We met this old man walking on a Colombian street. The helplessness on his face impacted us, because it reflects the heart of 50 million more Colombians who groan under war, violence, and the hopelessness of trusting in the things of the world.
His despair brought to our mind the heart of Christ: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
Colombians have sought happiness in finances, education, political and social solutions, addictions, and in the vanity of the world. Finding these empty, they have turned to non-biblical religious sects and fads.
A false gospel has permeated the "Christian" church, teaching that salvation comes through being a "good" person, attending church services of any sort, giving financially or having ecstatic emotional experiences are evidences of salvation.
This false gospel unfortunately springs from pastors who at best are misinformed, and at worst are preying upon millions of naive souls.
Though it is hard to believe, most Colombian pastors have never had a single Bible class and rely solely on their own opinions and understanding of Scripture to lead their congregations.
As these false teachings spread, further hopelessness grows as those trusting in the deceptions find them ineffective to address their greatest need — that they do not truly know Christ.
God knew the desperate need of humanity and addressed it in the Great Commission.
What Colombia truly needs is not just political peace or humanitarian aid, but the power of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform the hearts of her people (Romans 1:16).
What Colombians need is churches shepherd by pastors established upon the Truth of the Word, so that they may produced Christ-like disciples to become salt and light in the midst of Colombia's darkness.
"Baptizing them" implies belonging to Christ, and that means understanding, receiving and abiding in the true and full gospel.
He calls us to follow Him as our Lord and Savior, as His Word commands and not according to men's opinions (which bring souls "captive to philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, ..." Colossians 2:8).
Christ said that making disciples requires more than just conversion, it also requires "teaching them to observe all that He has commanded..."
Christ-like disciples come to spiritual maturity by being part of a church that teaches and encourages them to live out Christ according to the Scriptures.
Pastors that know how to correctly interpret and preach God's word will not only produce churches with true, mature believers, but will also germinate the next generation of sound Shepherds and Christ-like disciples.
And this is the true and final solution to Colombia's social crisis.
In practical terms, the goal of our ministry is to train and equip pastors and church leaders "for the work of the ministry" with the knowledge and tools necessary to develop churches with Christ-like disciples.
Our privilege is to help develop a seminary program in Colombia so that it may become a TMAI member school and, Lord willing, a permanent institution for following generations of believers (2 Tim. 2:2).
To accomplish our goal, we will be joining Fernando and Julia Jaimes who have been serving in Colombia since November 2016.
Ricardo is privileged to serve alongside Fernando as a professor, teaching Old & New Testament, Hermeneutics, Theology, Pastoral Ministries, Counseling (or any subject as needed).
Instead of building a traditional mortar-and-brick seminary in one location, professors will take turns teaching quarterly intensive week-long, or weekend sessions at several sites, hosted by local churches throughout the country, allowing students to remain serving in their current churches and producing an immediate fruit in their preaching, congregations and communities.
Following the biblical pattern (baptizing & teaching) the TMAI plan will allow us to intimately work with the local church. In addition to Ricardo serving in the training institute, we will also be serving in Bogotá, helping the Jaimes with a biblical church plant — a rare commodity in Colombia.
We are praying about the possibility of starting a church plant in Pereira — a city of about 450,000 that, to our knowledge, does not have a single biblical church.
For us, the possibility of serving the Lord in Colombia is an overwhelming privilege. We believe there is no greater honor than serving the Lord (and especially in a place with such a need as Colombia). As the word says, "how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news."
Conscious of the difficult times in which we are living, and of Christ's example of leaving heaven to proclaim the Father's Word as a "missionary" to this earth, we encourage you to prayerfully consider if God is calling you to impact the lives of thousands of Colombians by being part of this ministry, at a time such as this, and in a nation with such a great need.