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Barranquilla church serves community, develops leadership


February 10, 2004
-from reports


A Sunday School class of adolescent girls enjoys working on their lesson at the church in Barranquilla.

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Barranquilla, Colombia – Last year, at the request of the Colombian Mennonite Church, Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers Gamaliel and Amanda Falla returned to their native Colombia to plant a church in the city of Barranquilla, the fourth largest city in the country.

Now, Iglesia Cristiana Encuentro de Renavación Communidad Menonita (Place of Renewal Christian Church, Mennonite Community) has an attendance of around 70 people, including 20 children, and has established a children’s feeding centre. Thirty-one people have been baptized, and 12 have transferred their memberships from other congregations. And Comedor Infantil “Nueva Esparanza” (“New Hope” Children’s Feeding Center) operates in the Barranquilla neighborhood of Villa Tablitas, near where some of the church members live.

The Fallas preach and teach in the Barranquilla church, but they are working hard at preparing others for leadership, especially after their struggle to find leadership to replace them during a previous church-planting term in Cali. Since their arrival in Barranquilla, they have led 10 members in a course on preaching. Now, their students are doing some of the preaching. They have an evaluation time on the Monday after the sermon to learn from the experience.

Elena Olivares, a member of the church’s ministerial team, coordinates the church’s work at the children’s feeding center. She has organized volunteers from the church to take turns coming to visit, leading singing and Bible studies, and helping with food preparation. Community women also help prepare food and provide firewood. A volunteer nutritionist helped plan the menus for the center.

“The gospel is holistic and should address all aspects of life,” said Gamaliel Falla.

The Fallas have been working seriously in teaching Anabaptist theology. Janet Plenert, executive director of International Ministries (MC Canada Witness), said, “Fallas are high energy and passionate people with a real vision for church planting. They immediately involve new Christians in all aspects of church life, allowing the church body, and surrounding community to benefit from multitudes of gifts.”