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Colombia: Encouragement for Couples Ministering in “Red Zones”

Isabella raised her hands in tearful but joyful praise while worshiping at a retreat for couples who minister in Colombia’s “red zones.” She and her husband, Andrés, had travelled to one of Colombia’s larger cities to rest in God’s presence for three days, free of the stress of working in an area controlled by a right-wing paramilitary group.

“These three days that we have been here, I have many blessings,” Isabella said near the end of the retreat. “Our spiritual selves are being refreshed.”

Isabella and Andrés were one of 20 couples who attended the retreat in November 2019. In addition to heartfelt worship, they enjoyed inspirational and encouraging messages from a Brazilian pastor and shared meals together on a sprawling gated property among green hills, ponds and flower gardens.

In their three decades of ministry, the couple had never had a chance to pause from their work. Just a week before the retreat, Isabella had cried out to God, “I need a break!” Days later, she and her husband received the invitation.

“The Lord answered me immediately,” she said, crying. “These days I have been here I have felt so happy. You have given us honour. I leave this place strengthened. I was praying last night, ‘God, bless those people who donated the offering for this so I can come here to this place and I can be here.’”

Another couple, Gloria and her husband, David, were moved by the testimonies of couples who face challenges similar to their own. They were encouraged to know that they are not alone.

“I feel like I am being fed because they listen,” Gloria said. “We listen to what they are going through, and then they can see what we are going through. We can encourage one another and it is the atmosphere, an affinity. When we were singing ‘You Are Faithful,’ I could feel that everyone in that room knew what that meant. It is truly the faithfulness of God in the midst of where you are. I could feel it from my brothers and sisters next to me. It is an affinity. It is the same Spirit.”

Esteban and Maria Hernandez, another couple who attended the VOM-sponsored retreat, enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and fellowship with others who serve faithfully in similar circumstances. Esteban also appreciated the Bibles he received to take back to his church.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ because of this great event and the Bibles that you have provided,” he said. “I pray that God in His riches and glory gives you great blessings. Every person that has given anything for this event and the Bibles, for all those blessings that you have given, may God bless you so greatly. You are all part of every soul that I am winning in my difficult area.”

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