Latin America Prayer Update
Written By Alethia Stendal
This month has been so far a very exciting one. Several radio stations have been installed in the southwestern part of Colombia, in one of the most difficult areas in recent history called Cauca. It is a department in Colombia known for its difficult indigenous tribes and ever-strengthening FARC guerrilla groups. The department’s capital, Popayan is a catholic fortress, known by many as the Vatican of the Americas.For two weeks our team was engaged in this area, beefing up the radio stations and presenting the film La Montaña. I don’t think in the history of our country any group of people foreign to these indigenous tribes have ever brought a big screen, popcorn and a night of fun to these camps. It was a sight to see! The movie was presented to several tribes during several nights. It is remarkable to note how different they all are and how enthusiastically they all received the film.
One that stood out to us all was the Páez tribe. Coincidentally, one of the main characters from our movie, the FARC Commander Noel, is a Paez Indian. Alexander Ramirez, the actor who plays Noel is usually never recognized during our presentations; for the most part people seem to be interested in other characters. It was not the case with the Paez Indians. The movie was presented twice by their request and the whole tribe watched intently, from the oldest grandmother to the smallest child. Alex was able to come for the second showing and as soon as he got out of the car, the excitement in the camp was overwhelming! “Noel! Noel!” cried all the children as they ran to hug Alex.
This community of Paez Indians was remarkable. Displaced from their lands by an avalanche caused by the eruption of a volcano, they live in little huts made from plastic on dirt floors. I have never seen such poverty in Colombia. The government aid given to the tribe has been stolen by tribal leaders and only distributed among half of the tribe. The half that have received the aid discriminate against this community because they are Christians. They have been displaced from their land and rejected by their own people for Christ’s sake. But the 250 people that make up this Christian Community, with over 50 children in their two room school (they also use as a church) are the most joyful, thankful Christians I have ever met. I asked some of the leaders what they needed, what could be done for them. They answered “Our church is doing great! We have a clean word! Russell gave us Bibles. What we need are more Bibles for the other churches around here that aren’t doing too well.”
I also asked them what their expectations for the future were, what they expected would happen to them. Expecting to hear them say that they longed to be reassigned to new land or be aided by the church or the government, I was humbled and deeply moved to hear them reply, “Our expectations for the future are that we can be part of the change of Colombia. We want to contribute to see this nation turn to God.” It is not everyday that you encounter such thankfulness in adversity and such joy in poverty. There was nothing left to say, rather than us ministering to them, they taught us all a valuable lesson in faith, love and hope. One tribe leader said smiling, “We do have needs as you can see, but God says to be thankful in ALL things. That is what He says, and we will obey Him.”
For three consecutive days La Montaña also was shown in the main theatre in the city of Popayan. Every showing was packed. Even a group of Nuns came to one showing and requested we show the film to their all-girl school. Over 5,000 people came out to see La Montaña and the response was incredible. We even got to go to a juvenile prison, where the film received a standing ovation and several of the young 13 to 18 year old boys, some of which are paying up to 8 year sentences, were in tears.
From presentations at shopping malls to muddy camps where people stood the two hours to watch the film, La Montaña was shown throughout Cauca. God has the most special people hidden in the most unlikely corners of our country and we were honored to get to know some of them. We could have stayed in that part of the country for weeks and weeks. But it is a 15-hour drive from Bogota in good conditions so eventually we had to return home. With 10 new radio stations installed and airing in that part of the country a new door and opportunity has opened in a totally different area of Colombia. We are praying for a base out there to make these areas more accessible and to be able to continue to work for and with our new friends. God is doing incredible things in this area bordering the country of Ecuador and we are excited.
Continue to pray for this area, for the Indigenous tribes there, for the men, women and children who know God and who want to be a part of the change. Also, please pray for the right people, the finances and everything else to maintain these radio stations on the air.
We will continue presentations of the film here in Colombia during the next month and a half. This morning the film was presented in one of the main police stations here in Bogota to over 50 police officers. Another area of serious corruption in our country! Our team will be in several universities in Cartagena up on the Northern Coast presenting the film by the end of April. Please pray for us. We are also planning a tour of La Montaña from Florida through Minnesota for the month of June. If you are interested in us presenting the film and sharing some of the things God is doing with it in Colombia, let us know!
Written by Lisa Stendal
Colombia Para Cristo
For more information on our tour through the USA, the videos on the Paez Indians, trailers, pictures and other cool things check us out on facebook at: www.facebook.com/lamontanacolombia
We count it a privilege to serve the people of Colombia with you. Your prayers are invaluable to the Stendal family and our friends in Colombia.
Spirit of Martyrdom, CEO
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