December 2021 Prayer Focus

December 1, 2021 |

The Weary World Rejoices

The Weary World Rejoices

The contrasting language used in this phrase moves me. A world weary from its brokenness and sin, weighed down, burdened, grieving… suddenly rejoicing. And the rejoicing doesn’t take away the weariness, but it shines through in the midst of it. It is in this space that our rejoicing is deeper and more beautiful, because it is marked by pain but also defiant of its hold on us.

The realities of the past two years are heavy. The world pandemic has caused loss of life, isolation, division. Political unrest, social division, even church division. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, like the brokenness around us is bursting through the seams and reaching an all-time high. However, I reflect on the first Christmas and am reminded of the worldly realities when Jesus was born. I think we often paint a cozy picture of our Savior’s birth without understanding the full weight of the social and political climate during the time of his birth.

  • Political oppression, Cesar ordered a census taken of the entire Roman world, possibly for tax purposes
  • Herod rose to power with the support of Rome and was known for holding a military dictatorship over Judea.
  • About 10% of the population was born into nobility and lived lavishly; the remaining 90% worked in the fields. It’s safe to say that by our standards, injustice was built into this system–10% at the top controlled virtually everything.
  • After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were forced to flee and live as foreigners in Egypt, isolated and outcast.

Yet, in the midst of this messiness, Christ willingly entered the world in a humble and lowly way… and the world rejoiced. The king who will redeem all things has arrived!

The oppression and isolation didn’t end with Jesus’s birth, but worship entered into its midst. A deeper reality began that would reach its full realization on the cross. God’s heavenly kingdom was coming down to earth.

As we enter into this Christmas season, what does it look like for us to pursue worship and rejoice?

The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the Lord,
And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.  Isaiah 29:19

 

1. Pray for Julián and Serina Arias.  Julián and Serina are working with a church plant in the town of Peñol, outside of Medellín.  Every two weeks, Julián leads worship, preaches, and provides counsel for this community of believers. Pray for those attending to be affirmed in their faith in Christ Jesus and that the Lord would bring new people to not only attend services but to come to faith.

Penol Church Plant 2021

 

2. Pray for PARAKALEO ministry. SAM missionary Olga Chiang is a catalyzer for PARAKALEO which trains, supports, and values women involved in church planting in Latin America. Five Peruvian women joined other women from across Latin America for training. Pray that the women will be equipped and encouraged for fruitful ministry.

3. Pray for the Bolivia Taskforce.  Missionaries and local partners will be meeting December 10-13 to pray together and discern how best SAM can support kingdom work in Bolivia.  Please pray that God gives them vision for the work in the midst of recent political and social upheaval in the country.

4. Pray for Tim and Mindy Callahan. Tim and Mindy are new missionaries in Brazil. After language learning in Cuiaba, they will be serving at Ammi, using their gifts in agricultural training and linguistics to serve the ministry. Pray for Tim and Mindy during their transition to the field, language acquisition, and cultural immersion.

Callahans at Ammi 2021

 

5. Pray for Kat Guild.  Kat recently finished language school in Barranquilla and is officially joining the ministry team there. Pray for the Lord’s discernment and wisdom on how and where to serve. As her Spanish improves, please pray that God would both bring about meaningful relationships and that He would also show her how to be a better friend to those He puts in her path.

6. Pray for Mike Mahon and SAMAIR Peru.  Praise God for His provision of a new plane in Peru! With its arrival, pray for Mike as he handles the details of customs, other paperwork, and end-of-year parts shipments.  

7. Pray for Jenna Weigner. Jenna is a midwife and serves the indigenous and rural groups in eastern Bolivia. Jenna also networks with maternity hospitals and breastfeeding groups across Bolivia to offer education and instruction to medical staff and new mothers. Pray that God would use Jenna to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the mothers and their children.

Jenna Weigner 2021

 

8. Pray for the Center of Formation of Leaders. Many students are struggling to make it each night to this bible institute in western Brazil, several driving one hour by motorcycle. Pray for endurance and dedication for these future church leaders. Pray for the ministry worker who is teaching Doctrine of Sin and Christian Leadership this semester.

9. Pray for Joel and Angel Ballew.  Joel and Angel are mentoring Alfredo, Natalia, and Steffin, three young adult musicians that are starting a foundation for children who would be otherwise unable to learn classical music. Pray that the foundation is a blessing to the community.  Pray as well that God would give the Ballews opportunities to disciple these young leaders and deepen their relationships.

10. Pray for missionaries over Christmas.  As we celebrate the Lord’s birth, please pray for opportunities to share the hope and joy of Jesus’ incarnation with friends and neighbors.

11. Pray for Jeff HAuse.  Jeff recently celebrated 30 years of service in Bolivia.  His church recognized his years of service, and he enjoyed a reception with friends and coworkers.  Praise God for Jeff’s life and ministry in Bolivia and pray that He gives Jeff many more fruitful years of ministry there.

12. Pray for Ammi graduates.  Seven students, representing five different indigenous groups, completed the 3-year course at Ammi.  Pray for God to give them joy and purpose as they follow Christ and return to their villages equipped with the Word and ministry training.

Ammi Graduates 2021

 

13. Pray for Tracey Culley and Drew Warrick.  Tracey will be joining the ministry team in Recife, Brazil. Drew will be joining the ministry team in Armenia, Colombia after a year of training in La Paz, Mexico. Pray for these appointees as they raise funds and prepare for ministry.

November 2021 Prayer Focus

November 1, 2021 |

Thankful

Thankfulness

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. And most of us in America celebrate with an abundance of food, family, friends, football, parades, and more.

But what if we paused and thought about this quote:

“Thanksgiving is not a day; it’s a lifestyle.”

Some days, thankfulness comes easily and other days it does not. There are many stories in the Bible of thankfulness, and Paul encourages the church to give thanks in all circumstances. How can we truly develop that level of thankfulness in our daily lives?

We can start expanding our thankfulness by spending time with God each day. Open your Bible and read aloud one of the stories of thankfulness or a favorite passage. Turn on a praise song or hymn and sing along. Pause and look around you. Thank God for His presence in all things…even when you cannot see it.

When we can’t think of anything to be thankful for, we can be thankful for Jesus – for the forgiveness of sins, for a relationship with God, and for the promise of eternal life.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Psalm 107:1

 

1. Pray for Indigenous ministry. Torre Fuerte in eastern Bolivia will be hosting the annual conference for indigenous women. This retreat has been a great space for women from all over eastern/northern Bolivia to come and learn about the Lord and fellowship together. This years’ theme will be ‘God Makes a Difference in Me.’ Please pray for God’s provision of funding, for the women in attendance, for logistics to be worked out for travel and for good weather during the weekend.

2. Pray for Angel Ballew. Angel is playing volleyball with a local club for adult women in the city of Barranquilla.  Pray that this club will bless Angel with friendships and that the Lord will use Angel in the lives of these women.

3. Pray for Latidos de Esperanza. Latidos de Esperanza is a pregnancy center in Pucallpa. Pray for wisdom and creativity to move forward with the ministry after the pandemic. Praise that two volunteers were able to host a workshop for teen girls recently, and two teenage moms are being discipled. 

 

4. Pray for SAM Board Meetings. SAM’s Board of Directors will meet November 11-13. Pray for the Lord’s wisdom, guidance and unity as they prayerfully discern God’s vision and direction for the mission.  

5. Pray for Wes and Trudy Seng. The Sengs retired from SAM after more than 50 years of ministry in Brazil. Praise God for His faithfulness to Wes and Trudy and for His fruit in their lives and ministry. They will continue to live and minister to the indigenous church in Iranduba, Brazil.

6. Pray for Dana Wilson. Praise God for the marriage of SAM missionary Dana Wilson to Víctor Hugo Pinto. Pray that their marriage will bring glory to God as they love one another and those around them.

7. Pray for Pastor Jorge and Kristina. Jorge and Kristina minister in the Los Quindos neighborhood in Armenia.  Pray that God gives them wisdom as they start programs back up after quarantine restrictions.  Pray that the Lord would provide funding for Manos de Esperanza, the church foundation that serves the community.

8. Pray for “pup tent outreach” in Lima. Traveling from jungle and mountain provinces and unable to enter the hospital because of Covid restrictions, families are living in tents on the sidewalks while their children are hospitalized or awaiting treatment. Iglesia Biblica Gracia y Verdad is ministering to these families. Pray for the church as they offer food, prayer, and the hope that is found in the gospel.

 

9. Pray for Hope Church in Gaira. The church opened up for regular services and youth group meetings in June. With a new leadership group, the church is committed to Bible study, prayer, and community outreach. Please pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for the new leaders and youth as they serve the church and reach their community.

10. Pray for missionaries far from home on Thanksgiving. Living cross-culturally can be hard during the holidays. Pray for peace and encouragement for our missionaries as they celebrate Thanksgiving far from their home culture and family.

11. Pray for appointee families to Bolivia. The Millers, the Ryans, and the Smiths are preparing to serve in Bolivia.  Pray that God will provide the needed financial and prayer support through their churches, family, and friends. Pray that God gives an abundance of faith, patience, and joy during this time.

12. Pray for SAM Center. Praise God that the documents for purchase of the SAM Center have been finalized. Located in Igarassu, SAM Center will focus on training intensives and special events for gospel-centered outreach in the northeastern region of Brazil, as well as soul care through retreats and counseling services. 

 

September 2021 Prayer Focus

September 1, 2021 |

Craving Peace

Craving Peace

My heart craves peace. For our world. For our country. For our churches. For our neighbors. For our missionaries. To receive the peace that I crave, I need to look to Jesus for it. I need to keep on seeking him for it. 

In my moments of unrest, I turn to John 16:33:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus came with God’s peace, a peace under all circumstances. His peace doesn’t make all my problems or the world’s conflicts fade away. But Jesus has met the world in battle and conquered it. In him, I can find peace…a peace that will quiet my heart. I cannot forget that. 

Peace is one of the greatest gifts Christ offers his followers…

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

…a gift of the Holy Spirit…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

This month, we pray Jesus’ peace over our missionaries, ministries, partners, and Latin America along with their prayer requests. 

 

1. Pray for Erika Carroll in Brazil. Pray for Erika as she serves as the nurse at the Ammi Training Center.  Besides being on call at all hours of the day, she teaches in the mornings and runs a clinic in the afternoon for the students. She is also overseeing Covid protocol at Ammi. Please pray for God’s protection over the students and staff.

Erika at Ammi

 

2. Pray for Mike and Marina Shank. Pray for the Shanks’ six-month ministry internship at Iglesia Reforma in Guatemala with other future church planters before moving to Bolivia. Please pray that the Lord leads them to the people and places that He wants them to invest in while there. Pray for growth in their skills for ministry while caring for their son.

3. Pray for Brazos Abiertos in Lima, Peru. Brazos Abiertos (Open Arms) is devoted to the restoration of families and is located in one of the poorer areas of Lima. This ministry has a passion to restore God’s vision for families. Pray for the partnership of Brazos Abiertos and Iglesia de la Ciudad – La Molina, that the church teams share willing hands and compassionate hearts to love and serve in the name of Christ.

4. Pray for Pastor Jose in Colombia. Jose is a gifted leader who is leading a number of church leadership networks geared toward seeing gospel transformation of the cities in Colombia. Pray that God allows Jose’s labor to produce fruit as he works to unite churches, pastors, and leaders. Pray for him as a father as he leads his three children in the ways of God.

5. Pray for the Layne family in Recife, Brazil.  Pray for new missionaries Kevin and Emily as they adjust to life and ministry. Pray for God’s favor as they learn Portuguese, join the ministry team, and care for their three children.

Layne Family September 2021

 

6. Pray for Micah Bittner in Bolivia. Pray for Micah as he restores and upgrades aircraft equipment that has not been used during COVID lockdown. SAMAIR Bolivia is waiting on parts for the aircrafts. Pray that the parts arrive quickly so this ministry can support the advance of the gospel in the unreached areas of Bolivia.

7. Pray for Evangelism in the City, Ayacucho, Peru. Pray for a week-long evangelistic push September 18-25. Two pastors from the U.S. will be coming to participate with Rick and Donna Martin. Pray for seeds to be planted and the gospel to change hearts.

8. Pray for Marcos Achimo in Bolivia. Marcos and Jeff HAuse (SAM) meet together for prayer and mutual encouragement. Pray for Marcos who is on staff with CRU. Pray for his ministry and his current project, “The Four,” which provides materials and training to churches and leaders who desire to share their faith in creative ways. 

9. Pray for Fundacion Comunidad Viva and the house church movement in Bogota, Colombia. Pray for leadership reproduction and transition for these two ministries led by Jorge and Ginny Enciso. Pray that God strengthens and matures the areas of weakness and vulnerability to raise up new leaders for a thriving future.

10. Pray for SAM Academy in Pucallpa, Peru. Pray that the teachers and staff serve the missionaries and their children with excellence. This year there are 37 children from six different mission agencies as well as national ministries. Pray that their focus as a school community will always be to love the Lord and to share the love of the Lord.

SAM Academy 2021 Grades 1-5

 

11. Pray for Natalie in Bolivia. Pray for Natalie as she transitions back into life in Bolivia after an extended home leave due to COVID travel restrictions. Pray that she adapts well, that her Spanish language skills come back quickly, and that this new season of kingdom work is fruitful in a country still struggling with the pandemic.  

12. Pray for David and Leidi Ayala in Peru. Pray for the Ayalas as they lead Manos Que Suman, a non-profit organization in Lima that loves, serves, and seeks the welfare of those in vulnerable situations. Pray as they practice relational evangelism and invest in the development of biblical discipleship of future generations. 

Ayala Family May 2021

 

Deaf Students Hear About Jesus

August 11, 2021 |

Deaf Students Hear About Jesus

Years ago, in the Amazon Jungle of Pucallpa, a Peruvian pastor had a heart and desire to serve and help others with disabilities, like himself. Like many in Peru, he survived polio as a child, but it left him with physical disabilities. South America Mission (SAM) allowed that pastor to use some of their property directly behind SAM Academy to begin Refugio de Esperanza (The Refuge of Hope). With a focus on educating and teaching a trade to individuals with disabilities, he also wanted them to know the love of God. Thirty-five years later, Refugio is now a flourishing ministry that hosts a preschool, primary school, special ed school, high school, hearing church, Deaf church, boarding opportunities for students in need, and housing for a variety of families and a missionary (me).

For the past five years, I have been blessed to live with, serve alongside, and become part of the Refugio family. I work with Deaf students in the schools here. With a background as a professional Sign Language interpreter in the U.S., it was quite the learning curve to acquire fluency in Spanish and Peruvian Sign Language at the same time upon my arrival. But the struggles were definitely worth it! I can communicate and interpret more fluently with/for my Deaf co-teacher, Carlos, and my Deaf students.

Our Students

Deaf students here, like many other students with disabilities, are often not accepted into regular schools. Therefore, they are left uneducated. It is common for us to receive a new Deaf student in one of our schools aged anywhere from 3-16 years old who has no formal language acquisition, much less actual reading and writing ability. If they did attend a school before, they are normally just passed along without receiving any official education. Such was the case of one of our high school students, Erick.

Erick at Refugio

Erick is 18 years old and has been attending high school for three years. Previous to that, he was passed along in elementary school and then stayed at home not studying because no high school would accept him. In 2018, Carlos and I went to his house to talk with his mom. We encouraged her to send him to high school at Refugio. So in 2019, he began attending and became a part of our third year teaching high school Deaf students. Erick is hard-of-hearing so he can hear some sounds and can also speak a variety of words. But he had never heard of Jesus until he began attending our high school and the Deaf church at Refugio.

Jeck Billy at Refugio

Then we have Jeck Billy. He began attending Refugio’s primary school before I arrived in Pucallpa. Jeck Billy is completely deaf and already knew a lot of Sign Language when I first met him. He is more advanced in his studies, but he also didn´t start truly understanding who Jesus is until he entered high school. And once we began the Deaf church in 2018, that helped to open up more conversations about God and our need for a Savior which helped him understand even more.

For years, I and many others have been praying for the hearts and souls of our Deaf high school students. More recently and specifically for the hearts of Erick and Jeck Billy. God decided to respond marvelously the last week of June!

Cold and Joyous Day

Wednesday, June 30 started like any normal day in the jungle except that it was cold! Due to the cold, I knew that few students would show up for classes. As I walked to my classroom, I was surprised to find that Erick actually arrived early! As we were waiting to see if more students would arrive, I left Carlos in the room with the students for a moment. When I returned, I found Carlos and Erick in a conversation about Salvation. Carlos needed to leave so he passed the baton to me to explain more. I continued the conversation answering Erick´s questions and making sure he understood his need for a Savior. He told us that his heart was pounding as if it would come out of his chest. I could see on his face the battle happening within as the devil fought to keep his soul.

We had the blessing of time because of the cold weather and only three other students in the classroom. I kept praying silently, encouraging him, answering whatever questions or doubts arose in his mind. I asked if he wanted to pray and ask Jesus into his heart. He said yes…so I helped lead him in acknowledging his need for a Savior and asking Jesus into his heart. As soon as we finished praying, I asked him if his heart was still pounding. He said no, then burst into tears. I could see the Holy Spirit´s work of peace on his face. What a joyous day!

Firsts at Deaf Church

I thought that would be the highlight of my week, but God had more plans. On Sunday, July 4, we had church service like normal. My co-teacher Carlos is also the pastor of the Deaf church. At the end of every service, Pastor Carlos gives an altar call with the invitation to accept Jesus or come forward for prayers of repentance. For the first time since we started the Deaf church in 2018, one gentleman stood up and went forward to ask forgiveness of the Lord. He broke the ice, and after him, two others joined him to ask forgiveness of the Lord. We all knew those three were already saved.

As Pastor Carlos continued to invite others up, Jeck Billy stood up. He went forward. Pastor Carlos went to him and asked him why he had come forward. He said he wanted to accept Jesus as his Savior! Pastor Carlos helped lead him in prayer. When they had finished, Jeck Billy returned to his seat as we all were watching him, and as desperately as he tried not to, he couldn´t hold back his tears. Erick, who just accepted Jesus on Wednesday, hugged him, and once again, I saw the Holy Spirit´s peace shining through. The entire church was so excited, and we rejoiced knowing that heaven was celebrating and had just defeated the devil´s evil wiles again! What an amazing week of glorious blessing and fruit!

Join Us In Prayer

Please pray for these two young men as they begin their new lives in Christ. Also, pray for the Lord to send men to work with the Deaf. These young men need mentors and men to disciple them. Pastor Carlos is 67 years old and one of their school teachers, so it is difficult for him to mentor them on a personal level. We wait expectantly for the Lord to send workers for this ripe harvest! Until that time, pray that Pastor Carlos remains healthy and able to continue serving as teacher and pastor to the Deaf students.

Refugio Deaf Church, Pastor Carlos

 

Amanda-McKinney

Amanda McKinney is a professional Sign Language interpreter. She has been part of the SAM network in Pucallpa for many years serving at Refugio de Esperanza. She formally joined SAM as a missionary in 2020. Her heart’s desire is to make the hope of the Gospel accessible to those who have limited or no language, the marginalized Deaf community in Peru, through education and interpretation.

August 2021 Prayer Focus

August 3, 2021 |

Alianza y Misionera de Yarina

Praying for Beautiful Churches in Peru

Oftentimes, we take the church for granted and don’t pray for our own church much less others. Especially before the pandemic. The doors to the church were open every Sunday for worship, programming, and fellowship. During the week, the church was open for Bible study, preschool, afterschool, youth group, pastoral counseling, choir rehearsal, committee meetings, prayer time, and more. We let the church pray for us, serve us.

The pandemic changed many things, one being how we view the church. She is still as beautiful as ever, but her doors can close. We dare not forget that God’s church is a gathering of people through whom he works out the purposes of redemption – in individuals, families, cities, and nations. As the church infuses the world with the grace and mercy of Jesus, she takes on the beauty that God desires for her.

We need to pray for our church and churches around the globe who share the gospel message and train both new and old believers in God’s truth. This month, we share prayer requests for pastors, churches, and church networks in Peru as they offer the hope of Christ to their local communities. Please join us in praying for these beautiful churches.

1. Pastor Esaud, Iglesia ICP: Pray for the pastor as he leads this church. They have been able to meet at least three times in person this year. May those attending in person or online come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

2. Pastor Russell, Iglesia Evangélica Kerygma: Pray for the pastor’s health and back. Pray for the money needed for treatment. May he continue to encourage those in the church to encounter Jesus as their personal savior.

3. Pastor Meison, Iglesia Redentor: Pray for the integration of leadership into the work of the church. Pray for the physical health of several leaders. Pray for young couples. Pray for the training that we have via Zoom so that the desire to study God’s word does not diminish.

Iglesia Redentor

 

4. Pastor Carlos, Refugio Deaf Church: Pray for the pastor’s strength and stamina. Pray that God raises up a new pastor to eventually take over as Pastor Carlos is 67 years old and hoping to retire at some point. Pray that the Lord works in the hearts of the unbelieving attenders.

5. Pastor José, Alianza y Misionera Pucallpa Centro: Pray for our next challenge as a church, “Pucallpa Encounter with God”. Evangelistic Nights from July 1 until next year, every night via Zoom.

6. New Church Plant, IBC Bustamante: Praise for the church’s first baptisms at the end of July. This is a great cause for celebration- the Lord has been faithful to save and to make disciples, and we are excited to praise Him together!

Baptism at IBC Bustamante July 2021

7. Pastor David, Iglesia Evangélica Misionera: Please pray for unity in the body of Christ. Pray for patience in all the people who continue to wait to have face-to-face services. Pray for wisdom for the pastor and leaders to discern the times and purposes of God.

8. Pastor Alexis Gonzalez, Mil Palmeras: Pray for the future plans of the church and the money needed for construction. Praise that they were able to meet in person for the first time since March 2020.

9. Pastor Lister, Alianza y Misionera de Yarina: Pray for the health of the pastor and his wife as both have some illnesses. Pray for their strength as they minister to the church. Praise that the church is growing. Pray that God brings more leaders to disciple new believers.

10. Pastor Anselmo, Iglesia Evangélica: Pray that we are a unified church that shows the love of God. Pray for our ministry to children. Pray that people return to the Lord after a long time away due to the pandemic.

Iglesia Evangélica Misionera

 

11. Pastor Gilmar – Iglesia Bíblica Cristiana: Pray that we are a faithful, healthy, and strong church. Praise for the baptism of six people this summer. May their lives reflect what it means to be like Jesus. Pray for Pastor Gilmar, his wife, and their son.

12. The Lima Initiative: Pray for the “Respira Pastor” campaign that raises funds to financially support pastors and their families who are facing medical emergencies directly caused by COVID-19. Many pastors have become infected while faithfully serving those who are sick, helpless, and living in extreme conditions.

Creating Space

June 24, 2021 |

Wajaro Full Table

Having the Wájaro office in our home for the past 5 years has been a messy, but beautiful season of shared space and mutual growth. It has served to shape us into the Wájaro community that we are. The Wájaro team has graciously stepped over toys, ignored the sibling rivalry, looked away from piles of laundry, and tolerated us Joneses when we got up on the wrong side of the bed.

There have also been seasons of burnout, times where I, Lauren, opened my front door to our team in the morning, still in my pajamas, with a severe lack of that “joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” It can be exhausting to constantly share living space with guests and co-workers. But even in seasons of being “hospitalitied out” as I call it, I feel a renewed sense of purpose when we’re able to host our extended team of Indigenous leaders from near and far. Creating more room in my home, and in my heart, for my Indigenous sisters and brothers feels sacred. It feels sacred to provide hospitality to those who must defend their faith, who must fight for their communities, and who carry a generational cross of weariness.

It’s a sacred “yes”, echoing all the way back to when Jesus mentions “I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

It is a sacred “yes” to breaking bread around my dining room table with the “nations and tribes and people and languages.”

A sacred “yes” to the chorus of prayers lifted in multiple languages as we break bread —my family, intermingled around the table, listening intently, not understanding their words — all of us being nourished by this taste of what heaven will be like.

A sacred “yes” to the wonder of it all. How did I get so lucky to participate in something so heavenly, in such a broken world?

Wájaro At The Table

 

Yet, it is this brokenness that brings us together, compelling us to pull up another chair at the table for Indigenous communities in Colombia who have long been pushed to the margins, who bear the scars of war and wave the flag of peace and hope for a reconciled future. We gather around my dining room table, bellies full of hope that our communion together will bear fruit and make an impact at the eternal banquet table. We work together so that communities can taste that sacred meal of fellowship in the here and now and the yet to come.

Creating space at the table for more diverse perspectives — voices from different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education — is a lifelong mission of mine. It is also part of Wájaro’s mission – to create space for the Indigenous voice at the table – at the table when the Church is meeting, when mission organizations are meeting, when governments and NGOs are meeting. Indigenous voices must be present when peace processes are underway and any time decisions are being made about Indigenous communities and the Indigenous church.  This table we refer to, however, is often suspended in a theoretical space.

Casa Wájaro is our effort to bring this theoretical table into physical reality. Wájaro’s vision is to create a space in the heart of Colombia for our Indigenous sisters and brothers. In this space, we can welcome people from the Church, mission organizations, politicians, NGOs, and volunteers to do real work around a real table together. We already do this work together in the deserts and mountains and jungles. Now, we need to create a permanent space in Bogotá, the nation’s capital, that is visible within the community where the Wajaro team is laying down roots. We need more room at the table for all those working together to see the Indigenous church grow and Indigenous communities flourish.

Wájaro Staying in Hammocks

We often travel to communities and work together in their homes – sleeping in their hammocks, eating the fish caught in their rivers, warming ourselves over the fires built with the kindling they have gathered. We also host Indigenous leaders in our homes when they are traveling to Bogotá – sleeping in our beds, eating our waffles, and warming their tired bodies with our jackets and extra blankets. We love this interchange of hospitality and will continue to do it through Casa Wájaro!

More than an office, Casa Wájaro will feel like their home away from home in Bogotá with dorms, a fully equipped kitchen, and plenty of space for building community. Casa Wájaro will start with a co-working space, a center for hospitality, a space to collaborate and dream. The possibilities are endless, yet the goal remains the same, to support Indigenous leaders and the Indigenous church, to see them thrive and equipped to be agents of change in their communities and throughout Colombia.

In a time where most of the developed world has settled into a rhythm of virtual life, those living on the margins have white-knuckled the last bit of inner strength to continue on in the face of an insurmountable struggle, the daily struggle to survive. For the Indigenous communities we work with, the pandemic, food insecurity, makeshift medical care, civil unrest, armed groups stealing their land and massacring their people has demonstrated now more than ever their depth of faith, resiliency, innovation, and perseverance. Casa Wájaro is the vision God gave us for such a time as this. Having a safe haven, a physical space to be together, has become more crucial than ever for those working for peace, reconciliation, and the Indigenous church here in Colombia. We need Casa Wájaro. And we need your help to get there! Please consider taking advantage of this incredible matching grant opportunity and invest now:

http://southamericamission.org/givetocasawajaro

Set the table with us.

 

Lauren Jones is co-founder of The Wájaro Foundation with her husband, Jake. They have served as SAM missionaries since 2017. She is also an artist, women’s health educator, outdoors expert, social worker, and mother of four. Lauren is passionate about living in authentic community with others and caring for populations that mainstream society tends to overlook.

 

 

 

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