eclipse art
Today is the long-awaited Eclipse Day in the USA. (Actually, Colombia will see somewhere between 35% and 50% of the eclipse as well.) During this widely anticipated natural event, darkness will prevail over light..only for a matter of minutes...but based upon current events, I have found myself wondering if we're in the midst of a much greater eclipse.

On a recent family trip, we visited cities that seemed to be filled with desperation. In one city, the metro stations were practically plastered with adds for Suicide and Depression Help-Lines. Indeed, as we walked about, it seemed the lack of hope was contagious...UNTIL we walked into a church on Sunday morning! What we found was the most ethnically, economically and generationally diverse congregation we've ever seen worshiping...not just going through the motions, but really worshiping God! That congregation was challenged through a Scripture based sermon to fulfill the Great Commission. "...Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age..," (Matthew 28:19-20) Knowing the impact of that particular church on its community and indeed the world, I have no doubt they responded to the message.
fire in the neighborhood of Moravia
We came home to watch news reports of racial clashes in the USA, terrorist attacks in Spain, complete civil unrest in neighboring Venezuela and, this week, a devastating neighborhood fire here in Medellín that left 108 families without homes. The issues seemed too overwhelming...UNTIL we went to church! Pastor John Jairo challenged the church with the Great reach even the last little corner of the valley we live in for Christ. This week, the message was intensified and groups are being mobilized to go and help the victims in the fire-ravaged neighborhood of Moravia.

Desperation, pain and sin WILL NOT eclipse the hope of Christ! Darkness WILL NOT prevail against light! Christ won that battle on the cross and then He sent HIS CHURCH (that's you and me) to provide hope to the nations! We follow a RESURRECTED CHRIST and because of that are full of HIS HOPE! Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16) THIS is why church planting is so important!

While we might enjoy watching the eclipse today, we CANNOT sit back and watch evil eclipse goodness in our world! We have a mission to fulfill and we are not alone in it, He is with us...even till the end of the age. We MUST let our light shine. These aren't suggestions for just a few...they are commandments for all believers. IT IS TIME to stand up for Christ and spread His hope to the nations!
Glimpses of Light
Yesterday we got to meet Brayen (pronounced Brian) the young man we wrote about in July who wants to start a church in his neighborhood, and his friend Alexis. Brayen, covered in tattoos with his flat-billed hat pulled low, stood at the door of the theater where our church meets peppering Ricardo with questions like "How do I resist temptation?"

We learned that Brayen supplies coffee for a network of other young men, like Alexis, who then sell it in downtown. We know that "selling coffee" downtown is, in most cases, actually a cover for drug and prostitution rings. Andres and Rossemberg said they prefer to think that Brayen's team is not involved in such things. If, however, the contrary is true, how exciting to think that God could be using these two faithful servants to share Christ with Brayen and in turn transform an evil system into something good! We believe that Brayen is a "person of peace" and will reach a whole new sector of society. Please pray for Brayen and Alexis as they grow in relationship with Christ and for Rossemberg, Andres and the other members of our church as they spread God's light into the darkest corners of the Medellín Valley!

Likewise, another church member decided to open a cooking/Alpha course in another neighborhood. 31 people are signed up to make crepes and learn about God tonight!
We are also thankful that our children are able to attend a Christian school. They have just completed mission's month where they learned how to share God's light here in Medellín and throughout the world. The photo below was taken at Saturday's wrap-up event.
Missions celebration at school
Ministering in the Light
We are heading into a very busy period of ministry over the next months and would appreciate your prayers.

August 25 - We begin leading another Couples Course here on campus. We are expecting 17 couples, some of them from the seminary and some from our church. Our intention is to invest in these couples so that they can invest in others. The course will end on October 27.

September 11-14 - Ricardo and Beth will travel to Panama to meet with other Free Methodist Missionaries to Latin America. Ricardo will be sharing his Theological Formation and Church Planting vision for Colombia and the Region and Beth will be reporting for the Communication Team. J and j will remain with a friend.

September 20-22 - Ricardo has been invited to teach about Personal Evangelism and Church Planting at the New Room Conference in Franklin, TN.

September 19 - November 15 - Ricardo will be teaching the Theology of Suffering (to three different groups of students) and Pastoral Counseling at the seminary.
I really like the artwork at the top. Although it is meant to illustrate the solar eclipse, it looks to me like the stone being rolled away from an empty tomb! No need to despair! Jesus Christ has conquered the darkness, once and for all! Let us live then as CHILDREN of LIGHT and share HIS HOPE with our friends, neighbors and co-workers!

Serving Latin America for His Glory,
Ricardo and Beth