It’s the gift-giving time! Near the end of the year, stores fill up their shelves with things that appear once a year. Christmas is the time for many things to be stored away again once the New Year passes. In contrast, consider the images associated with the life of Jesus. Is there a child who ever gets tired of the manger scene? The manger stall with farm animals close at hand, the visit by the shepherds, even the angels’ song: Mary and Joseph didn’t “own” anything except perhaps the donkey. Mary and Joseph took their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Egypt. Christmas images of the Nativity matter, for they profoundly shaped our concept of the desire to give to others. It’s good to consider the messages we leave with children. Images matter.
Think of some events during Jesus’ life. He met in homes where he was invited but never “owned” one. We remember a boat he “borrowed” as a platform, for eager crowds almost pushed him into the water. One image governs my daily actions. One day, the sun passed its zenith as even more crowds gathered. The masses were tired and hungry, and the disciples talked amongst themselves. “How will we feed this multitude?” Andrew found a boy who brought two loaves and five small fish for his lunch. After Jesus blessed the lunch, the food was more than enough for everyone. The image of two loaves and five fishes is now universally used as a symbol of generosity and God’s power. Jesus possessed nothing, yet he had everything: authority, compassion, grace, and love. Loaves and fishes. That’s the power of an image.
Many scenes in Jerusalem come to mind. In the days before the crucifixion, Jesus went down the Mount of Olives riding on a donkey; it was “borrowed.” The Upper Room? It, too, was “borrowed.” Even the Passover meal was prepared by his friends. Did Jesus own anything? Well, yes, for on the cross, Jesus was stripped of everything. But the soldiers gambled for his tunic. Those are all powerful images. Christmas is about the coming of the Savior. He owned so little, yet he was rich. And on the cross, he became poor; he took on my sin there. He didn’t “borrow” my sin; he took it on himself and, in turn, offers me salvation. “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” Isaiah 53:5 That’s the key image of the Scriptures. That image matters. What will our children remember about Christmas during their adult lives? Will the remaining images be ones of wrapping paper, gifts, and faded family photographs, all too soon forgotten after the New Year? Or will the reality be that we possess true wealth? God’s riches. Images matter.
– The monthly blog from David Phillips, Interim Executive Director
Results: We hear feedback from people in their annual interviews and after or during events.
Missionaries feel more connected to LAM and to each other
Missionaries feel LAM has their back
Ultimately, we hope that we are achieving our goals: To strive to facilitate the growth, well-being, and resilience of missionaries so they can be effective and fruitful in their ministry calling and in their family life. That through a pro-active, preventative, holistic and educational program each missionary is:
This year we re-visited the theme of fundraising. We repeated the marriage workshop for those who were unable to attend in January. Annual interviews will continue through the fall and into winter with the goal of completing them all by the end of the year.
Diana and I plan the themes for next year’s salas and workshops. I expect we will always have fundraising, marriage and parenting as ongoing themes. I would also like to see us do some work on Spiritual Formation – but this is yet to be discussed! We will continue to monitor the mentoring program.
Other ongoing projects are administrative and have cross over with HR – defining the supervisor role, defining transition from candidate to full missionary status, developing assessment and management policy for when things go wrong, and more…
For this year - my personal goal this coming year is to complete my MA, I therefore am not pushing forward on any of these admin tasks, the priority is to maintain relationship and support with missionaries.
Longer term goal – post studies – I would like to work on strengthening the bond between LAM and supporting churches.
Thank you to all the team – for your encouragement and collaboration – thanks most of all to Our Amazing God who initiated, guided, resourced, encouraged, and affirmed both Diana and I in this venture and continue to do so.
Bruce Thompson’s uncle Murray Marshall was pastor at Park Street Church in Boston Mass, involved with LAM supporting missionaries. He urged Bruce’s dad, Winston, to get involved with LAM (Canada). So, the seed of involvement with LAM was planted in the Thomson family. LAM missionaries often came on speaking tours through GTA, from Kingston to Cambridge. Many would stay with Bruce’s parents as they came through the Toronto area. The Thompsons were always open to showing hospitality. They even drove visiting missionaries from one city to another.
In this way, Bruce got to know missionaries not just as through pictures on the kitchen fridge, but in person. He spent weekends learning about the missionary calling. Before long, he understood the diversity of LAM mission. Missionaries arrived from various countries.
Bruce went to university, where he studied accounting, and afterward, married Lois. Bruce and Lois have two children. Jessica is married and has one child. David is married and a pilot with Air Canada.
Through his love for Latin Americans, he supported children at Roblealto Child Center. He and a friend sponsored 22 children at one point. The Roblealto Association called her Grandmother Lois. At one missionary reunion in Florida, he talked with all the missionaries from all the Latin American countries. The conference was funded by a foundation, so no one had to get into debt to attend. They spent a week together, a nice recollection.
Bruce has a copy of the early By Laws, and Letters Patent. Former Board meetings were held in the board room of an accounting firm. Bruce joined as one of the younger people on a Board that wanted younger people. He has had 30 years serving on the Board, sometimes going off for a year before returning to this activity. One of his main objectives is to get younger people working on the oversight of the mission. Many people take administration for granted; it is such an important part of the organization. LAM must be well run. We put the care of missionaries and communication at the forefront.
What have been his best experiences with LAM? Getting to know the missionaries on a personal basis when they came through Canada has always been a highlight.
Number of departments (states or provinces) in the country: 32 locally governed states and Bogotá is the capital city. There are more than 52 million Colombians. Many have emigrated to Spain, the USA, and Canada.
Spanish explorers landed in La Guajira in 1499. Independence from the Spanish Empire came in 1819, and thirty years later, it was part of the federal Granadine Confederation. The Republic of Colombia was declared in 1886. Panama seceded in 1903. During decades of conflictive political maneuvering, various parties vied for power. This resulted in deep divisions, ongoing corruption, and the formation of a class of poor citizens. Partisan politics, dictatorships and wars have been the result.
Colombia is rich in many ways. Agriculture produces abundant harvests. Oil and coal are two main sources of income. Cocaine is an extremely lucrative cash crop, tempting to farmers. The result has been the creation of many drug gangs, often protected by private armies.
Right-wing terrorist groups formed to combat the guerrillas, have waged terror on their own people. Currently, Colombia is moving toward stability and order. The evangelical church continues to grow.
The Roman Catholic Church held sway over the population until the 1960s. In 1991, the Catholic domination was concluded with the adoption of a new constitution, which gives greater freedom to ethnic and minority groups. Christians compose 94% of the population. (Operation World), with 82% being Roman Catholic. The 25% percent of the population are part of evangelical and charismatic churches.
An amazing story is the result of prayer. The maximum-security prison known as Bellavista Jail housed many of of the most hardened criminals. Through prayer and bold Christian witness, the prison saw a remarking turning of these criminals to Christ. Many repented of their murderous attitudes. A prison radio station proclaims the Good News of faith in Jesus Christ. Many inmates are believers, studying the Bible, conducting fasting and meetings of various kinds. A Bible Institute trains inmates while still in jail and continues their contact afterward.
1. Colombia is still a dangerous country in some places. Pray for wisdom for the authorities.
2. The upheaval from political and drug-related violence. Tens of thousands are widows and orphans. Colombia has over three million internally displaced people.
3. Christ’s leadership over violence and corruption has become evident in several places as people pray.
4. The Roman Catholic Church is losing its hold on the people. Only 25% are active Catholic participants. The poor of the land are most likely to turn to Christ in the evangelical and charismatic churches.
5. Evangelicals need wisdom for: the challenge of violence and revenge; the challenges of leadership; and the challenges of unity.
6. Pray for our LAM missionaries in Colombia. (See our website for a complete portrait of our missionaries.)
David y Marilyn Longworth
Mairee y Joel Gracia
Diana y Santiago Benavides