From Hit Man to Pastor, Meet Edier

October 30 2019

Edier Osvaldo Ruiz began his life of crime 40 years ago. While only a child, 11 or 12 years old, he became a part of the Medellín criminal cartel, made famous by its leader, Pablo Escobar. From a young age, Edier served as a contract killer, murdering people in Medellín and beyond.

Edier lived with his mother and six siblings, earning just enough to scrape by in those early years. By age 13, he quit school to dedicate his life to crime. He soon began to climb the ranks in the crime world. At 14, he met Pablo Escobar and his family and was given a home as a reward. From 1990-92, Edier was one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals. In 1993, police killed Pablo Escobar in his hometown of Medellin. Within a couple months of killing him, they captured Edier in a huge sting operation.

Edier was indicted on 14 offenses, including homicide, possession of illegal arms, drug trafficking, and kidnapping to name a few. He was sentenced to 60-70 years but eventually received a 48-year sentence.

In February 1994, Edier arrived at Bellavista Prison, where he had to constantly watch his back because he had so many enemies within the walls. When he arrived on the 8th cell block of Bellavista, he soon heard about the price on his head of $150 million pesos or $175,000 US. Edier’s life was in danger daily.

After serving a few years, some Christians within the prison introduced Jesus to Edier, offering him the chance to change his life. Several of the new converts included men who had once worked for him. He thought they were crazy because he never liked Christians.

After several attempts on his life (a couple times he was severely wounded) and transferring prisons multiple times to protect him, he began to receive encouraging notes from those old friends who had converted. They shared that they had changed, that the Bible had transformed their lives. But Edier just laughed and made fun of their decisions.

The new believers continued to send him letters, telling him that Jesus loved him despite his past, but Edier thought, “How could God forgive a man as evil as I? How could a person who murdered so many, who had left mothers without their sons, wives without their husbands, children without their parents be loved and forgiven?

Near the end of 1996, Edier got transferred again to the high security wing of Bellavista after another attempt on his life, where he reunited in person with those friends who had found Christ. They faithfully shared Jesus with him. Then, in the middle of the night, he heard a voice that said His power was greater than all the power Edier had ever had in the world. The voice said he should call to Him, and He would teach Edier mighty hidden things that he did not know. Edier thought he was going crazy. For two nights, the voice was constant, calling him, telling him that He was Edier’s Savior, that he created him with a purpose to be a man who was more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ.

Here is the rest of the story in Edier’s own words, “On the morning of November 27, 1996, I heard singing, and God told me to leave my cell and go to the singing. I arrived, and there were the “hallelujah people.” There were about 50 inmates praising, exalting, and glorifying the name of God. I stood at the entrance and started to shake. I just wanted to get out of there, but when I ran out, they had closed the gate so I couldn’t leave. The Christians came to me and prayed over me. While they prayed, I was stretched out on the floor. Then, they opened the gate, and I fled to my cell and began to cry … One brother brought me a Bible and said, ‘Look, boss, from now on this is your weapon. It has 66 shots. Take it! You will be alright, don’t worry. We are your brothers. We will help you. We will care for you in Jesus’s name. Press on!’ As I wept, I began to read the Bible. I spent the next 3 to 4 days reading it and praying about my shameful state before God, asking forgiveness, repenting of my sins, and all I had done.

“Then I heard God say, ‘If today you wish to believe in my beloved son Jesus Christ, you shall be a new creature. All the old things shall pass away from your life, and all shall be made new.’

“On that day, I surrendered all.”

In 2005, Edier was released from prison … after serving just 11 years. He reunited and reconciled with his family, got married, was baptized, and began to regularly share his faith. After a year of faithfully volunteering, Prison Fellowship offered him a role on the evangelism team to work in the prison. OMS Colombia missionaries discipled him, and he served with ECC for four years.

Today, Edier and his wife lead a church. He returned to school and studied at the Colombia Biblical Seminary. God also gave him the courage to face his victims’ families to ask for forgiveness. Total reconciliation is so powerful, and so is our God.

If you'd like to help advance the Gospel to see others like Edier receive Christ, you can give here.

Tags: prison, crime, transformation prison ministry, colombia, pablo escobar,

Blessing a Colombian Widow After Tragedy

August 5 2019

After an armed paramilitary group martyred her husband, a man who had served as the pastor of a One Mission Society-founded church in Colombia, Angi* began praying daily and fasting weekly. She prayed constantly that God would provide for her family and reveal his faithfulness to her and her children, who had lost faith after their father was killed for the sake of the Gospel. She prayed and fasted faithfully for seven years before I met her and heard her story. Her situation, while impossibly difficult, did not deter her from persistently seeking the presence of her heavenly Father and trusting him to provide for her needs and restore her family.

A little over a year ago, I met Angi and visited her in Córdoba, Colombia. I found her to be a quiet, humble woman. She said little and busied herself serving lunch to those of us who had come to meet her. She cooked a full, traditional Colombian lunch of soup, chicken, rice, and plantains over a fire behind her tiny house. We talked a little about her husband, their church-planting ministry, and the tragic reality of his death at the hands of violent men. Believing that God orchestrated this meeting, we prayerfully decided to give the global church the opportunity to provide a dignified home for this precious widow. Many of you responded and gave generously toward the construction of a new home.

During the construction, we noticed how the community paid close attention to what was happening and that her family was also present. Her grown children witnessed God´s faithfulness to his beloved servant, and I have seen a transformation in their hearts. They have returned to faith because the Lord heard and answered their mother’s persistent prayers of faith.

We are now completing the project by helping her open a small community store in the front bedroom of the house. Customers will approach the front window to purchase items from the full-service, general store. Remaining funds for the project will be used to add an awning, signage, shelving, refrigeration, and product inventory to begin the store, which Angi and her son will run. The beauty of this project is that God has provided a dignified home, a restored family, a strong testimony to the community, and a store that will produce an income source for Angi and will bless the neighborhood.

I am truly grateful for each person who gave toward this project and for those who prayed that God would provide for Angi and show his faithfulness. We have seen the answer to prayer on both accounts. Thank you for your faithfulness and generosity!

By Chris Williams, OMS Colombia Field Director

Tags: colombia, widow, martyr, pastor, new house

Miracles in Colombia

February 28 2019

In 1944, OMS had recently entered Colombia to begin ministry in the midst of WWII and a lot of countrywide violence. OMS leaders Bud Kilbourne and Harry Woods decided a Bible institute was needed to set a firm foundation for the growing ministry. But where would they find a property for a seminary? And where would they find the funds to purchase it?

Well, in only ways that God can work, within hours, they had found a property at a reasonable (albeit seemingly unattainable) price. The seller demanded $20,000 in cash. Unbeknownst to Kilbourne and Woods in Colombia, 10 days earlier the Lord had spoken to then OMS President, Lettie Cowman, instructing her to empty the coffers of her Streams in the Desert account and have the money sent to Colombia. (The OMS bookkeeper thought she had misunderstood Mrs. Cowman as it was such a strange request.)

The next day, Kilbourne and Woods received four checks of $5,000 each or $20,000 total … the exact amount needed to purchase the seminary … and this in 1944 in the midst of war! Only God …

After 75 years of ministry at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia, God still continues to graciously provide in miraculous ways. He uses people like you to change one life at a time. Would you consider giving a gift today to train tomorrow’s leaders for Colombia and beyond? Click below to give to the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.

Tags: colombia seminary, biblical seminary of colombia, medellin, miracles, provision,

​Theological Education in Colombia: Rooted and Engaged

February 21 2019

In fulfilling our formative mission of persons to serve God, the church, and society, the Biblical Seminary of Colombia is committed to impart theological education that is firmly rooted in the Scriptures and deeply engaged with our context. As such, we are challenged to develop academic initiatives that explore biblical answers to the socio-political realities of Colombia.

Some of the realities of the socio-political scene in Colombia are:

  • •a peace agreement signed in 2017 between the Colombian government and the oldest and largest guerrilla group, after more than six decades of civil war.
  • •the polarization between different approaches to the implementation of this peace agreement and peace conversations with other groups.
  • •corruption as a rampant phenomenon that permeates all spheres of society, including religious organizations.
  • •implementation of legislation to guarantee religious freedom in the country, alongside the pluralistic character of our society.

As an expression of our rootedness and engagement, our strategic plan has three core themes: peacemaking, integrity vs corruption, and faith in a pluralistic context. With this in mind, new initiatives have been put in action:

1. Integral missiology and the human flourishing of internally displaced persons in Colombia (research project).

The civil war and the violence related to drug traffic has resulted in more than six million people forcibly displaced in Colombia in the last two decades. This project focuses on the humanitarian crisis of internal displacement in Colombia. The big question that orients the project is: how might a renewed theology of integral missiology, enriched by empirical social-scientific analysis, mobilize local Protestant churches to foment the holistic (spiritual, social, psychological, and economic) human flourishing of Colombian displaced persons?

2. Living our vocation as peacemakers (diploma course)

This modular course responds to requests of pastors and denominations to help them understand and carry out the church’s call to peacemaking in the historical moment of Colombia. Designed in cooperation with three other institutions, as a witness of joint service, this course has been offered to churches in areas deeply affected by violence.

3. Seminars, academic discussions

To address the scourge of corruption, a seminar entitled Voices Against Corruption has been offered in different cities of the country. Challenges that the peace agreement poses for the church have been addressed in class and in open discussions for the seminary community.

4. The Biblical Seminary of Colombia, at the invitation of the national government, participated in conversations between the government and the religious sector leading to the formulation of a national policy of religious freedom, approved in March of 2019. As part of the implementation of this policy, BSC is the only theological school member of this national religious sector think tank.

5. Our commitment to sound biblical teaching and preaching is expressed in our participation in a national project of formation of Bible expositors and in our diploma course on Christian Education. Thus, we help nurture the faith of the church in our pluralistic context.

In 2019, we celebrate 75 years of God’s faithfulness expressed in sustaining and using BSC. Join us in gratitude, and pray that we continue to be rooted and engaged.

By Elizabeth Sendek, President, Biblical Seminary of Colombia

Tags: theological education, colombia, seminary, biblical seminary of colombia,

​7 Things We’ve Learned About God’s Faithfulness at Colombia Biblical Seminary

February 8 2019

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is a great privilege to share with you a brief testimony of what God is teaching us as a family at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.

  • 1. He is teaching us the value and meaning of waiting. God has heard our cries as we wait and pray, teaching us that his response is always best and timely for us.
  • 2. We are learning the value of gratitude. We have experienced unparalleled joy in witnessing the manifold blessings that God gives, and we are thrilled to testify of his goodness toward us.
  • 3. We have learned the value of the local church and that being part of the body of Christ is one of the greatest privileges and blessings that God has prepared for us.
  • 4. We have learned the value of giving and receiving. Joy is not only found in receiving but also in giving. As we witness how our brothers and sisters in Christ are willing to give everything they have to bless God’s children.
  • 5. We have learned the value and power in prayer. Our absolute dependence on him is manifested in a constant life of prayer, and we are learning to truly and fully depend on his answers to our prayers.
  • 6. We have learned that trusting in God is an exercise that helps us grow and mature our faith.
  • 7. We have learned that this journey is not about us but about the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Matos family can testify that we have been blessed throughout this process in the Biblical Seminary of Colombia. God has blessed us with health and has provided us the opportunity to grow together as a family.

En Cristo (In Christ),

David Matos family

Tags: colombia, biblical seminary of colombia, study theology,

​Scared But Happy: A letter from a new seminary student at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia

February 5 2019

Beloved pastor and friend,

I wanted to write to tell you about the beginning of the adventure at Colombia Biblical Seminary.

It is hard to believe that God can use me. I have felt that I am not capable or worthy, but the devotionals we heard during orientation reminded me of some things:

  • God called me and he is not going to change his mind now.
  • I am a disciple who will not stop learning from the Master; my main call is to have an intimate relationship with the Lord.
  • The fact of being called does not guarantee that it ends well, so I must be more careful of what I do.
  • The key word of both devotionals was called, and that has encouraged and motivated me to continue believing that God brought us here to fulfill his purpose in our lives and in that of the church.

They have a student welfare program that is very focused on giving us holistic formation. There are sports, health, recreation, and cultural activities. It’s good to know that we will have a life apart from academics. I was surprised to learn that the seminary not only trains in theological aspects, but it also forms in us the social, physical, mental, and relational aspect.

They want us to be good at what we do AND who we are! We must learn to read in English (another surprise), volunteer a certain number of hours of service per semester, participate in research projects with professors, make the library "our second home," devote about five hours per day to study outside the classroom, do ministerial practice in a church, and take extreme care not to commit plagiarism or cheat on exams or assignments, which is great, but I fear messing up accidentally. Bottom line, the level of excellence that they expect is greater than I anticipated.

I must confess that I like it but am afraid. I am not afraid of the challenges, after all, we wanted to be trained as well as possible, to get out of our “comfort zone” and into the “growth zone,” but a few things have me worried. For example, I do not read well in English, I don’t know how to type, and I am not great with time management. So much goes through the mind; I really hope to live up to what God wants and what the church expects from us. I feel like a first-time father, scared but happy!

I am grateful to God, to the church, and to you. To God, it is a joy to know that I am called by him and to know he will sustain and keep us. To the church, it is a privilege and a great responsibility to be the first missionaries sent and supported by her. To you, my pastor, thank you for believing in us, supporting us amid our own doubts, and expressing love and care as no other pastor has done for me before. You are a friend and example to follow. Without your support and vision, we could not be here today. Thank you so much. I cannot adequately express my deep gratitude and love for you, your family, and the church.

Tags: colombia biblical seminary, seminary training, theological education, colombia, anniversary,

Dynamic Women in Missions Medical Mission - Colombia

November 30 2018

Tags: medical missions, dynamic women in missions, colombia

Upcoming Dynamic Women in Missions Trips

May 9 2018

Ecuador, Israel, and Peru

Tags: short-term missions, colombia, israel, japan, evangelism, medical, holy land,

​Healing Words in Medical Missions

June 19 2018

I traveled to Medellín, Colombia, (on a Dynamic Women in Missions short-term medical trip) as a translator and medic and worked in several different areas. In triage, I was asked by a patient, “Why does your team do all this if you get nothing for it?”

I asked the Lord to give me an answer that would glorify him.

I answered, “We want people to know that Jesus cares for you. He loves you, and he wants nothing in return.” The patient was amazed and thanked me.

While waiting to translate for Dr. Breen, I sat in the cubical with a patient and asked her about her symptoms. She told me that she hurts from her shoulders down into her arms because she is the main provider in her house, working her ranch on her own with two daughters and a very old father. She has all this pain because of the hard labor she does.

I was quiet and debating if I should pray with her. Finally, I grabbed her hand, “Let’s pray. God does not give us more than we can handle,” I said.

We prayed and cried together. She was so thankful for our prayer. I suddenly realized why I was called to so many different areas to help. God used me for more than just translating. I had great conversations, showed compassion, and fervently prayed with patients, showing that these qualities are also part of healing.

By Idalia Lazo, Translator and medic on a Dynamic Women in Missions trip

Tags: short-term missions, medical missions, colombia, medical trip,

​Am I Too Old to Go? Serving in short-term missions

June 13 2018

I experienced missions firsthand as a teenager with my church youth group from World Gospel Church. Since then, missions has become an integral part of my life journey. Thirty mission trips later as I prepared to embark on a Dynamic Women in Missions trip to Colombia to serve as a nurse on a medical team, I asked myself some serious questions.

  • Can I keep up with the demands of this trip?
  • Will I be able to effectively communicate with my patients?
  • Do I have as much to offer now as I did in my earlier years?

Since my recent retirement, I wondered if short-term missions was over for me and would I be able to meet the rigors of the trip.

On the second day of clinic in Medellín, Colombia, God began to answer these questions.

The patient/nurse communication issue was seamless when I was assigned a godly young woman who loves people and the Lord with all her heart. Karen partnered with me and attacked the interview process with thoroughness and enthusiasm.

Furthermore, the clinic environment fostered collaboration and collegiality between the health care providers, the patients, and the local church hosts. What a blessing to see God’s hand on the human efforts to real spiritual rewards!

This was my first experience with DWIM and I was not sure how I would relate and fit in with an all-female team. Once again, God was faithful to lead me to a roommate who could encourage and support me and who I could mentor during the trip. The spiritual depth within the team was powerful and made the experience rich and meaningful.

So, the answer to my question: “am I too old to go?” was clearly answered. God proved himself faithful once again by equipping me physically, professionally, and spiritually to accomplish the tasks set before me in Colombia. Only God knows the future, but I am waiting with anticipation to tackle the next mission, whether going or sending.

To God be the Glory!

By Pam Blesch, Dynamic Women in Missions Short-Termer

For more information about how YOU can get involved: https://onemissionsociety.org/give/dynamic-women

To give to Dynamic Women: https://onemissionsociety.org/give/dynamic-women

Tags: missions, dynamic women in missions, colombia, medical missions, too old to serve,