Pastor Leonides and his wife Kristina met me at the airport. She speaks English but he does not. He has 11 brothers and sisters and 3 brothers work together in the ministry. They call the church, ‘The house of prayer.’ (Casa de Oracion).
Johan Maasbach Mission holds an annual Evangelization school in Bogota as they do in various parts of the world. It is a three-week course and their friends in ministry come to teach in these schools. I was asked by John Maasbach to teach in the one in Bogota.
They asked me to teach on the Life of Christ. It is the major subject of Miracle Bible College, in Cape Town. Dr. Roy M. Gray developed this course and also most of the other courses we use with permission. I sat under his teaching and mentorship in Arizona at Miracle Valley Bible College. It changed my life so I believe the same material is changing many other lives in the same way. What is special about it is the fact that it is purely the Bible speaking and not an interpretation of the Bible from a denominational point of view. Our only textbook at Miracle Valley was the Bible. It is the same in our Miracle Bible College. In Miracle Valley the teachers concentrated on the life of Christ and taught us to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (not the gospel of any denomination or religious institution).
Dr. Gray used the method of questions and answers, like Plato, Socrates and Jesus used to do when teaching their disciples, because it allows them to think and meditate on the teaching. He called his method ‘research questions’ and ‘suggested answers’ and encouraged each individual to work out his or her own salvation ‘with fear and trembling’.
The other thing that was very important at MVBC was memorizing Scriptures. Once you know a scripture it stays with you – unlike school subjects that you learn to pass exams! The Word of God is a living word and once you know it, it abides in you and grows in you! That is what Jesus meant when He said, ‘abide in My Word and let My Word abide in you and you shall bear much fruit.’ He is the Vine and we are the branches! Without Him we can bear no fruit.
Dr. Gray divided the four Gospels into 64 Journeys of Christ. We are busy filming the whole series to have it on DVD. It is a mammoth task, but we have progressed more than half way with it now.
I taught on 5 journeys and afterwards Kristina Hugo offered to translate the entire course into Spanish! What a blessing that would be! Then we can reach the entire Spanish- speaking world with The Life of Christ!
In Journey 2 I explained how Mary’s heart was pierced so that many other hearts may be revealed. Sometimes our heartaches prepare us to reach the hearts of other people. I showed how the Word of God is a sharp edged sword that pierces to the dividing of spirit, soul and bone and marrow. (Hebrews 4:12) and how the people’s hearts were ‘cut’ when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:37)
Simeon and Anna were there when baby Jesus was presented in the Temple. Both of them knew and believed the Scriptures concerning the Savior of the world and their expectations were met on that day. Simeon prophesied to Jesus’ parents and to the baby Jesus and used scriptures. Prophecy should always line up with the Scriptures or else be rejected.
I explained in Journey 5 how Jesus overcame temptation of the devil by using the ‘sword of the spirit’. Matthew , Mark and Luke record the temptation and tells us that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Sometimes we need to be tested to see if we really believe the Word of God! Jesus had just heard an audible voice of God after being baptized by John the Baptist that He is the beloved Son of God and now the devil tempts Him with the thoughts: ‘if you are the Son of God, then turn these stones into bread!’ In other words, use your divine powers to satisfy your own desires!
II Timothy 2:15 reminds us to study the Word of God so that we can accurately divide the word of truth and be approved of God. James 1:14 explains how we are tempted because of our own lust.
Jesus used the Word of God to overcome the temptations of the devil. He also taught his disciples to pray: ‘lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.’ Later on He also explained, ‘pray that you enter not into temptation.’
So the three-pronged instrument Jesus used to overcome temptations of the devil was fasting, prayer and the Word of God.
Once he overcame temptation he left the wilderness in the power of the Spirit and fame went out about Him. What we overcome in our lives becomes a spiritual force.
In our Harvester Membership Decree we learn what Dr. Gray taught us: ‘As we learn to do just as He tells us to do in His Word, life completely changes for us. We come to have an entirely new attitude towards life, things and people.’
The Word of God is ‘bread’ to our spirits and we need ‘our daily bread’ in order to grow strong in spirit, in soul and in body.
Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. Therefore He can be a faithful High Priest to us that understands our human nature very well and is able to help those who put their trust in Him.
In Journey 10 we looked at Christ at the well of Jacob in conversation with the Samaritan woman. We learn some valuable lessons from that episode. Jesus’ human nature is clearly seen here in that he also got tired and hungry! He gives a wonderful lesson in personal evangelism by showing how to get the interest of someone and then develop it into a desire to receive what God has to offer. He explains true worship in spirit and truth and shows that national culture cannot determine worship.
I had the students act out the entire chapter! One played Jesus and another played the woman at the well, and then there were a few disciples. But eventually the entire class became the Samaritans that came to hear Jesus. It was those Samaritans who first gave Jesus the title as ‘Savior of the world.’
Jesus told the disciples how to look for a spiritual harvest that does not take four months like a natural harvest. You have to lift up your eyes to see it in the spirit realm!
Doing the Father’s will and finishing His work sustains Jesus more than bread. Philippians 2:13: ‘For it is God who is at work within you both to will and to work according to His good pleasure.’ If we know what the Word of God says, we will know how to do His will.
I demonstrated it in this way: I asked who was sick amongst them and then I asked what the Word of God says about sickness and healing. They quoted Isaiah, ‘By His stripes you are healed’ and then I reminded them of Mark 16:18: ‘Those who believe, in My Name they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.’ Then I commanded those who were sick to come forward and I asked the others, ‘who wants to do the Father’s will now?’ Several came forward and laid their hands on the sick and prayed for them in the Name of Jesus.
Hernan Hugo, the oldest of the brothers interpreted for me when I preached or taught. He is an English teacher by profession.
Because so few people speak English I was forced to learn as much Spanish as possible in order to communicate. It is amazing how pressure increases learning!
‘Jo hablo un poco Espanol.’
The students enjoyed the way I act out the word and sometimes have them act it out. They also loved the stories I tell that relate to the Life of Christ. It shows that we are living the life of Christ and it is not merely an historical event.
I often sang and played piano and they made videos of it in the end. The song they particularly liked was ‘ Thank you Jesus for your love’. I think it is because of the Latin rhythm of the song. Kristina is translating the words so that they can sing it in church from now on.
On my ‘free day’ Leonides and Kristina Hugo took me for an outing to Guatavita, the small village in the vicinity of the famous El Dorado legend. I took some pictures of the lake that supposedly is filled with gold!
What impressed me most about the church is the unity of the brothers and other pastors working in tandem. There is no competition or envy or jealousy among them, but instead their humility is visible to all. The one regards the other higher as himself. Where brothers dwell together in unity, there God commands His blessing! The brothers and other pastors here in The House of Prayer complement each other beautifully and together they make a wonderful team. Where the one lacks, the other supplies!
Bogota is known for its massive charismatic churches of over 30 000 people and more. Church growth systems were birthed here and are now being franchised across the world as a Christian business. The problem with these churches is the competition they generate between themselves. Every church is trying to be the biggest and fastest growing church in a city. This actually causes division in the body of Christ.
When Jesus gave the disciples a miraculous draught of fish, they called the other boats to help with the catch. The unselfishness of the disciples is clearly seen in this act. They did not gather the fish just for themselves but shared it with other fishermen! Very few churches will do that when their goal is to be the biggest church in a city or a country!
I had not desire to go and see these large buildings. I was totally content to be with the brothers that God linked me up with. It was so peaceful and joyful. The kingdom of God is known by these qualities: righteousness, peace and joy! (Romans 14:17) Jesus said, ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else shall be added to you.’
Pastor Victor Hugo the brother of both Leonides and Hernan Hugo, thanked me for coming and making the sacrifice of leaving my family and church, and said the doors of their church are continually open to me and anyone else I would choose to send to them. He said we are now family in Christ.
Pastor Leonides Hugo said God would reward me for my willing sacrifice. He asked me to send regards to my family and church and also to the Maasbach family.
How precious where the brothers dwell together in unity! It is like the oil that runs down Aaron’s beard onto his priestly garments!
May the blessings pronounced on me for coming to Bogota come on all those who supported this mission through prayer or offerings! Amen.
Colombians have a South American Indian look to them. The men have somewhat square jaws and sharp bent noses with receding foreheads and pitch-black straight hair. The women generally look much younger than their male counterparts. Most of them are short of stature although the new generation appears to be taller. The women have long straight black hair. As in Cuba the painting of fingernails is almost a given. Each lady has her own style reflecting her taste on her fingernails.
The weather is much colder than expected. You hear people coughing everywhere. It is a wheezing wet cough. Even little children are coughing. The weather affects the lungs. It is supposed to be summer now, but I constantly had to wear a windbreaker. By day it is 14 degrees and it gets down to 6 decrees at night. There was no air con in the hotel where I stayed so I put on more clothes before going to bed to stay warm at night.
There is a greater variety of fruit than I have ever encountered. Some of the fruit I have never seen before or ever heard the names. For instance: Guanabana. It is a meaty fruit that they offer as a drink in restaurants: ‘guanabana con leiche.’ That is with milk. It is available in most South American countries and it is supposedly an antidote to cancer.
They have various kinds of potatoes that they normally cook in a soup on the 24th of December as a tradition. And there are fish on the menu that are peculiar to Colombia. The mountain trout has an exceptional taste because of the sweet mountain water.
The restaurants cater for local taste and family meals are at the order of the day. It is enough food on a plate to feed an army!
Of course, Colombian coffee is world-renowned. Juan Valdez first made coffee is still honored today by a coffee franchise named after him. The ‘fuerto’ brand is very, very strong!
As in most large cities in the world there are restrictions on the use of cars on certain days. The number plate indicates the restriction. So during certain hours some vehicles are not allowed in town. This helps a lot with traffic congestion. If disobeyed the police can confiscate a car and a heavy fine has to be paid to retrieve it.
I don’t know if it would work in a country like Nigeria where there are no traffic rules and everyone drives however they want to – even drive on the wrong side of the road against the oncoming traffic!
Bogota is quite safe – unlike all the Hollywood movies constantly depict in every scene about Colombia!
Although cocaine is one of the main export products for medicinal use, drug lords abuse the substance for their own profit. Drug wars are mostly fought in country areas where the plant is produced. (El Campo – countryside)
The only Christian university is in Cali and it is a Baptist university. So those who want to qualify for ministry go to learn Baptist dogma.
There is a great need for a Bible College where the pure word of God is being taught – not the denominational dogman or charismatic brand that focus on the views of a charismatic leader (the beginning of a cult).
All the taxis are tiny, yellow Japanese vehicles such as Kai or Korean Hyundi. Motocyclettas abound because it is much easier to get around on a motorbike than to get stuck in traffic!
The Andes mountain range has three branches that branch out from Bogota. The rest of the mountain range goes right through South America and Argentina down to Peru.
There is much gold in Colombia and huge gold mines provide a lot of substance for trade and merchandise.
It helps a lot to learn some basic words in Spanish when visiting Colombia as hardly anyone speaks English. Spanish is ‘probablemente’ the third most spoken language in the world. By having my book ‘God’s Genius’ and our Miracle Bible College course, ‘The Life of Christ’ translated into Spanish we can reach most of the Spanish speaking nations in the world with our own material! Dr. Gray would be happy! I believe we can extend the work he did typing away in his hot little caravan outside the white top evangelistic tent on tour with A. A. Allen, to many nations in the world by translating his material. It is truly life changing!
Apostle Andre Pelser