The first week in Bogota did not happen has planned, due to the death of Guillermo Gomez’s father. The conference and classes scheduled for that week (April 19-22) were cancelled. Yet, the fellowship with the brethren was strengthened by this providence. I spent the days at the Gomez’s apartment, Guillermo’s mother was also there. Visits to the funeral home, attendance to the funeral church service (where I was asked to preach), and to the cemetery service, were sad but at the same time the grace of God proved sufficient. Most of the time was spent in further review and preparation for the Module, in talks with Guillermo and Jorge, and in seeking to minister the comfort of Scripture to the family.
The first Lord’s day there (April 24) I was entrusted with Sunday school class (I gave the first part of “How to Better Profit from the Ministry of the Word”), the morning service (I preached a sermon entitled “Creation and Fall from Genesis 1-3″), and the afternoon Bible study (an exposition of Proverbs 3:21-26). The church service is well attended in the morning, with between 150-170 persons. The Lord helped me greatly and the church family there is easy to teach and preach to. They are a very grateful and attentive congregation. Their hospitality is humbling, and I was blessed and edified by being among them. The meal took place there at their meeting place.
The second week was in Chinauta (less than 1 hr from Bogota but the actual trip was closer to 4 hours due to traffic and highway construction). The place where the Module took place is a cottage with several buildings (dorms, kitchen and cafeteria, meeting room, etc) that was built specifically to host such events (see photo below). The Reformed Baptist Seminary and Facultad Teológica Bautista have rented this place for the last 3 years to host these Modules.
The weather was very warm during the day but cooler at night due to the rain that we enjoyed in the evenings. There were 49 men in attendance (pastors and ministerial candidates), two of them had already gone through the complete Marrow program, one of them had graduated the other was repeating the program in order to finish work needed to graduate. Perhaps 90% were from pentecostal/charismatic background. Although I expected resistance to the teaching, the Lord was pleased both to help me in the delivery and to grant a teachable spirit (though one young man left after the first day because he did not agree with our teaching method).
The Module was on Doctrine of the Word, the teaching took 21 hours, following an outline prepared by Jorge Castañeda (which in effect combined material from four sources and ended being quite long and full and well over seminary-level). There were three 1 hour sessions in the morning, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A, and another three 1 hour sessions in the afternoon also followed by 30 min of Q&A. Their questions were good and appropriate, although sometimes strayed away from the subject at hand into other topics. There were quizzes every morning and the students performed very well. There was also a final exam at the end of the Module.
The Module covered three main parts: after an Introduction dealing with the roman catholic, the liberal and the neo-orthodox concepts of the Word, we presented the biblical doctrine of the Word. The First Part dealt with foundational issues such as Revelation (General and Especial), Special Revelation (characteristics), Canon, Textual Criticism, and Translation. The Second Part was a fuller exposition of Scripture’s Characteristics dealing with Inspiration, Inerrancy, Clarity, Sufficiency, Authority, and Trustworthiness (Infallibility). The Third Part dealt with Implications such as Its Necessity, Its Cessation, and the Spirit’s Work of Illumination. It was the section of Cessationism that concerned me the most, due to the theological and ecclesiastical background of the students, however, since we spent 20 hours on foundation and attributes, the implication about the cessation of extraordinary spiritual gifts was easier to understand. Overall there was acceptance and reception of the teaching.
The times of meals and other informal meetings were very enjoyable. I had opportunity to meet the men, speak and pray with them, and strengthen the bonds of love with Guillermo and Jorge.
The second Lord’s day there (May 1) was similar to the previous Lord’s day. I finished the Sunday school class on “How to Better Profit from the Ministry of the Word,” preached a sermon entitled “Cain and Abel and Seth” from Genesis 4. The afternoon study was an exposition of Proverbs 3::27-35. The afternoon was spent talking with the brethren and saying our “good-byes” with much gratitude and sadness. I was invited for supper at the home of one of the church’s families, and spent the evening talking with Guillermo.
Early on Monday (May 2) Guillermo took me to the airport, where we had coffee and spent the last minutes talking and praying. It was sad to say good-bye to him and to Colombia. The Lord seemingly is blessing the church and the Gospel there, and there is much advancement in the Reformation. There is a lot of work ahead, but the fact of 50 men attending these Modules gives much hope of what the Lord might do in Colombia.
I came back tired and spent, but thankful and edified, and blessed by being among the brethren there. Thank you for your prayers and help in this endeavor.
Pastor of La Iglesia Bautista Betel, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico
Instructor for Reformed Baptist Seminary