Thank you for praying for us as we are in Medellin, Colombia from July 28 to Aug 8! Also while we are away you can get daily updates here on our GO Team Blog! Check back each day.

Summary Missions Report

I (Pastor Greg) write rejoicing that the GO Team has completed this year’s summer missions trip in Colombia! There is so much that each of us has been blessed by that is it is truly a challenge to summarize! Our hearts are bursting with joy in light of all that God has done in and through us; and we will forever be grateful for the priceless relationships we were able to form there.

Embarking On Mission Together

Our team of twelve youth and young adults travelled to Medellin with the purposes of doing outreach, equipping leaders, and developing our ministry partnership with the Redil churches. Our team underwent regular training and discipleship meetings throughout the 8 months before we left with the aim, as our theme verse for our team says, to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).

This year was the third missions team over the past 5 years sent from City Centre to partner with Redil. The Pastors with whom we have worked closely for each mission trip over the years are Carlos Mendivelso and Jonathan Calle. Carlos is the Senior Pastor of the Redil congregation in the Poblado neighbourhood. Jonathan has served as the Youth and Young Adults Pastor overseeing these ministries at three congregations (Poblado, Laureles, and Belén). He is currently in transition to become the Senior Pastor at Redil-Belén. This year the GO Team coordinated with Pastor Jonathan to serve at Poblado, Laureles, and Belén, and with various ministries they support.

It is such a joy to know and work with Jonathan, Carlos, and all of the other Pastors and leaders of Redil! The Redil church network works closely together with a unique spirit of unity and mutual cooperation, which is truly inspiring to see! To clarify, we didn’t go to Colombia on a kind of rescue mission, but to work with our Colombia brothers and sisters with the aim to mutually build up one another according to the various gifts each of us has been given.

Whenever a missions team like ours is sent to work with them, this gives the Redil churches an opportunity spread the word in the community and reach people that are otherwise much harder to reach through their normal means. Moreover, with our team working alongside their leadership teams we are able to very effectively reach into the community and connect newcomers with Redil through our ministry so that Redil will be able to continue those relationships after we leave. Another fruit of our time there whenever we do missions with Redil is the renewed and increased passion and boldness both teams receive as a result of an amazing time of ministry partnership we share together.

Expanding Our Reach

This year we expanded our partnership to include a focus on young adults ministry in addition youth ministry. The first weekend we conducted a Leadership Seminar (“Entrenamento de Lideres Jovenes”) on Friday night, followed by an Apologetics Conference (“Defendiendo de Nuestra Fe”) on Saturday morning and afternoon. It was amazing to see that at each event we had about 70 people come out! At night on Saturday, we also held a “LINK” Outreach night for unchurched young adults, where we led worship, and shared the gospel through drama and the Word.

We all had different roles to play, with me (Pastor Greg) teaching and preaching throughout the first weekend, Hector leading our worship team, and Amanda leading our drama team. Krystina sang a beautiful solo at the Sunday service. Shantol and Rohit organized a Canadian-themed lunch (with poutine!) for Redil-Belén following the service. Two unexpected ministry opportunities also came our way: Pastor Drew got called upon to preach at Redil-Laureles that first Sunday; and Pastor Carlos invited our team to visit his daughter’s school to share with all the different classes about Canadian culture on Wednesday.

On Monday to Thursday we started a new evening ESL outreach ministry called ‘Practice English Without Stress’ (“Practica Inglés Sin Estrés”). It was a great success with us reaching about 50 people, including about 20 who were not church attendees. Redil-Belén is now wanting to continue the ministry without us there because it was such a success! It was a great way for us to connect people with Redil-Belén and for us to share our testimonies with those who came.

During the daytime, on Monday we enjoyed some time for touring as we visited downtown Medellin and took the cable car, which overlooked the beautiful city. On Tuesday, we visited Aures, a children’s foundation which is supported by Redil and located in a very impoverished part of the city. That visit was more of an opportunity for us to begin to see the need in the community and how we could support them in the future.

On Wednesday, our team split up with the leaders of our team meeting with Redil leaders of various ministries, and with our remaining team members conducting the school visit. This was a stretching time for everyone! It was challenging for me to release the rest of the team to lead ministry activities without us. It was a new experience for them to take ownership of ministry, but for which I am very proud of them because they stepped up! It was a very emotionally stretching time for me and the leaders as we met with the Redil leaders of their Women’s Ministry, Youth, Young Adults, and Missions ministries, and with our City Centre-sponsored missionary, Diego Cardona. We learned about heartbreaking challenging in family dynamics, plastic surgery trends among 15 year-olds, prostitution and drug trafficking, the tiny statistics of orthodox evangelicals that exist in Medellin, and about indigenous people groups who are severely impoverished and oppressed by spiritual darkness. Nonetheless, we were also invigorated and inspired about all the ministry opportunities in front of us that we can partner with Redil on together in the future.

On Thursday, which we had designated as our “rest day,” we went to a local zip line and tree top trekking park during the day, then came back and finished off our last night of ESL ministry that night.

On Friday, we said our goodbyes to our host families in the morning. We cannot put into words how grateful we all were for our host families! The team was split up into twos, staying with six different member families of Redil. Each of them showed us such heartwarming hospitality with sincere affection and generous hearts. We all formed such a bond with our hosts that it was very hard for us to say goodbye!  Afterwards, we met up at Redil-Poblado for a lunch team meeting and did our final preparations for the weekend Youth Retreat, which we left for that evening.

At the Youth Retreat, four of us (Jerusha, Shantol, me (Greg), and Hector) preached to the youth on the weekend theme: “Who Am I?” Because there were a lot of challenges in communication and we were really uncertain how well the youth were receiving things, I felt led that we needed to earnestly pray for the Lord to work through us on Saturday night, as that was when we would be giving an invitation to respond to the gospel. So we all got on our knees and prayed. And the Holy Spirit responded by working so powerfully that night! Dozens of people prayed to trust in Christ and rededicate themselves! Each of us on the team were personally touched by different people’s stories of transformation over the weekend.

On Sunday, we said our goodbyes to the youth as they left the retreat. Another very emotional farewell! Then we hiked around the beautiful property and had one last team debrief meeting before we packed up to fly back on Monday.

Emptied Out and Filled Up

Reflecting back on this mission, I know now in a new way what it means to ‘love God with all our

strength.’ Daily and intensive labouring for Christ’s mission takes real physical effort and mental fortitude. And working and living with others takes patience! But more than that,  it takes humility and a willingness to re-examine yourself before being critical of others. After all, our own flaws come into full view—mine included! Having experienced that feeling of being ‘emptied out’ for the sake of gospel ministry, it gives me a fresh perspective on the lengths that Christ went to secure our salvation, and the example he set for us who follow him.

Something else I can now look at with new eyes is the emotional struggle that Paul so often speaks of in his letters. Luke’s beautiful account of Paul’s final meeting with the Ephesian elders tells of the Ephesians travelling to meet Paul as he’s sailing by Ephesus and stops at Miletus so that they can all have a final goodbye (see Acts 20:17-38). As they parted, it says “there was much weeping on the part of all” (v.37). Everyone on the team knows what this is like firsthand. Our home is in Canada, but we have a second home now in Colombia.
And it is in this very passage we find Paul quoting Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). As we emptied ourselves out we were more than filled back up by all the love from our Colombian family in Christ! It is a beautiful thing to see and feel the bond of Christ and the unity of the Spirit!


Envisioning the Future

We are discussing and praying about plans for the next mission team to send to Colombia. There are new and exciting opportunities, including jointly sending our team with a team from Redil to reach out to an impoverished people in another part of Colombia.
Will you pray about future missions opportunities with us, and consider what part you might have in them?
TESTIMONIALS: What Were Some Life Lessons We Learned On Mission?
“On this trip I was reminded that when we surrender our efforts over to God he will do more then we can even imagine. Something I would like to do differently now that I’m home is to get out of my comfort zone more, and to surrender my insecurities to God.”

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of love that was shown to us despite the fact that we were there to serve them. I want to love more sacrificially and be willing to give of myself at any moment, not only when I have prepared for it.”

“When we, as Christians, surrender ourselves completely and allow God to use us as He wills (putting aside our insecurities and our feelings of inadequacies to serve), then we are able to see the true beauty of His gracious love; and it’s His love that becomes attractive to all and leads people in to relationship with Him! My desire is to see more of the opportunities I have to serve in every aspect of my life.”

“I learned that prayer is extremely powerful and can definitely make a difference when serving. With that being said, I want to maintain a constant prayer life in all aspects of my life.”

“I have learned that I need to spend more time praying. I have found I get caught up in the busyness of my life. Spending time in Colombia made me forget my life here. I need to find a solid balance and discipline to spend more time with God and know and learn more about Him from the Word and through fervent prayer. Missions is a good way to learn about sacrificing our time and life to do more and serve more. Be it at home or abroad.”

“It is a huge blessing being brought into a relationship with God though Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Being brought into relationship with the church, even more a global church, is the cherry on top. I want to be a better servant within my household. I want to learn how to love those closest to me even better.”

“I learned that so much can be done by God through us without us needing to be experts. And if so much can be done through the little that we give, I realized I need to start sacrificing more for his glory. The love of God is powerful and is enough for everyone.”

“I learned that, in addition to going overseas on missions, I can be participating in God’s work, and serve on mission here at home! I also learned about the responsibility and teamwork involved in being on mission. I want to take advantage of every opportunity given to me to be a positive, godly influence on the lives of those around me. I will also continue to put my fears aside in order to glorify God with my gifts.”

“I learned that differences in language are not barriers to God working through you. The passion that you have for the Lord can convey His glory. Coming back from this amazing trip, I will definitely be more open to different opportunities to serve that are out of my comfort zone, as I have seen that the outcomes of serving outweigh any temporary feelings of discomfort.

“I learned that through experiencing God’s love consistently, one will have more love for others, joy and peace. That is what deepens one’s passion for the gospel. I want to be more bold in the Word and set the right example to family and friends. I want to be willing and able to take every opportunity to be a positive influence.”

Day 12:

Day 12 is here!!
We’re headed home! After a short night’s sleep (+/- 4 hrs), we headed out from our retreat camp to the airport at 5:15am. We successfully navigated the 12 of us through security after a final breakfast with our amazing hosts, Jonathan and Zarina!!
We we’re late leaving Colombia but that just meant our layover in Miami was a little shorter. I’m (Pastor Drew) actually writing this final blog post from the MIA waiting area, hanging out with the rest of the GO Team. We’re reminiscing about our special adventure over these last two weeks as we wait for the call to board out last leg of the journey.
Our continuing prayer is that this is just the beginning though! Join with us in our prayer that the ministry partnership with the Redil churches in Medellin will continue over these next years.
Thank you for joining us in this tremendous adventure with God! Without you all, this could not have been as successful as it was. We promise to get more pics up here in the next few days. God bless!

Day 11:

Day 11 was an emotional one!
After the closing message for the retreat and some fun and games, we had lunch and the final good-byes were exchanged as the campers packed and loaded up for the ride home. With all that went down, especially on Saturday night, there was a great deal of emotion on both sides!! We have felt and seen God work in answer to very specific prayers! What a privilege to have a part in His work!
Afterward, we stayed overnight at the camp as it’s only a short ride to the airport from there. It was great to have some time in the evening for the GO team to debrief and talk about what we’ve learned about ourselves and about God through these days in Colombia.
Thank you for praying!! God is good! He’s heard the prayers of His people and answered SO many of them in the affirmative! Continue to pray for us as we travel home on Monday! Thank you and God bless!

Day 10:

Saturday was a great day of fun at the retreat. The team had a full day of interaction with the youth and youth leaders. There were two messages, one in the morning and the second in the evening, brought by two of our GO team members.
Before the evening meeting, the GO team met and prayed on our knees for God to work that night. After the evening message literally dozens of youth came forward for prayer! New salvation stories and re-dedication’s! It was amazing to be part of a great moving of the Holy Spirit.
They finished up the evening with a huge bonfire with dessert, singing and testimonies until after midnight.
Pray that the decisions made would last and that these dear ones would be discipled and encouraged through their local churches.

Day 9:

Day 9 allowed us to sleep in a little as we had the morning free! Many of us took advantage of the morning off by going shopping. Several went out with their host families. We packed up, said tear-filled good-byes to our hosts and met up at Poblado church around 12:30pm.
We had planning meetings and assembled along with the youth to leave for the Youth Retreat together at Santa Elena. It is a remote, rustic beautiful place!
We’re here with El Redil youth leaders and about 50 youth. A number of our team are giving four ‘talks’ this weekend at the retreat.
Pray for an effective ministry here and that the youth will truly ‘hear’ the answer to the question this weekend, “Who Am I?”

Day 8:

Day 8 began with another new experience for most of us on the team. We went tree trekking at a zip-line park! It was tough work and not everyone could complete it, but I have to say it was a blast! The biggest disappointment was that we couldn’t have cameras with us, do to safety issues. The photos below are taken outside the park so you can see a glimpse of what we experienced!
After lunch there, we did a little more exploring around the park and then headed back to the Belen church for our last evening of ESL. It was another great night with the added treat of guacamole, chips and Nanaimo bars for desert!
Tonight is actually our last night in Medellin! We leave our billet homes and there will for sure a few tears! Tomorrow afternoon we head over to the camp and begin the Youth Retreat!
Pray for us as we say good-bye to some dear friends and get ourselves ready, for what will likely be, a fun filled, fast paced, energetic weekend!
GOTeam-day8-ESL house
GOTeam-day8-ESL entrance

Day 7:

Day 7 was a different day for our Team. We separated into two teams for most of the day, with one team of seven heading to a school to visit with all of the classes to talk about dealing with the pressures of today on kids and teens. One thing that we didn’t know, was that it is an all-girls school!
The remaining five (Greg, Caitlin, Drew, Shantol and Jerusha) met with a number of El Redil staff over the course of several meetings, to chat about Teen, Young Adult, Women’s Ministry, single older adults and mission work!
To cap off the day, we met at the Belen church for another ESL class!

Day 6:

Day 6 began with a drive up to the top of a big hill in the middle of Medellin called “Pueblito Piasa”. It has traditional buildings built at the top (a church, a home, shops, etc) and it’s a great look-out to view the city. We checked it all out, bought some souvenirs, had a snack, took a few pics and then headed out for lunch in a mall food court. Yes, there was a McDonald’s, but most of us opted for more traditional Columbian fare.
After lunch it was a ride up into a very poor area of Medellin to see a ministry that reaches out to the most vulnerable sector of the population…the children. It was humbling to see what Lauri does there with so very little. She helps them with some basic education as well as Bible teaching.
In the evening it was back to the Belen church for the 2nd evening of ESL. Another full day!
Please pray for the strength and endurance we need as individuals, and as a team, to finish strong! We’re now half way through the mission, and we’re pretty beat by the end of every day. We feel the effects of your prayers! YOU are making a difference here!! Thank you!

Day 5:

We might crash the internet posting all the pictures and trying to share all that we did today!
Day 5 was an interesting day! It was a day of great sight-seeing, fun and food, with an amazing ESL outreach to finish the day!
We began the day meeting up at the Metro to ride the train across Medellin. We definitely saw all aspects of life here, from the top to the bottom of the economic scale. At the end of the Metro ride, we boarded a cable car and rode it up and then down the side of the mountain which gave us a “bird’s eye view” of some of the poorest neighborhoods of Medellin. Back on the Metro and we rode back into the downtown for an amazing lunch.
After that we wandered the downtown shops to find some ‘treasures’ and maybe a hat! We even tried to learn some culture today by checking out a museum. A train and bus ride out of the downtown brought us back to the El Redil Belen church for the first evening of the ESL program. We were told to expect 30 or so, but 45 came to check it out! Now we have to plan for even more for day 6, as we all had a great time and many are bringing more of their friends! PTL!
Pray that we will be able to handle the extra students and that we’ll accomplish the ultimate goals of building friendships, sharing the Gospel and connecting these people to the Belen church. Oh ya… and helping them with their conversational English!!

Day 4:

Another incredible day in Colombia for City Centre’s Colombia GO Team!
Pastor Drew attended and preached at the El Redil Laureles Church. The rest of the Team attended the El Redil Belen Church where Pastor Greg preached!
After the service Pastor Drew joined up with the Team and they cooked our host Belen church a poutine lunch! Huge fun and a smashing success! After this, the Team had a well deserved late afternoon/evening off. So, of course, shopping and touring around town was the plan!
Again, thank you for your prayers! We feel it every minute of every day! We can do NOTHING of any eternal consequence with out our Lord working through us!

Day 3:

Day 3 was another day packed with ministry and a birthday for Team member Chinedu! We arrived early at the El Redil del Poblado church for an 8am staff meeting. We then had a quick Worship Team rehearsal, and we were ready to go! Members of the Worship and Drama Teams participated at various times today.
The bulk of the day was filled by an apologetics conference for the youth and young adults, lead by Pastor Greg.
In the evening there was an outreach event sponsored by the church where the main message was also delivered by Pastor Greg. The whole team got involved by dividing up among the tables of invited guests and chatting with them after Pastor Greg’s presentation of a logical case for the truth of the claims Jesus made about himself.
Once again, a long and busy day that we trust will ultimately prove fruitful.

Day 2:

Day 2 dawned bright and sunny, so we had our first glimpse of the city in the daylight! It’s fast paced and the traffic is wild by Mississauga standards!
We spent the whole day at Laureles, one of the 3 El Redil churches that we’re working alongside this trip. The Team spent most of the day practicing our drama and worship, as Pastor Greg put the finishing touches on his presentation on growing and developing lay youth leaders. All the while that we work, our Go Team continues to become a tightly knit unit and we’re genuinely having a blast doing ministry together. We were told to expect 30 youth leaders to attend this evening’s conference, but the number ended up being close to 70 leaders from 8 different churches! Praise God!
All in all, it was another fun, challenging and long day!
Please continue to pray that we grow together as a Team, that we remain determined to let God use us as He sees fit and that the Lord receives all the praise and glory for whatever is accomplished here! Thank you!