As a child, about every four years, my dad took us to Colombia to visit family. My dad is from Bogota, Colombia, having immigrated to the United States when he was 18 years old to attend college. My mom’s family is from South Georgia and we regularly saw those grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. To have family on another continent was a bit exotic for me so I highly anticipated each trip, making those trips vivid in my memory.
In 1980, we took what would be our last trip to Colombia for nearly 20 years because there was such political uncertainty in the country. I didn’t realize it then, at the age of 11, that it would be so long before I would see those family members again. Around the same time, I had accepted Christ as my Savior and my mind was alive and alert to spiritual truths. One thing was very clear to me—to know and love God meant having a relationship with Him and to not have a relationship with Him meant separation from God.
The Prayer of a Child
I began asking my mom questions about my Colombian family members. Did they know God? Did they go to church? Did they read their Bible? Did they love God? Did they love His Word? Would we be together in heaven one day?
She answered that their relationship with God centered on a cultural religious observance and not a personal relationship with Him. This made me very sad because I understood no relationship with God meant separation from God. My mom simply told me to pray for my family.
With the faith of a child who did not understand all the spiritual things and who was not even consistent or faithful enough to pray every day, I asked God to show Himself to my Colombian family. I had no idea how it would happen, but I prayed that it would.
Years passed and the Lord would bring to mind my Colombian family who did not know Him. I would hear of various missionaries and reformed ministries serving Colombia, and I would pray for them to have a reach into the cities where my family lived.
Almost six years ago, I attended the international PCA women’s conference in Atlanta, GA, where I heard Susan Hunt speak on biblical womanhood. In her seminar, Susan shared about her friendship with Fanny de Gomez that led to her trip to the Dominican Republic to teach these reformed truths to the women of Central America. I sat there and once again my heart began to pray for my family in Colombia to have access to these reformed doctrines of grace.
When the invitation came to serve with the Transformada team led by Kathryn Stephens to Cali, Colombia, to teach the women how to think biblically and live covenantally, I was excited with how God might be answering my prayers. It would be the first reformed women’s conference in the country focused on how to live as women for the glory of God.
On the first day of the conference, the registration table was set up with signs listing the names of the cities represented by the women: Fusugasuga, Bogota, Barranquilla, Zipaquira, Medellin, Cali, Cartagena, and so on. These were the cities that I had visited as a child, cities I had prayed for by name, and the Lord again reminded me of those prayers I prayed as a child for my Colombian family. I was overcome with the knowledge that God had been working through the years and through His people in both Colombia and the United States to make His word known.
As the women from those cities took their registration packets, I freshly understood His work as a covenant keeping God who is faithful to all the generations, who answers the prayers of His people, and who loves with a steadfast love. The women present at the conference were the evidence of a child’s prayers. I realized that God has answered, is answering, and will continue to answer the prayer to make Himself known.
This is what we mean when we talk about our covenantal God. His plans and purposes are beyond what we can ask or imagine as He works through people, events, and circumstances to make Himself known. In Colombia, as these women raised their hands and voices in singing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” God allowed me to see a glimpse of His marvelous work in Colombia.
In Revelation 7 we have a picture of the universal Church, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'”
The women of Colombia are evidence of His amazing grace and mercy. May we have eyes of faith to see who else will belong to Him, and may we never stop praying for His work throughout the world.
Lisa Hellier serves as a National Women’s Ministry Trainer with the PCA and loves all opportunities to teach women how to study God’s word. She is married to Jim and stays involved as mom to three sons–a college freshman, a new Marine, and a high school freshman. Having recently relocated to Flowood, MS, she is still trying to find all the “stuff” and once found, find a place for it!