It's Colombia, Not Columbia . . . Got That?

A man boarding the Copa Airlines flight to Bogotá wore a t-shirt that corrected a common spelling confusion of a nation in South America: It’s Colombia, not Columbia. All right, I get that. Now what?

I was flying alone to Bogotá to spend 10 days with people I didn’t know and who speak a language I don’t know. Mine was a flight of faith . . . an assurance of things hoped for and a conviction of things not seen. I’d been seeking, and failing, to find an independent, like-minded international church planter. I figured a man I met briefly at a conference two months previous could be the church planter I’d been seeking. So I coordinated plans to go to Bogotá to get a first-hand experience of the man and the church.

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Javier Beltran and his young family started Iglesia Anónima out of nearly nothing a year ago. The church began with a few people in addition to Javier’s wife, Zoad, and their children Sofie and Samuel. My late-night arrival at the Beltran family’s 10th floor apartment in crowded Bogota was awkward at first. I was alone and completely dependent on strangers in a land completely strange to me. But, in the midst of my silent prayers I repeated, This Javier knows Jesus. That will make all the difference. And it did. The visit was a joy. Sofie Beltran served as primary translator for us. Javier and his family quickly became akin to my family. 

As the days went by and I experienced the Beltran family and the people of the church . . . I saw that they worked tirelessly, shared generously and lived the gospel. On a Saturday, we fought through Bogota’s constantly horrible traffic to get to an inner-city park. There the people of Anónima brought to migrant Venezuelans church-made sandwiches as well as beverages, clothing and the gospel of Christ delivered straight from the Scriptures.

The next morning, tireless and energized, Javier, Zoad, Sofie and Samuel and several others arrived early at a local school to set up Iglesia Anónima for worship and after-service fellowship. Several mid-week discipleship groups and other ministry activities also require the entire church’s care. 

Iglesia Anónima is not yet strong enough to fully support Javier and his family, so early Monday morning, Javier took off on a tiny scooter to get to a part-time job at an advertising firm. He also teaches courses on creativity at a local college. In May 2020, Javier expects to graduate with a master’s degree from The Master’s Seminary in California. As part of the church’s partnership, FiveStone Churches is providing financial support to Iglesia Anonima.

So what brought an Anglo man, speaking only English, to Bogotá, Colombia? Javier said rightly: It has been God’s providence that has united us. I hope that God and His word will be the center of our brotherhood. We will work together so that the kingdom of Christ increases.

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