The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126:3)
In November of 2005 the church leaders of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, decided to once again meet together after a long time of not having done so. These countries had formed a Geographic Sector of the Andean churches which was named Grupo Andino (the Andean Group) but we had stopped working together for a while.
We met up in Caracas – Venezuela, where we had our reunion where our relationships would be rekindled in the midst of many trials. Five years have now passed and we can really see how God has changed and worked in our relationships with one another. We must also give credit for this great blessing to the efforts and support of the Nashville church, particularly to the great efforts of our brother Steve Brown.
Last month (September) we had our IX Andean Group Leadership Retreat in the city of Quito – Ecuador, which coincided with the Fifteenth Anniversary of the church in Quito.
It all started on Saturday, September 9th at the home of a disciples that lives in the outskirts of Quito. Many brothers arrived and we kicked off the time together by singing to our God. After that, we split up men and women to have parallel lessons taught by our brothers Steve and Diane Brown who had come from the Rio Grande Valley church were they recently moved to.
After that we got together where we were challenged to come together with a craft made up of recycled materials. It was fun to witness the creativity of the brothers and the many figures that were made to represent the church’s anniversary.
The morning ended with a very inspiring class about the mission taught to us by our brother Flavio Uribe, who is the evangelist of the ICOC in Bogota, Colombia. At the end of the class we had a delicious barbecue, we ate together and enjoyed a great time of fellowship.
On Sunday morning we all arrived at the service that took place at a beautiful facility called Círculo Militar. It was a very impressive morning. There were songs, performances by the teen ministry, a cultural dance, the welcome was done by Mario and Mireya Gómez – the church leaders of the church in Quito, communion was shared by César Herrera – evangelist of the church in Lima, the message of the offering was shared by our Ecuadorian brother Jaime Gonzáles and the powerful sermon was preached by Steve Brown, teacher of the Rio Grande Valley Church; we were able to witness how God glorified Himself through His Word, through the more than 500 in attendance, without counting the large number of children that came and overflowed the kids ministry. The incredible part is that a large number of people expressed a desire to study the bible.
From Monday through Wednesday we had our Leader’s Retreat that for the most part took place at the church’s building. It was very encouraging to have daily morning devotionals shared with us from Steve Brown about the Holy Spirit. The discussions that we were able to have that stemmed from this subject were very stimulating. It was also incredibly enriching to hear good news from the leaders there from Colombia; Quito – Ecuador; Arequipa, Trujillo and Lima, Peru; Caracas – Venezuela; and from the US in Nashville, TN; Chatanooga, TN and Rio Grande Valley, Texas.
Another great accomplishment was the commitment assumed by the churches to work in unity and to take solid steps to share our human and doctrinal resources. This will be evidenced in a more fluid communication between the brothers in our churches and those have been successful in specialty ministries as to inspire and train those who help with similar ministries in other congregations.
Besides all this we’ll have more communication and focus in the areas of missions, restorations, doctrine and kids programs. It is with much joy that we also talked about about the idea of putting together video news to share with our congregations regularly.
It was truly a great time, enjoying the brotherhood and the refreshing breeze of unity and teamwork that we wish to maintain, conserve and further develop. Each one of us returned to their respective churches with a deep gratitud for the hospitality of our Ecuatorian brothers and with the expectation of what God will do in each one of the churches until the next retreat which God willing will be in Medellín – Colombia, in May of 2011.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126: 5-6)