The above photo is our Bible study group getting together to share a classic Thanksgiving dinner in Medellin, Colombia. Turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, corn, yams, broccoli casserole, rolls, and pumpkin pie. Christian Ministry Opportunities always go better with great food!
In this post, I want to update you on the ways Jesus is building His church in Medellin. We recently discovered two new Christian ministry opportunities here in our home in South America. The members of Grace Church Medellin are constantly discovering the truth of Ephesians 2:10 –
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Most Christians are familiar with Eph 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” No amount of good works will ever get us into Heaven to spend eternity with God. As John 3:16 states “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Then Eph 2:10 gives us our purpose now that we have a personal relationship with our wonderful Savior. And the Holy Spirit is showing us the truth of this verse in Medellin.
God’s Vision and Plan Are Much Bigger Than Ours
Based on our experiences in other parts of Latin America, we believed God planned to establish a church for English-speaking retirees from North America and parts of Europe as well as with Colombians and other Latin Americans who speak English. So we started thinking of ways to get the word out and attract those people. We created a website, and Facebook page and waited for the Holy Spirit to draw all the retirees. We even started a Monday morning Bible study.
Guess what happened? The “good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” were different than we had expected. Four young people called us and asked for an evening Bible study. They work during the day so they could not attend our daytime study. We were shocked! They presented us with a new Christian ministry opportunity.
Fortunately, our friends Michael and Nichole Thayer volunteered to host a night study group. So God multiplied us from one group to two. Both of our groups were early in our study of the Gospel of John and it was very interesting to see the differences in the way the Holy Spirit led the two groups. Of course, the “youngsters” beat the old folks. They say we are slow, but I prefer the term “deep”.
That group has just started a new study in the Book of Acts, while our first group is halfway through John 19. We are still discussing our next study, and I believe we will tackle one of Paul’s Epistles. Not sure which one, but I’ll keep you posted.
The Holy Spirit Continues to “Expand Our Territory”
You may be familiar with the “Jabez Prayer”. In the first 8 chapters of the Old Testament book First Chronicles, we are given a long set of genealogies of the Jewish people. Right in the middle, are two verses about a man named Jabez. Chapter 4 verse 9 tells us of his birth and the meaning of his name. And in the 10th verse, we read about his prayer –
“He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from trouble and pain!’ And God granted his request.”
In our case, God is expanding our territory by providing new Christian ministry opportunities. These next stories are examples of that.
More About the Laureles Group
Previously I told you about our new Bible study group in Laureles, which is another part of Medellin that is very popular with expats. We started that group again thinking God would bring North American retirees to fellowship with us. To our amazement, every member of the group other than the leaders is a young Colombian in their 20s or 30s. Most of them are University students and virtually all come from Christian homes. It is very exciting to study “El Evangelio de Juan” with these young people.
Teaching English Using The Bible
While investigating locations for that group, we came in contact with a language school near the giant Estadio complex and a man named Bud Cox. Bud, who calls himself Carlos when he is in Medellin, led a small free class in English using the Bible and Christian videos in English. He invited us to come and see what he was doing. He also told us that he would be returning to the US for at least 6 months for his business.
A few weeks later, we volunteered to take the class while he was away, so now Paulette and I are ESL teachers (“English as a Second Language”). We have 2 to 5 ladies who come twice per week to improve their English and learn more about the Bible. In our classes, Paulette uses phonics exercises she finds on the internet. As a group, we watch a Christian movie or video in English. And we read the Bible out loud for pronunciation practice and talk about the meaning of the passage we read. We end each class with prayer requests. This seems to be one of the most important parts of the class for our students. In the process, we have the opportunity to share the “Good News of Jesus Christ”. It is amazing to see the Holy Spirit work in their lives and ours.
Christian Ministry Opportunities Bring Changes
After finding these new Christian ministry opportunities, and spending lots of time in Ubers crisscrossing the city, we decided we needed to live closer to “the action”. We called our good friend Angie to see if she had any ideas about an apartment in Laureles. Of course she did, and of course, when we saw it, the apartment was perfect for our needs. (It was “a God thing”). And within a few days, we agreed with our new landlord on a price and move-in date, and we will be moving sometime this month. Today, a good friend agreed to rent our apartment so our existing landlord is also very happy. It was all “a God thing”. There are no coincidences in the Christian life.
These new opportunities were adding considerable time and transportation costs each week. Our new apartment is within walking distance of the church in Laureles. And we found a bus for our trips to the language school. So, we’re saving money, and as an added benefit, the apartment and kitchen are larger and will allow us more room for hosting studies and activities with our groups. Also, Laureles is much flatter than Poblado, making walking much easier. So we both will get more exercise.
Thanks for your kind attention to our stories. If you are living in or visiting Medellin, please contact us. We would love to get to know you. And if not, please consider coming for a visit to see what God is doing, and how He will use you in the “good works He has prepared in advance for you to do”. See you very soon.
Steve and Paulette Tuggle