Grupo Andino

Unity, Focus, Family & A Purpose in Common

Some of you have read the well known book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors. I’m writing this as Diane and I travel back home after participating in a retreat of the Andean Group of Churches (Grupo Andino) in Bogotá, Colombia.

I want to report the congregations in the Andean area are Alive. I am very excited about the special time that we got to share with our brothers that lead the churches in Lima and Trujillo, Peru, Quito, Ecuador, Caracas, Venezuela, and the churches in Cali, Medellín, Zipaquirá and of course, Bogota, in Colombia. It was in everyone present’s opinion the best retreat that we have had since we started to meet together as a group, in Caracas in 2005. Each one of the retreats seems to have contributed in building unity, focus, while also giving a sense of family and a purpose in common.

The workers in Bogota did an excellent job in preparing the site for our meetings and all the organizational details. The retreat happened at a location that was a beautiful valley in the outskirts of Bogota (just an hour away). Luis Valenzuela, who leads the Campus in Bogota, was in charge of not only organizing the event but also keeping us on track and served as the time keeper to make sure that we were staying in step with the program of activities. Each morning I, that serve as the Teacher for the Nashville Church and coordinator for the churches in the Mid-South of the South American missionary efforts, led the group in a study of the book of Philippians, focused on the emphasis that Paul makes regarding relationships and unity. Flavio Uribe, evangelist of the church in Bogota, taught a class each day on how to preach, which also included an evaluation of the messages that five of the brothers put together; these brothers were brave enough to preach with the purpose of being critiqued by their peers to help them grow in this area. Truly, this exercise helped us all in the continual striving to better improve how we present the message. Flavio also taught a series of classes about the construction of the church and led us in a daily discussion of this important subject.

On another subject, along with my wife Diane, we taught a class regarding marriage and family life. Diane had the opportunity to lead various classes, with the sisters, based in part on the book A Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Virginia Lefler. To end the retreat, we had the opportunity of joining the Bogota church in their Sunday service and although about 70 couples were away at a marriage retreat the place was packed. Cesar Herrera, the evangelist in the church in Lima, led our thoughts through communion and after that Flavio Uribe preached a powerful sermon based on Mark 5, the demon possessed man from Gerasenes. There were many people visiting the church, including a family that was passing by looking for a church, came in and were so impacted that they wanted to find a way to be connected. At the end of service we were all celebrating as two people got baptized.  When we left from there we were invited to lunch prepared by some of the sisters from Bogotá. As always, saying goodbye is not easy, specially since each one must get back to their country. Nevertheless, we are very encouraged to meet again in March of 2009 to celebrate the Tenth anniversary of the church in Caracas, Venezuela, currently led by Werner and Leticia Galeano. I asked for your prayers for all the work and for social and economical stability in these countries in the northern part of South America. Please pray for God to give them peace and for the doors for the gospel to continue to open, while our brothers continue Alive, preaching the message of God.

Steve Brown

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