GOING THROUGH SAMARIA: COLOMBIA SENDING MISSIONARIES
Just a few stories into the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus, on his way back to Galilee, went through a town called Sychar. John 4:4 reads, “And he had to pass through Samaria.” Stopping at a well around noon, he meets a Samaritan woman.
Scholars explain and share the significance of Jesus taking this specific route: “Jesus took the direct route north from Jerusalem to Galilee through Samaria, in contrast to most Jews who took the longer, indirect route east of the Jordan River through Peraea because of their hatred for the Samaritans.”¹
Let’s pause and notice another detail from this encounter at the well. Not only was Jesus willing to take an unpopular route, he wasn’t afraid to cross culture as he moved to share the good news about the living water he came to provide with this Samaritan woman. We see him reach out with compassion. “The Samaritan woman asks Jesus how he — a Jew — has the nerve to ask her — a despised Samaritan — to draw some water from the well.”¹
With a little reflection on Jesus’ posture and response, we can wonder about how we are to move toward others who are different than us, with this same love that Jesus showed.
The Wesleyan Church of Colombia is moving towards their neighbors in this way — their “here and near” but also towards those who are “far” in a cultural sense. They’ve recently started the Guajira Project to provide theological and cross-cultural training for leaders to serve as missionaries to several communities located near the Guajira Peninsula in the northernmost part of Colombia, just northwest of Venezuela. Eight people from Spain, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Colombia will attend a cross-cultural training event scheduled for August in Colombia.
We want to pray with this team who is raising support to continue construction of a missionary training base, which will be a church and training center for missionaries as they begin to make disciples and plant churches. Their plans align with the 5 Phases2 — first seeking to build relationships with the people in these communities, and then to make disciples — all while learning culture along the way. With an evaluation process, resources, and a detailed action plan, it’s clear to see how God is moving amid their leadership. How beautiful to see disciples making disciples who are transforming their communities through planting churches that plant more churches.
A recent quote from Danielle Strickland, spiritual leader and communicator, summarizes it well, “Jesus went out of the way, to get IN the way. This is Jesus’ great strategy.” Whether “out of the way” is an indirect route or like in the story of the Samaritan woman, a more direct route — let us pray with The Wesleyan Church of Colombia as they, like Jesus, get “in the way,” sending missionaries to share the good news of living water with their neighbors. May the people reached by the Guajira Project be nearer to experiencing the hope of Jesus and soon be able to share his love with their own communities too!
The Guajira Project is just one example of sending work happening in Ibero-America. Learn more about other efforts of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru, all of which border the northeast area of the Amazon at gponline.org/projects/ibero-america-projects/.