After visiting nine churches in Medellin (some multiple times) over a four-month period, we are very excited to announce that we have found a church, which meets right here on campus! At least we’ll be able to skip the cramped taxi rides on Sundays.
We are now attending a Lutheran church plant called Misión Evangélica Luterana “Emaus” (from Emmaus of Luke 24:13-15). The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (http://www.ielco.org) has not made many inroads in this country. Emmaus Church is the only Lutheran church in all of Medellin (a city of 3.5 million people) and only one of twenty local Lutheran churches in Colombia.
Still, we were extremely attracted to the fact that Emmaus is a church plant. Regular attendance is about 25 people, and compared to many other large and established churches here in Medellin, what is most needed at this time is more human resources (i.e. people who can help establish and grow the church).
Meet the Pastors
We have been privileged in getting to know Atahualpa and Angelica Hernandez, who pastor the Emmaus Church and hail from Bogota, Colombia.
Atahualpa (whose parents named him after the last emperor of the Inca Empire) is a former graduate of the Biblical Seminary of Colombia. His wife, Angelica currently works part-time as part of the Student Life Department here on campus and is in charge of our kids Sunday School.
They have two small children, Mariana and Sara. Both Atahualpa and Angelica have been extremely gracious in incorporating us into the church and in modeling what it means to be true servants of the Lord.
Both Atahualpa and Angelica shared with us how they had been praying for additional help in extending the gospel here in our barrio (Robledo). Well, it appears that our arrival, coincides with additional answers to their prayers:
- Adi and Hans arrived in January to begin their studies here at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia. They are sponsored by the Lutheran Church and have agreed to serve as our youth pastors.
- A recent half-day activity for the children in our neighborhood has opened the door for Emmaus Church to begin ministering to needy children every Saturday afternoon in a very depressed area of our neighborhood.
- The Park Street Church youth group will be coming down in late July to hold an English camp and/or a VBS as part of the church’s evangelistic efforts and to let our neighborhood know about the Lutheran church in their area.
Called to Service
All of the Karakeys have jumped in with both feet. Gustavo is currently helping on the worship team with guitar and vocals. Rochelle, Emilio and Caroline are helping to teach an ESL class which meets on Saturdays. The ELS class has wide appeal (from kids, to youth to adults) and forms part of the church’s service and outreach to this community.
Both Caroline and Emilio are involved in a small youth group. This group meets twice a month for a teaching and social activity, while Natalie is involved in her Sunday school class encouraging her younger friends. Hopefully, in the near future, we will help setup a website and Facebook page for the youth group.
A Time of Thanksgiving
We feel extremely blessed to be a part of this church community.
We have always desired a greater integration between our neighborhood, our church and our work in order that we might be able to invest deeply in relationships in a consistent way. It’s what our friend Simon Fowler calls building “social capital” (see the rWorld for details).
Well, that desire is finally being realized right before our eyes. Our pastors live next door, and most of the church members live within walking distance of the church.
We ask for your prayers for this young and small church as it seeks to make an impact in this low-income area.
Finally, thank you all for your prayers and support that allows us to minister in this wonderful city and country!
All of God’s blessings to you.
Gustavo, Rochelle, Emilio, Caroline and Natalie
- Our children are being challenged in their Spanish-speaking school. Please pray that the Lord gives them encouragement to lift their spirits and strength to study hard.
- Gustavo begins teaching a second class (the letters of Paul) on April 10th in addition to his already busy schedule. Please pray that he is able to keep a balance between work, family, church and PhD.
- We are currently at 90% monthly support needs. We are praying for 15 additional partners for this work.
- It is still our desire to purchase a vehicle. We thank those who have already given towards our car fund. We have raised $4500 thus far. Any special donations in the coming months will go towards this expenditure.
- Our Weymouth condominium will be going on the market next week. Please pray that we are successful in selling it by the end of this summer.
- Rochelle and Emilio have been beset by various non-serious but annoying illnesses. Please pray that they are both brought back to full health and soon!