick weekend, but we walked away with an incredible appreciate for the people we were with. We look forward to finding ways to encourage and support the children’s ministry volunteers and churches as they minister to those who are most vulnerable in their communities – the children.

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