Monday, March 10, 2008

El Divino Redentor

We had un rico time in Bucaramanga, where “Pastor Gregory” Springer is beloved by all. I’ll post later about all the programs that El Divino Redentor is doing, but for now, I want to post some pictures about their worship services.

Here’s the front of the church:

The building is both the church and the residence for Pastor Israel and his family. This is a problem with the government, because they have a newish policy that requires churches to be in “real” buildings, with parking lots, and approval from neighbors. We are told it is a way to discourage Protestants churches and support Catholic Churches, which are 90% of the churches in Colombia. Pastor Israel is trying to raise funds so they can be in compliance, but it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so, and will take away from their service programs.

Here is the inside:

And here is the alter area (what is that area of a church called, anyway?)

The church day starts at 9:30am with Sunday School, which is more like a Bible study for everyone. It is actually a lot like SS at First Mennonite, with some poor, harassed teacher trying to get a point across while lots of people point out objections and complications. The message this Sunday was a passage from Matthew about being a servant like Jesus and feeding the poor. A concern for service is another way we are similar.

However, even though the content is familiar, the form of the worship service is very different. EDR is a Lutheran church, and it is very much what I grew up with as a Catholic. The sermon was delivered by Maria Elena, who visited FMC a few years ago, so it was nice to see a familiar face. She is the pastor at one of EDR’s “daughter” churches that is now completely self-sufficient.

They had us introduce ourselves during the service, and when we mentioned that FMC was singing Psalm 130 in Spanish in their honor this morning, they asked us to sing it for them. Unfortunately, we had no idea what it was. So they asked us to sing something else, since it is well known how lovely Mennonites can sing. They didn't get the memo that Wilmer and I are terrible singers, and Ken is not good enough to save us. We decided on the doxology, because it is simple, and we all knew the words. Or, at least we thought we did. We started out with confusion over gender (“Praise Him all creatures here below” vs “Praise God all creatures here below”), and then we started singing different lyrics entirely. I thought perhaps there was some other verse that I didn’t know about it. I think mostly we cracked under pressure.

The good news is that EDR may not have noticed, given that we were singing in English, and that, while they have many gifts, congregational singing is not among them. Earlier they were singing a hymn where the bass line is supposed to echo the melody, and Ken was singing it, correctly as far as I could tell. Our hostess got this horrified look on her face, and pointing out to Ken the melody that he was supposed to be singing, thinking he was hopelessly lost and off-beat.
Afterward, they had on the schedule “Tinto & Diologs” which means “Coffee and Conversation,” another thing that made us feel right at home. The also gave a very sweet presentation about Colombia, the message being that Colombia is not just drugs and violence – it is natural beauty and welcoming people, of which EDR has been such a gracious example of. I got a copy of it for our Vacation Bible School this summer.

Here's the Martinez family: (Loraci, Daniell, Paster Israel, and Leandro):

The bad news is that Pastor Israel developed a fever Sunday evening, and went to the hospital, because they are not taking any chances, given that he is recovering from cancer treatment. Keep him in your thoughts are prayers.

Oh, I almost forgot: We presented the JYF photo album, and it was very warmly received. Here's one of the families that provided Gordon and the Kellogs hospitality during their visit (I didn't get their names), and the girls were happy to see the photos:

Finally, here's Ken with his new friend Valeria:


dw said...

Dan--These photos give a wonderful sense of El Divino Redentor. Great narrative, too, esp about the three of you singing Ps. 130 (we read it as a prayer; we didn't sing it). My daughter was so excited to see the girls in the photo holding the scrapbook the JYF made. And your spouse is pretty darn excited about your coming home soon.


brownie said...

I think that area of the church where the altar is located is called "the altar."

Just a guess...