Link with Colombia

The Circuit Link with the Methodist Church of Colombia
Setting the scene

Since joining the task group of Nigel Spencer, Geoff Bowell, Ruth Dale and myself, Diane Robinson, set up at the June circuit meeting 2009 and charged with investigating the possibility of forging links with the Methodist church of Colombia, I feel as though I have been on an incredible journey. I came home from the meeting to discover that I had actually picked up, at the previous years Green-Belt Christian Festival, a copy of the DVD. from which the e-tube clip shown at the Circuit meeting had been taken, so I was able to look at it properly and repeatedly and each time I viewed it I gleaned something more.During the following year, via the internet, I learnt so much about this young church, its dedicated team of ministers, many of them female, and its charismatic leader (the Bishop) Rev Juan Carlos Cardona Gomez and my appetite was whetted to learn more. So it was with great excitement and a wonderful sense of anticipation that I received the news, at the end of April 2010, that the Bishop would like to visit Scarborough over the weekend 25th -27th June. I so wanted to meet him and it was such a joy to help with the planning for his visit but it wasn’t plain sailing.

Nigel had a holiday planned and would be out of the country for the weekend of the visit. Ruth was booked on a ‘compulsory’ Red Cross training day in Leeds on June 26th and Geoff was committed to attend an event at Cayton Chapel on the same evening. Moreover, 6 months previously my son David and wife Millie ‘booked’ Neil and I to look after their 3 small children while Millie gave birth to their 4th child, due date June 18th. Millie was hopeful that the baby would arrive early or on time as her sister Lizzie James planned to marry on June 26th and naturally she wanted to be at the wedding at St John’s, Staintondale. Also Lizzie had asked Beth (7) and Grace (5) to be flower-girls and Dan (3) was to wear a special suit too, one which matched with all the other young boy cousins, so it was to be an extra special family occasion…..but, just in case, Neil and I were asked to stand by to attend the wedding in ‘loco parentis’.  So I couldn’t commit myself to being available at any point over this particular weekend. The Preaching Plan was already made for the circuit Sunday Services, the ‘Big’ churches Westborough and Queen St had bookings for the Saturday evening and Mark Haynes was committed to attend his daughter’s concert on the Saturday

To go back to the beginning…
In September 2009 we had organised, at Northstead, a Circuit Open Afternoon of games and quizzes, exhibitions, DVDs, worship and food, wonderful food prepared by Gill Kirby of Wreyfield Drive.
In autumn 2009 I was invited to preach at Burniston Chapel’s Mission weekend March 20th/21st and in January attended the first planning meeting for this, when we looked at taking as the theme for the weekend, Colombia and the embryonic links being forged with the Methodist church there. There is a great team of workers at Burniston who organised a fantastic day on the Saturday which involved South American food served in the café, a ‘minute-olympics’ with games such as moving coffee beans with a straw, which each had to be completed in a minute – great fun, displays and activities about Colombia, fantastic word-searches and the chance to learn to sing in Spanish.
Chapel steward Rachel Firman, a good singer, and I learned, had previously lived for many years in Spain, and member Josefina originates from Mexico so they formed the core of the group. Josefina meets regularly with other native Spanish speakers living in Scarborough and brought along Colombian Maria Hagan and a Guatemalan friend too. Maria and her daughter also attended the service on Sunday and gave me her contact details, but also told me that she knows local preacher Patricia Mollon.

The plans take shape
We learned early in our preparations for the Bishop’s visit that the Bishop does not speak English and we would need to organise ‘round the clock’ interpreters. Nigel suggested that we use South Cliff as a venue for a Circuit event on the Saturday evening, the stewards agreed to host it and Janet Calvert kindly agreed to organise a catering team. Janet also remembered that member Joyce Huntly’s daughter-in-law, who lives in Scarborough, is Spanish. We were able through Joyce, to ask Anna, who is an accomplished interpreter, if she would ‘cover’ the Saturday 6.00-8.00 slot for us and she readily agreed. Lynne and Ken Marsden supplied games and display material as used at the Burniston event and Ken offered to help with projection of the Bishop’s power-point presentation. Shirley Broddle also agreed to help with the supply of South American food for Saturday and Sunday.

The team grows
David Sample, a member at Northstead teaches Spanish and has translated correspondence with the Bishop, agreed to cover the Saturday afternoon slot, when Helen and Geoff Bowell took the Bishop out to see something of this beautiful area and to talk about future links with the circuit, a conversation to be started over lunch at Burniston Chapel attended by Mark, Clare, Geoff, Helen, David and Beatriz,  a Mexican friend who we roped in to accompany Mark and the Bishop as translator, on a tour of Scarborough churches on Saturday morning. Building up the team of translators has been so exciting! God has provided for our needs so richly. Spanish speaking Rachel and Fred Firman kindly agreed to host the Bishop during his stay, even though they had the girls at home and were all invited to Lizzie James’ wedding ( her daughter Kate was a bridesmaid) on the Saturday. Clare and Josefina looked after the Bishop on Saturday evening after the South Cliff event.

The weekend arrives
-and so does baby James Robinson!
Rachel accompanied Ken Marsden to York on Friday afternoon to meet our guest off the London train and bring him to Scarborough, and she translated for Mark as he met with him on the Friday evening.

  Then on Sunday morning she acted as interpreter as the Bishop preached powerfully to a full church at the family service at Northstead, and afterwards at the Circuit lunch as he told something of the amazing way God is using the Methodist Church in Colombia. Josefina then accompanied Bishop Juan and Ken on their journey back to York where the Bishop was to meet with the York North Circuit for tea.
Please read the Bishop’s translated address.
Many people who heard the Bishop speak and preach were inspired by him and moved by his story. Donations were spontaneously offered to help with the work and we made a commitment to pray for the young Methodist Church in Colombia. We receive updates of prayer needs from Bishop Juan and these are circulated via the Circuit prayer letter.

Links are strengthened and developed
In June 2011 the Bishop was an overseas guest at the Methodist Conference in Stockport and met up with our Superintendent Mark Haynes. He spoke of the 6 months of devastating flooding and mud-slides that areas of Colombia experienced 2010-2011 and of the building programme the church is supporting. Clinics, schools, multi-purpose church buildings are being built in areas of tremendous need, in partnership with the Colombian government departments and oversees mission partners such as the United Methodist Churches of USA and Canada.
Via ‘the web’ we have formed a link with one of these churches, Moose Lake United Methodist Church in Minnesota USA. Pastor Rick Edwards has supplied photos of the 2 projects they are involved with in Brisas del Mar. A team from Moose Bay is preparing to travel to Colombia in January to complete work they began on extending a school. (see article)

What next…
This website will help to share information throughout the circuit. We need more people to become involved in promoting this link, if you are interested please speak to your minister. Please prayerfully support the work by keeping an eye on the prayer requests in the prayer letter. We are building up a stock of photos and power-point presentations which can be borrowed and used in a meeting or service. I am happy to speak to meetings about our Colombian link, or to be planned to preach for special services. Who knows perhaps someone will visit Colombia and visit one of the projects?  Any donations to the Colombia fund should be clearly marked as such and sent to Circuit Treasurer Ken Marsden and the money will be sent to support the ongoing work, we have already sent a contribution towards the purchase of an ultra-sound scanner. This is part of a report from the opening of a newly constructed clinic in June 2011:-
‘Hours before the celebratory ribbon was cut patients were already being attended. Dr. Sneider Romo Miranda, staff physician, oversaw a bevy of medical personnel, most of them helping out for the day. The lineup of patients had begun at 7:00 a.m. Dani Luz Ramos, from the village of Plan Parejo, was among the first in line. A few months into her pregnancy, she was waiting to get a sonogram. “Even though I have four children, I’ve never had a sonogram before,” she said. “You had to go to San Onofre for it, so no; I’ve never had one.”  Later, when she held the printout in her hand and admired the image of her as yet unborn daughter, she said, “It’s like a miracle.”
Ramos was one of 200 patients seen that day by doctors, dentists, and lab technicians. The clinic’s regular staff is, so far, composed of Dr Romo, a part-time dentist, a part-time lab technician, and an office assistant.’

News items tagged with ‘Colombia’ can be found here

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