Pastoral Care with the Neediest

Pastoral Care with the Neediest

Daniel and Helen Bravo in Colombia

Daniel and Helen Bravo face a new week on a Monday morning, again ready for challenges that arise without warning.

They have spent the last week in Uraba, Colombia where more people are passing through each day, arriving to the area after leaving their homes in Venezuela. The steady stream of refugees is like the Caribbean tide not far away. More than 400.000 people just in 2023.

Daniel sat with many refugees, gradually enlarging the circle as a few stragglers arrived late to the workshop. Each person had a story of woe, recounting the disaster in the country to the east. Everyone hoped this flow of strangers would soon cease; instead, it’s been rising again as news came that Venezuelans would be accepted in the USA.

One woman asks what walking through the Darian Gap, the rugged forest separating Panama and Colombia is like. Another one, holding a two-year-old and soon to give birth, states flatly, “I’m not going any further. I can’t take the stress this has been on me.” Daniel provides each person with time to talk.  Tears flow, and he comforts them with kind words, asking further questions and praying. Outwardly, little has changed. The families continue to be refugees. Compassion and love have warmed their hearts.

In the afternoon, Helen’s attention is given to one of the women. Through the gifts she has received from participating churches, she can help the women expecting a baby. “I’ve just arranged for you to see a doctor,” she says with a smile. “Before now, you should have had someone see you, so this will be your first appointment. I have good news for you. We can help you through the delivery. Then, we’ll stay in touch with you for the first four to six months. Friends outside Colombia care for you and are praying for you.” 

The two women hug warmly. Maria, the refugee woman, departs, her tears expressing both the pain of homelessness after months away from Caracas and the new-found joy of acceptance.

Daniel and Helen’s week fills up quickly. Young men gather for soccer practice in the afternoon, exchanging pent-up anger and frustration for the pleasure of passing a ball, hoping to mark another goal. The initiative started as a network for Community Transformation Through Local Churches is always at the back of their mind. Over 150 other pastors now participate with him in this vital ministry.

There is never enough time for them to keep house, make meals, keep records for the ministry partners who share funds, and occasionally have an evening just for themselves. Their days are filled with stories of people in need. A march is being planned to bring attention to the legal requirements of women and children under Colombian laws. Weekend camps call for organizers and volunteers. 

The focus of the ministry carried out by Daniel and Helen is to inspire local churches to proclaim and live a truly integral gospel. They mentor and equip church leaders to respond to challenges around them. 

Pastoral Care for the poorest, the most neglected speaks of an integral gospel. If you ask them what’s happening tomorrow, they simply say, “Oh, tomorrow? It’s another busy day as we carry out Christ’s mission!”

Learn more about Helen and Daniel's ministry: