“You just can’t imagine how great this was. This week has helped me by giving me the opportunity to be fed spiritually instead of always teaching. I’ve learned how to be a better servant and man. I wouldn’t change a thing and I hope you do this for us again next year.” These are the reflections from just one person on this week’s preacher conference we had in Cali, Colombia with eight of the nine men we help support. Jason Schofield and I walk away very satisfied with what we accomplished. Almost 18 hours of instruction and study over three days. Personal interviews with our men. Late night conversations letting some of them talk through their problems. Watching them encourage each other, get to know one another better, and just talk. Time to relax, visit, and laugh with one another. It was all so good.
Between Tuesday and Thursday we were able to cover topics on the work and role of a preacher. We challenged them to allow their individual congregations to get more involved in the local work and support them more. We talked about the importance of sexual purity and setting an example as an evangelist. Jason challenged them with a class on church discipline from the perspective of grace — rather than a harsh spirit that gives little consideration to Christian weakness. We talked about the need for their personal spiritual growth and gave them ideas on how to plan on how to address their weaknesses. And finally, we talked about the very important topic of local congregational preacher support and the need to move away from dependency on American congregations.
Kettering family, thanks for making all of this possible. Over and over again, from each one of these men, we’ve been asked to tell you “thank-you”. They’ve all remarked what a difference it is for them that we have taken the time to get to know them, their families, and their work personally. It is much different from what they experience from other American congregations who often communicate very little other than through sending a monthly check. Our relationship and partnership with them means more to them than we may be able to understand. So again, thank you for the difference you all are making in bettering the lives of our Colombian team. To God be the glory!
— Matthew Allen
It’s been quite a first week in Colombia. Jason, Greg, Collin, and I have appreciated your prayers. Thus far, we have been able to visit with four of the preachers we support. Our journeys have taken us to the far northwest of Colombia and now SE of Bogota, on the Colombian plains. We’ve been humbled and encouraged at the same time. And, it’s been so wonderful to serve and build up others.
Many of the brethren we’ve visited are very poor. But their dedication and willingness to sacrifice is evident. On Tuesday, we visited a new place, Cerete. A small congregation meeting in a brothers home. Some of the people present that day drove 5 hours each way for an 11 am service on a Tuesday morning! On Wednesday we were in a difficult and dangerous area, Guayabano. But the hospitality and kindness we received meant so much. Just getting out to that village was an adventure in itself. Carlos had difficulty finding a driver for us because they were all too scared to drive out there. The unspoken rule is that any visitors to that area need to be out before nightfall due to lawless guerrillas who live there. We did leave after dark, because the Christians were determined to serve us with hospitality after the service ended. Let’s just say the driver drove twice as fast out of there as he did going in. The churches in these isolated areas are small and any outside teaching they can absorb is always well received. In my judgment the risk going out there is far outweighed by the encouragement they receive.
On Thursday we traveled down to Villavicencio and worshipped with the church there. It was my privilege to see Greg and Jason deliver two excellent lessons that night. On Friday, we were with the church in Acacias and we spent yesterday about 100 km south of Villavicencio in the village known as Fountain of Gold. The small group here began five years ago when a family from Spain moved to ColombIa. They found Jaime Restrepo’s website and began asking questions. Jaime and Wilson drove down here, began to study with them, and a local church was soon formed.
We are all doing well. It was good to have Greg and Collin with us. They both did an excellent job. Jason and I fly to Cali tomorrow morning where we begin the preacher conference on Tuesday. We appreciate your prayers and kind words. God bless!
—- Matthew Allen
God’s Warm and Inviting Family
True love has its origin in God. John said, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love, 1 John 4:7-8. God is the very essence of love, and when we demonstrate our love we reveal to others that we belong to Him. Hatred, envy, wrath, and malice all have their origin in something other than God. God has never commanded such, and does not approve of such. If a person does not love, then a person does not have an acquaintance with God.
It is amazing, when we think of it, that God loves us. In us, He sees beings that He can love and that can love Him in return. John explains why God loves us: By this the love of God was manifested in us, that god has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins, 1 John 4:9-10. Praise God for the great love with which He has loved us!
We have been created in the very image of God, Genesis 1:26-27. It is in our nature to love. One of the greatest needs in humans is the need to love and to be loved in return. John says, Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another, 1 John 4:11. We need to look for ways to share our love with others. It might be a kind word spoken, a deed done, a telephone call, or a visit to the hospital or nursing home. There are so many ways we communicate our love for our brothers and sisters. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us, 1 John 4:12. When we demonstrate our love, the product of God’s love becomes complete. Loving one another enables god to accomplish His love in us.
Look today for ways that you can demonstrate your love for those around you. Have someone in your home, send the sick a card, say a prayer for those who are spiritually struggling. Each of us can help make being part of God’s family warm and inviting!
Colombia 2019 Overview
In Acts 13-14, Barnabas & Paul had been commissioned by the church in the church in Antioch to preach across Asia Minor. By the time we get to the end of chapter 15, we’re several years later … and Paul is ready to go again. Acts 16-19 give us details of almost 4 years of Paul’s work and labor among the Gentile churches. As we’ve been studying in Acts lately, we understand that missionary journeys were very much a part of the work of the first century church.
Since 2011, Kettering has been very involved in the ongoing work in Colombia. Our association began in 1985 with Jaime Restrepo. Beginning in 2011, we stepped up our involvement significantly. Since then, there have been 7 Congregation-sponsored trips over the last 8 years.
What is in store for our 2019 Visit? We have two primary objectives:
- To get firsthand reports/updates from the local preachers Kettering supports.
- To conduct a preacher conference in Cali for our preachers.
Greg, Collin, Jason, and I are thankful for your prayers, kind words, and individual financial support. It is truly an honor to serve in this capacity and to represent the Kettering church. We ask for your prayers while we are away.
Our Upcoming Trip to Colombia
Greg, Collin, Jason, and I are looking forward to our trip to Colombia that begins next Sunday. This visit has been in the works for well over a year — maybe two years. Presently, Kettering assists in the support of nine men and their families who live across Colombia. We have had relationships with most of them for six years, while others we are just getting to know. Our preachers cover a wide range of ages and experience - some in the early years of service, while others have been laboring for a couple of decades or more. Two of them are fluent in English and assist us in translation while we are there. They are all very dedicated to their work.
Beginning in 2011, our shepherds determined that this congregation would become more involved in overseas evangelism. While Kettering sent funds around the world in the years prior to this, we wanted this part of our work to become more than the more typical practice of “receive-a-report-and-get-a-check.” We wanted to know our men, their families, and their work personally. We wanted to experience what they experience … to know it, feel it, and to understand it. We also determined to focus our efforts on one country, easing our travel, lodging, and expense commitments. As we have moved forward over the last eight years, many of you have joined us in assisting our work abroad. A few of you have gone with us to help in the work, including Jason/Sadonna Schofield, Greg Morrison, Collin Schofield, and Emilea Allen. Besides money contributed out of the treasury, literally tens of thousands of dollars have been given individually, countless items of clothing, worship supplies, computers, projectors, and other teaching aids have been donated. Our involvement in Colombia is so concentrated, that our shepherds have even tasked a deacon (Jason Schofield) to have his entire area of focus on the work there. From what we know, there is no other congregation in the United States more involved in the work in Colombia than Kettering. Again, you are to be commended for this.
This year’s trip will mainly focus on two important needs. First, we’ll be visiting local works in Lorica, Villavicencio, Acacias, Cali, Villamaria, and Manizales. Second, we’ll be holding a 4-day conference in Cali with all nine of our men in order to teach and encourage them in their preaching efforts. Jason and I have been working hard to get ready for this part of the work. Over the coming week, we’ll reveal more specifics about what our visit will look like.
While the congregation collectively is covering our travel expenses, lodging, transportation, etc., there is also an opportunity for you to contribute individually as well. Jason and I will be looking for opportunities to meet the needs of our brethren. If you’d like to help, see Jason or me this week. (And thanks to the many of you who have already donated to this effort.) As always, we’ll share with you a full accounting of how your funds were used once we return home.
Even if you can’t afford to contribute monetarily, you can still help. We need your prayers every single day. In fact, we’re very dependent on them. And, finally, prayers for our families while we are away are also appreciated. There is always a special burden placed on Sadonna, Becky, and Doneitta when we travel. Thanks for all you do. And thanks for your encouragement as we assist in taking the gospel to South America.
— Matthew Allen