The seed is bearing fruit: Growth in Langham Preaching Colombia

19 August 2011

Dionisio Orjuela and Igor Améstegui

Igor Améstegui (right), Latin American coordinator,
handing over books sets for the team
coordinated by Dionisio Orjuela (left).

Over the past 10 years, the church in Colombia has not been growing in numbers as it did in previous decades.  Some of the reasons for this include the prevalence of disunity amongst the churches, the influence of prosperity theology, and a growing secularism and nominalism amongst the church members.  Added to this, the level of preaching has not been strong.

But there are signs of change, as the Colombian preaching movement develops across the country, influencing not only the participants in the regular national workshops, but many other preachers who join the small preachers groups that are expanding in size and influence across the country.  At a recent seminar, nearly 70 pastors met, from a range of churches – Presbyterian, Christian Aliance, Cuadrangular, Anglican, Assemblies of God, Community of Faith, Unidad Cristiana Universitaria, and a significant number of indpendent churches.  They came from different cities and geographical regions of Colombia: Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, Ibagué, Bucaramanga, Cali, Armenia.

Level 3 participants – Bucaramanga

Latin American coordinator, Igor Améstegui, writes: ‘This is a group of pastors and leaders who are immersed in the task of preaching. They value, assimilate and apply the teaching given in a way which is reflected in their growth, year by year, as Bible expositors.’

A key feature of the training is the importance of each participant becoming an active member of an escuelita (small preaching group) in his or her town.  This not only provides on-going encouragement, but also extends the training to others in local churches.  Igor continues: ‘The group led by Eliana Ortix from Medellin meets every Monday. People gather from 4 different churches, and they study the text together and prepare together what they are going to preach in the four churches the next Sunday. What they preach is the result of the group study. The people in the group say how much this experience has built them up since the first seminar. They have been meeting for more than two years, and have worked on a series of Biblical books and themes, including the parables of Jesus, the book Revelation, and other Bible books.’

The Colombian coordinator, Dionisio Orjuela, writes: ‘The great majority of them are profoundly grateful to Langham Preaching for thinking of them for this programme. For some, the training has been a turning point in their life and ministry. The majority see the fruit of their growth in their own churches. Others say that they can no longer preach as they did three years ago. Their respect for and responsibility to the Word of God and Bible exposition has grown significantly. The training programme has also been helpful in creating and developing friendship links between pastors and leaders in different churches, denominations and cities, so that they have learned to relate not only as brothers but as friends.

Facilitator Alex Chiang expounding the Word

One of the pastors in Medellin, Mercedes Quintero Ortíz, explains how the work is bearing fruit in the city. ‘I come from the city of Medellin, and have 6 pastors in my ‘escuelita’, who have been there from the start.  Our brother Jorge Atiencia taught us that ‘the Word, once it has been unleashed, slips out and we have no idea where it will reach’, and this is the case in our escuelita, where some particular things have happened:

  • two of the pastors are already running an escuelita in their churches, where they share what they have learned in the Langham programme;
  • another has started up escuelitas with pastors in other churches. This same pastor was appointed as the regional director of Christian education in the Cuadrangular church last week, and this was because, when he spoke about the project, they were so delighted that they asked him to do this work in zone 7, which consists of 53 churches;
  • one of the female pastors and I have been invited to teach the pastors in our Bible Institute, in a sort of internal standardisation for our mission.

So as you see, the seed planted in our country is bearing fruit. As Colombians, we give thanks and pray for you all, that the Lord will supply you with all his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.’

Langham Preaching Colombia is continuing with the monthly local groups, where each ‘school of preachers’ is deepening their knowledge and experience of the Old Testament, following a monthly agenda which each group leader received at the last national seminar.

‘I am very grateful to be part of God’s movement’, said Dionisio, ‘which is helping churches in a critically important area. I am convinced that the greatest contribution we can make to a church and to a nation is to help its pastors to be better preachers of the Word of God. That is why I am here.’