The LDP Camp in Colombia was extra special for me because I got to hang out with all these impressive young students. These are the sponsored children who showed the greatest scholastic, leadership and character traits of all across Colombia, qualifying to be members of the Leadership Development Program, and to pursue their dreams of attending college in various locations around their country. They look forward to these times when they can come together for special development, training and fellowship.
Once again, I can’t describe again how very thoughtful, courteous and polite each one was towards me. Many of them knew enough English to carry on a short conversation. I would love to have had enough time to hear each one of their stories, one by one.
The meeting began and I was seated near the front with Luis and Sixto, who translated wonderfully for me. Sixto, a man from Ecuador, is the LDP Specialist for all of South America.
One of the first announcements was regarding Compassion’s partnership with Campus Crusades. They explained that attending this gathering would be voluntary for the students, but that they were encouraged to go if possible.
I was given an opportunity to speak to the students briefly, with Carlos translating. There was one special message I wanted to give them. When I was at the hotel on graduation day, I came downstairs and saw them gathering in various parts of the building, each wearing the colorful clothing provided by Compassion for each age group. I could only think, as I said to them, that “YOU are the gems of Colombia! You are the valuable, precious jewels that God will use to change communities. Each of you has great value and purpose in life, and I’m so honored to have met you!” They seemed to react very positively to these comments, and I meant every word I said.
Then we got to listen to Carlos (President of Compassion Colombia) for the next few moments. It was Father’s Day and he spoke from Ephesians 5 about loving others as Christ loved the church. He gave a summary of the Gospel and covered seven fundamentals from I Corinthians 15:1-4, which are outlined here:
- Pecado (sin)
- La Muerta (death)
- Los Obras (works)
- El Amor (love)
- Cristo (Christ)
- La Cruz (the cross)
- La Invitación (the invitation)
The Good News was that God had established communion and relationship with Himself, but the Bad News was that it was destroyed by sin, and the consequence was death. Carlos then spoke about good works, and how he spent many years trying to be a good pastor, doing lots of good deeds. He didn’t realize that the good works were also part of the Bad News, for we can never do enough to please a holy and perfect God. But the Good News is that God loved us first; it didn’t start with us. It’s all about Him — His love, His good deeds, His life, His grace.
Then he spoke of the death of Christ. Among the Jews a clean animal had to be sacrificed. If not perfect, they had to go find one. The point is that the animal was innocent; it did not do anything wrong. The same is true of Christ. He came not to do miracles, heal, give to the people or prepare the twelve disciples. The #1 reason was to die for us. Carlos said that as he understood the cross and the invitation to accept Christ’s death as his own, it changed everything — how he studies, worships, works and lives. He encouraged the LDP students to learn this week what God wants them to do with their lives, and to value their salvation like never before. It changes so much when the focus is on God rather than on self.
Carlos then prayed for us, and the students prayed for Carlos as their leader — this humble, kind, gentle man! I’m so privileged to have heard him share with these students from his heart. You see, when we get caught up in Christian ministry, we often can forget that God is the true power and source behind all that we do; it’s never about us but about Him. I know because I, too, spent many years thinking the work was all on my shoulders, or that I was somehow responsible for helping others and would receive great rewards for being faithful. It is exactly the opposite. It is never about me; it’s always about Him — His faithfulness and love towards us — and about what He is doing in and around me.