• Gustavo Driau

Lutheran School of Theology, Bogotá Colombia

The Lutheran School of Theology (LST) is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Colombia, IELCO.

Nelida Mora is the coordinator of the LST.

One of the students at LST wrote the following interesting note.

My name is Maribel Monsalve Celis; I live in the city of Bucaramanga, Department of Santander, Colombia, which is a city of hard-working people, where the desire to improve, especially of women, is highlighted.

Our culture has taught us the importance of being leaders in the home, taking charge of it so that nothing is lacking, and everything goes very well.

Likewise, we work to contribute to the home and provide community service, and, in my case, also ecclesial. For these characteristics, among others, we are known as brave, impulsive women, of a strict character in every way.

They are the characteristics and teachings inherited from our ancestors, who fought hard to achieve their purposes and ours, in addition to giving us their example of life, which we have followed.

I have been married to Pedro Mayorga for 35 years, and as in any marriage, we have overcome many challenges. We have only one daughter, Diana Marcela because due to our economic situation and thinking of giving her the best, we do not program more children.

It fills us with joy to know that, although Diana did not have everything we wanted to give her, she never claimed us, and God always accompanied us in the task of parents.

Diana did not agree with our decision and always complained to us why we did not give her siblings. Diana stated that, when she got married, she would have a large family, and she did so. Diana married and has three children, of whom she lives very proud.

We feel happy like her parents because it is very nice to see her become a mother, the responsible way of running her home, how loving she is with her family and dedication to her work.

I am very happy to see how Diana leads her home, following the path that she has inherited and through which she guides her family. She does not congregate in our church, but she is a God-fearing daughter and very dedicated to her work.

My relationship with God was very intermittent, and I understood that that was fine. My husband did not have that love for God, that hurt and saddened me.

I used to assist the Catholic Church, and it was a real challenge for me every Sunday to go to mass. Well, although I was not constant in my Spiritual life, I was formed with the respect that God deserves and attend mass.

One day I felt the need to pray for my husband because I realized that he needed a change in his thinking about God.

In my prayers, I always wanted and asked God that, at some point, my husband would accompany me and listen to words of life, that his heart would be filled with peace and that he could see how wonderful it is to be on the Lord's side.

The first lesson I learned: every time you ask the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, He always responds, perhaps not in the way we ask, but in a thousand better ways.

Time passed, one Sunday, he wanted to accompany me to mass, and that is how my prayers were fulfilled: I went hand in hand with him to the church to adore and thank God and listen to his word. Little by little, he made a change in my husband's way of thinking about God and his behavior towards the family.

I tell this testimony with great joy, because it was one of the greatest miracles in my Christian life, and how things come when the Lord wants and in surprising ways.

As the changes were taking place, something in our Being urged us to seek more because we want to fill our hearts; We are firmly structuring our Spiritual life, which infuses us with a sense of belonging and the desire to serve our brothers.

The concerns of wanting to know more about the things of God prompted us to search for a Church that would fulfill our desire. Initially, we came to a Christian church where they taught us a lot about the word of God, but their rules were very harsh, and we felt uncomfortable. God did not want this for our lives; He wanted us to follow him out of love, but not out of fear or imposition.

Through Pastor María Helena Racines, we had the opportunity to meet Pastor Israel Martínez, who was the person who, with all his patience and dedication, was teaching us a new and not easy path.

Because when we start a new life, taking things seriously, we question why we were doing something wrong in many ways. We should leave that older man, even if it costs, even if the first barrier we must jump in the family, the customs of how we have lived together.

Change is hard; we thought that we would not combine in many things, and this generated fear. Pastor Israel taught us, according to the gospel. We moved forward and decided to belong to the El Divino Redentor Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bucaramanga.

We found in the cult something special and its members a kind welcome that filled us with peace. We learned to participate in Bible studies and Church service, which made me feel valued and useful. Also, I was happy to see that my husband wanted to know more about the Lord Jesus, participate, learn, and above all, be a new person in every way.

Several years passed, delighting us in Sunday services, Bible studies, and worship. I prayed to God

for a Ministry and granted me to be a children's Sunday School teacher as part of a wonderful and enthusiastic team.

The Holy Spirit guides me in working with children. They captivated me with their innocence and sweetness as they received the Word of God. The Children's Ministry grew, preparing itself in the knowledge of God and his Word. God allowed me to lead the Women's Ministry, with whom we learn about God and motivate ourselves to participate together in many local and national activities.

More and more, I have been shaped by God as a clay pot, to be better.

I experienced in tough tests. Among them, my transfer to the Lutheran Church of San Juan de Piedecuesta; It seemed hard to start over, but God had great things for me. In this church, I am part of its Board of Directors; I also work with the Ministry of children, the Ministry of women.

To the joy of my heart, God granted me a beautiful mission called La María, which is a settlement of people displaced many years ago. Upon their arrival, Pastor Israel helped them with quite a few projects. However, it is still a community in great financial need.

The children live in total abandonment, without education or economic and emotional support. His parents lead a very hopeless way of life, mired in alcohol, games, and other kinds of vices. By the hand of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, we show them a different world, teaching them the hope for better things, which our Heavenly Father grants us in his divine grace, nourishing us and giving meaning to our lives. If we propose and make an effort, we achieve our dreams, with the help of God.

Together with Pastor Luz Marly Díaz, we started a homework counseling program, child worship, motivating them to use their Bibles and their love of study.

COVID-19 temporarily suspended this program. We are looking for resources to provide the place with Computers and the Internet, to be able to continue our task, knowing that when God begins something, he ends it.

The Lutheran School of Theology installed a Campus in Piedecuesta in 2019, which motivated us to take the opportunity to prepare and follow a biblical-theological formation process. With the guidance, orientation, and preparation of the Lutheran School of Theology it allows us to carry out a well-founded study of the Bible, with solid and clear foundations.

We are preparing to continue carrying out the work of the Integral Gospel with greater understanding and effectiveness, to be effective guides and not "blind leading the blind," which is ultimately fatal.

The Lutheran School, for me, has been a blessing from God, allowing me to do my studies in a rewarding, wonderful, and important way. For me, LST is a unique opportunity to obtain biblical-theological training with a view to the Ecclesial Degree in Theological Studies and why not ... to Pastoral Ministry.

Besides LST, I am currently also training in the Ministry of Leadership Formation, which I coordinate for this region.

Now we are developing a project for the elderly that is very nice and encouraging because, with it, we give it the true importance that they should have within a community.

With this project, we reach them with a voice of encouragement, prayer, smiles, attention, accompaniment, listening to their life experiences, an open book with many things to teach, and show them that they matter to God and to us too.

We should make known to the new generations the stories lived, the experiences that allowed them to get to where they are, the vulnerable that they become. God grants us the privilege of applying to them a commandment of selfless and fruitful love and mercy.

Nelida Mora. LST (IELCO) Coordinator

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