photo credit: saavem@sxc
She has a ministry inside a prison in Panama (she does not live in there, is not incarcerated) She tells us these women come from all over the world and the average age is… young. She says that even with a language barrier – that the language of LOVE speaks louder than words ever can.
She tells us about the appalling conditions these women live in. She is very ‘real’ about what its like without making us feel responsible for how it is. Its just the way it is. Working there has changed her life – and has most definitely changed theirs. She says that over time these women have fondly come to call her “Mamma” and love to share a big hug when she spends time amongst them.
Her goal this trip from her visit back here in Canada includes taking a guitar back so she can worship with them – its something which seems to minister in a way that nothing else can.
“She” is Colleen Guskjolen and she with her husband James are LAC Ministries – that's short for Latin American Ministries. They serve the Latin America and Caribbean areas. They left the comfort and security of Canada – sold off all but a few personal possessions to fulfill the desires of their hearts to reach out to those in need.
Must be quite a change for Colleen to find herself ‘behind bars’ when she used to have a good position in the banking industry here in Canada!
Can you imagine, James and Colleen pray for US, here in Canada as well? They tell us that the needs are JUST as important in Canada and sometimes even harder to effect – so they are not looking for us to take our focus off our needs at home. They also do not want us to feel guilt and shame to live in the affluence that we are blessed with – rather they assure us that because we are so blessed we have a power to help and affect others through their ministry! What a unique outlook!
Their communication with us (held in the home of our Pastor) opened our hearts and gave us a new hope in a mission which is radically different from what we suppose is the usual way to reach those in need. To put it in a nutshell, (besides the programs they already have in place to meet the needs of the poor and impoverished) they have a goal to reach the small percentage of ‘haves’ – those people in key positions of power and authority in these impoverished countries, for through a change in the key players (‘movers and shakers’) it will cause a trickle all the way DOWN to those most in need.
See, we always see the very visual need in the masses – the 80% in most countries… and when we help them, we help them for a time, but eventually the cycle starts all over again. The trickle very rarely goes UP! So, though their ministry will continue to help and feed the needy, they will also focus on training and vocation – and to woo and evangelize to the rich and influential. For Jesus did not tell us to go out and make disciples of just the poor …
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations
Sometimes we forget this. Somehow our minds allow us to think the wealthy don’t need anything, or are unwilling to listen.
So it was refreshing to hear James and Colleen’s take on things – to share in their vision of having people come on board whether through finances (which is one way we can all help, this is the power each one of us has) but also through the EXCITING ministries they are working with – such as already established and to be established vocational training institutions and by providing micro-loans to help people start their own businesses.
I could go on, for I am very enthused and encouraged about what they are doing – instead you can find out more about their work by clicking HERE.
The very fact that you are reading this post and live in a country of wealth and comfort may the be very thing which could unlock the gates to assist those less fortunate, by not only helping to feed but to educate and assist. And of course we can all offer up prayer for James and Colleen as they fulfill their ministry.
photo credit: craigPJ@sxc
As my husband and I sponsor a little girl in Guatemala its encouraging to know these sorts of things might be available to her as well.
UPDATE – I just tried to leave a comment using the form on James and Colleen’s site and it did not work for me. I am emailing them now so if you would like to contact them let me know and perhaps they can get their form functioning again on the site.
I have so much more to share – unrelated to this subject, but have run out of time so I’ll post again in the next day or so. In the meantime, here’s an element which I created from a photo that Donna took of a building – I thought the cherub woud be perfect to add to a layout! You can visit Donna’s blog by clicking HERE – she takes some lovely photos! Thanks for allowing me to turn it into this pretty element.