Colombia celebrates birth of 50 new church-type missions
During the recent gathering of the national church planting team and the Colombia national leaders, the birth of 50 new church-type missions (CTMs) was reported. The meeting took place in Bucaramanga, Colombia, 6-8 September 2022. Each district church planting leader shared about the new works in their jurisdiction.
Manuel Santo, the Colombia Northwest District evangelism coordinator, is one of those church planters. Santo reported 10 new church plants in his zone, which extends to the Panama border. His passion for church planting has spread among the leadership in his congregation. Santo’s congregation gets creative to raise funds to send its church planting team to some of these remote locations.
“When we go on church planting trips, it gets costly,” Santo said. “There’s a team of between 8-10 people that come with me. Between food and fuel for the boat, it’s costly. To raise funds, our church members sell pigs, cakes, and chickens to help cover the expenses.”
Church planting trips sometimes take several days for Santo and his team, who must travel by boat to some of the world's most inhospitable and dangerous places.
One of those places is the Darian Gap, the only area with no road between the North and South America Interamerican highway. Plagued by mosquitos, venomous snakes, and violence, the Darian Gap is close to Santo’s heart.
“When we get to those areas, we forget how tired we are from our long boat ride,” Santo said. “The way people receive us, some leave all their daily duties just to come and share with us.”
Santo remembers many anecdotes of his trips along the Atrato River. One of them is the first time he traveled to the San Iginio community around 2018. Because he was unfamiliar with the area, he saw the need to rent a boat and a boat driver to find the community.
“We left our community at 6 a.m., and at 10 p.m. we were still lost and on the water,” Santo said. “We were afraid because the area is hazardous."
They came across a local resident on the river bank, who helped them arrive at their destination around midnight.
“Even today, those people are still in church, and one of those is the church leader in the community,” Santo said.
Juan Carlos Soto, the Holistic Ministry Coordinator for Colombia, sees the 50 church plants as a reason to look back and celebrate the work that has been done even in the middle of the pandemic.
“As the Holistic Ministry Coordinator, I thank the Lord to hear the report of the coordinators,” Soto said. “With the 50 new CTMs, we have a great challenge in front of us. Our goal next year is to organize at least 15 churches around the country.”
—Church of the Nazarene South America