We started the year strong. We had a vision and developed a plan to impact our community and mission field. This was a long term plan that would hopefully guide our next 10 years of ministry. We even came up with a catchy slogan, “Vision 2020” and I was pretty sure I had come up with the most original catch phrase ever. 😉 All of a sudden in March, everything was put on hold. (Check out our blog entry for a full account of the timeline of the pandemic in Medellin.)
Maybe you can relate to our experience. Maybe you had lofty goals at work, at church, or for your family. Those plans may not have panned out. So…what was our personal journey navigating this pandemic as individuals, parents, and missionaries?
We had an idea of what life/ministry should look like but they all got jumbled like pieces in a puzzle box. So where do you start when life gets jumbled around? We had to search for our corner and the edge pieces first. In our case, those pieces represented figuring out how to do the essentials under quarantine: shopping with restricted movement, virtual school for the girls, reorganizing our family routine, continuing our walk with God, and staying connected to our community of believers at our local church.
Connecting the edge pieces
Overall, getting things sorted within our family was pretty straight forward. We figured out life routine a couple weeks in and adjusted to the norms of doing errands. However, the hardest challenge for our family was adapting to virtual school. Imagine being a second language learner; you’ve adjusted to a classroom in a foreign language but all of a sudden all the visual and non-verbal cues you were relying on to communicate get replaced by indirect interaction, computer screens, cultural nuances, language, and technical challenges with video conferencing. There has been a lot of crying and frustration but we have also been witnesses to God’s love. We’ve had the opportunity to have various productive and encouraging conversations with the girls’ teachers and school administrators. These opportunities have given us a chance to show Christ’s love and compassion to our school family.
Staying connect to our local church community has had a different set of challenges. One of the early conversations I had with our local church pastor was on how to continue being the church. The obvious surface level component to church was the continuation of the Sunday gatherings. We decided to stream pre-recorded Sunday gatherings since we found live streaming had complications for our audience due to various technical reasons. Since we could not meet in one place to film, the Ruiz family would film at home the worship/message, another believer would do the welcome/announcements at their home, and I would compile all the videos into one Sunday morning service. This multi site production has been a growing process for all of us involved but we are grateful because the experience has made us a stronger team.
For the last three months, our main focus has been to encourage and equip local church leaders, and adapt our own church’s ministries to meet the needs of its members. Adapting meant helping the church transition to virtual Sunday gatherings, navigating discipleship programs through video conferencing, and re-thinking how to be a light in our local community. One example of encouraging and equipping local church leaders meant giving a pastoral family the opportunity to rest. Many church leaders here have been on the go since the pandemic regulations were enacted. Running on adrenaline is lifesaving but only for a short period. Without change, it can be irreparably damaging to ones body, mind, emotions, and relationships. We’ve had the privilege of helping our fellow Colombia friend in ministry to stop, rest, and re-center their life on their personal wellness. The other day, my friend told me that it was the first time since the pandemic started that he experienced joy in his personal prayer time with God.
Seeing the picture on the puzzle
We are starting to see the puzzle pieces come together. Towards the end of 2019, we had identified 3 areas that we thought were foundational building blocks for the growth of the Colombian church. We thought we would have to scrap our original vision for 2020 when the quarantine started. However, we now see an urgency to implement and develop the following 3 ministries:
- Helping the local churches understand the purpose/calling of the church – This crisis has many churches in Colombia feeling like they have been tumbled around and are trying to re-orient themselves. Our plan is to walk along with these Colombian churches through a mentorship program that helps assess whether they are on target with the Biblical mission of the church. Thankfully we will not be doing this alone. We have access to a ministry from our sending agency that was specifically created to help re-orient and transform churches so that they stay on mission.
- Helping children fall in love with the Word of God by developing a firm identity in Christ – Jesus told his disciples, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” We don’t want quarantine to be a hinderance to children receiving the good news and to grow by walking with Jesus. We noticed early on that traditional Sunday school activities couldn’t be conveniently transferred home. Due to limited mobility, many people do not have access to craft supplies and some families may not have the economic resources to purchase materials. As a result, we started making Youtube content with small or limited income churches/families in mind with a specific emphasis in involving parents in kid’s church. (Check out our YouTube channel!)
- Helping develop the wholistic well being of church/ministry leaders – Like the friend we mentioned earlier, there are many pastoral families that are running on empty. And in some situations, they were running on empty before the pandemic. We see an urgent need to address the wholistic well being of church and ministry leaders. Our enemy’s tactic has been to pick on the weary. Our prayer and hope is to help pastoral families to stop, rest, and refocus in Christ, who is the only one who can give true peace and rest in the midst of suffering. This will happen in partnership with another ministry related to our sending organization.
We believe we are at the brink of witnessing God’s awesome handiwork. Only He is able to take something that causes suffering and make it into something life giving.
The extra pieces…
Seems like discipleship and mentoring have been dominated by phone or zoom calls. Anna and I have had the opportunity to participate in group settings and in 1:1 studies. We are both encouraged to see the individuals we are engaged with in conversations are walking closer with God in the midst of crisis. He is good!
May was the first time in 8 weeks that the girls were allowed to go out of the apartment. They were happy to touch the ground (we live on in a high rise) and collect flowers. They can only be out 3 times a week, for no more than 20 minutes. Those few minutes out have been good for their soul. 😀
We’ve been blown away by the online visibility for the Sunday services and kid’s church ministry. We’ve noticed that our congregation has been bold in inviting their non-church going friends to watch along with them (from their owns homes 😀 ). To our surprise, many of them have been watching and learning. As a result, our pastor has been leading Bible studies during the week with each of the families that wanted to learn more.
It also seems we’ve hit a nerve with the kid’s church ministry. Our goal was to meet an immediate need within our local congregation but intentionally branded the video series as “Discovering the Bible – Kids” so that it could be used at any church without feeling they were using another church’s material. We are using the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook, which shares the Christ connection at the end of each story. The response has been phenomenal. The family of small churches from across Medellin, Colombia, and even in other countries have expressed gratitude that even with the quarantine, there is spiritual guidance intentionally designed for kids.
On a personal note, it has been a joy to have the Kim girls involved in this project. Their participation has made the videos feel relatable for kids watching across Latin America. Even the kids and teachers at their school have been watching and benefiting from God’s word.
There are many physical needs right now across the city. One way that you can help is through the Embera Bead Project. The Embera Katio are an indigenous group in Colombia and while they have protected land, many are displaced and marginalized. Some make their way to a big cities like Medellin but do not have the resources or life skills to establish themselves in a healthy way. This is where our missionary friends come in. They’ve had the opportunity to help them navigate the challenges of living in a big city by establishing a self-sustaining business that provides income and work for the displaced families in the city. This ministry opened opportunities to share the good news of Christ. If you would like to find out more about them, please visit the following link: Embera Bead Project
- Ask the Lord to deepen our love for Him, and to grant us wisdom for life and ministry.
- Wisdom for Anna as she has been spearheading/managing/teaching/helping the girls with virtual school
- Praise the Lord that Lucia and Noelia are progressing in their ability to understand and speak Spanish but would also appreciate prayer as adjusting to virtual school has been mentally and emotionally challenging for our second language learners.
- Pray each one of us will develop deep, meaningful, long-lasting friendships here, despite social distancing.
- Praise the 1-day workshop to encourage and equip children’s ministry workers in Colombia back in February had a positive impact.
- Pray for continuing insight to the continually changing rules/regulations for the pandemic and to have the foresight to anticipate and help our family and local church.
- Pray for one of the people Kyu is mentoring. He is so close to professing Christ as his personal Savior.
We are praying for you as well. We are aware of the challenges the US is facing right now but we can only pray for things that are made known to us, so please email us with specific prayer requests (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call us directly to our US Skype number 614-388-9555.
Thank you partners!
Thank you partners once again for your continued support. We know these are challenging times. Your sacrificial giving, prayers, and advocacy makes our work possible in Colombia. Your investment enabling us to encourage the local church and walk with them through this crisis. We look forward to sharing the awesome things God is down in Latin America. Thank you for letting us be your hands and feet on the field here in Medellin, Colombia!
Investing in missions
With the downturn in the economy, it may seem like a crazy thing for us to ask you to consider investing in missions. However, we also recognize that you may be one of the people out there that in your personal journey with God have felt a burning need to obey His calling for you to participe in Kingdom building. Therefore, we would prayerfully ask you to consider if He would have you support the work here in Colombia.
I’d like to give TeamKim a special gift or invest as a reoccurring financial partner:
You can give through our Avant website. https://avantministries.org/give
Missionary ID: 84815
Missionary Name: Kyubum and Anna Kim