Hello from Colombia! Just over two days into the South America portion of our tour and our team is already running full steam ahead.
Despite only being here a few days, there are so many experiences I would like to share with you. Two in particular filled my heart so full of joy.
I was able to speak at the Bogota Police Academy to over 800 cadets, officers, and family members. My message was also broadcast to all of the other police academies and stations in Colombia, reaching over 170,000 members of the Colombian police force and its branches.
It was such an honor to be able to help inspire these brave men and women who serve their country. Colombia has a history of corruption and violence, but because of the service of Colombians like those I spoke to that day, the country is a radically different place than even just a few years ago. The difference that these police members have made is astounding, and I am incredibly grateful for their work.
Another touching experience for me here was meeting José, a really inspiring 13 year-old Colombian. Thanks to Compassion International, I was able to meet this amazing young man, who has a truly inspirational story.
José and his family live in Paradise, a poor neighborhood in Bogota situated high up in the hills overlooking the city. With a mostly impoverished population of 7,000, Paradise is an interesting mashup of brilliant Colombian culture and the harsh realities of economic struggle.
Meeting José for the first time was one of those moments you never forget. The small, rough homes set against the scenic backdrop of Bogata, the fresh mountain air wafting through the street, and of course, the tears and tangible excitement and anticipation of José’s family.
The interesting thing about giving hugs without arms is that I have no control over the strength or length of the hug. It’s completely dependent on the person who hugs me. José had such a firm, loving hug. It was an immediate connection.
José’s father hung himself when José was five years old, which was a truly traumatic experience for his family. About one year later, a Compassion International sponsor – a 14 year-old girl – decided to sponsor José to help meet his financial, educational, and spiritual needs. Being a part of Compassion completely flipped his life around, and he began living for God and taking up a leadership role in the absence of his father.
José now desires to become a pastor and spread the Hope of Christ that has so deeply impacted his life. That, my friends, is redemption at its finest.
After chatting for awhile and then kicking around a soccer ball (what a workout at 10,000 feet!), we headed over to Iglesia Misionera Fuente de Vida Eterna, a local church that partners with Compassion. There some of the local children performed and I was able to share a few words of encouragement.
Our time in South America has just begun, yet God is already doing big things. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Keep praying, keep supporting, and keep loving, friends.