The leader of a group from Divine Healing Ministries which travelled to Colombia said it was their most successful trip ever.
Bro David Jardine, who founded Divine Healing Ministries 15 years ago, said the welcome the five-strong party had received in the city of Cali, which is notorious for drugs, terrorism and crime, was amazing.
As the current president tries to tackle these problems, David said the city is being renewed through faith, with packed all night prayer vigils taking place twice a year in Cali’s 55,000 seat stadium.
“We went into a church on a Sunday night in a very poor and dangerous area of Cali, and the welcome the people gave us was wonderful,” David said.
“We were greeted by women, dressed as ushers, who gave everyone a hug and a kiss. They were so pleased to see us. There are very few foreigners in Colombia because of the perception that it is dangerous.
“We were quite safe because we stayed within the limitations our hosts placed on us and did not go walking in certain areas.”
The group travelled as guests of Pastor Hendrik Hoere, a Dutchman who has worked as a Pentecostal Pastor in Cali for 20 years. He is a close friend of group member Paul Shields of West Church Presbyterian, Bangor.
During the 12 days in Colombia, David said that in every situation he and the group knew they were surrounded by the prayers of people in the background. “This trip caught the imagination of many people in our own ministry,” he said.
He spoke of one particular service when he preached in a church packed with 1,200 worshippers. “I had to stand up in that church where the atmosphere was electric and speak Spanish. I always did the welcome in Spanish, and then used a translator when doing my teaching.”
Before leaving for South America, David said the Colombians had been hoping for miracles. “They did get miracles,” he said. “Before we left we prayed for a man with prostrate cancer. When I got home I heard that he has since been to see his doctor and the cancer has almost gone.”
He went on: “The churches were always packed and when we started to pray many people fell over and others started to vibrate. It was obviously a sign that healing was badly needed in their lives. They were people who had had very tough times.”
He described Cali as a city of contrasts. Near the airport it was prosperous, the restaurants were inexpensive and the food was superb. Yet there was also huge poverty, and one day they visited a children’s project linked to a church. There they spoke, sang and prayed with boys aged eight to 12, but things turned difficult when the group went to leave.
“The boys wanted money from us, but we did not have any and when they heard that they got aggressive and we had to get out of there quickly. We heard afterwards that it is the 12-year-olds responsible for a lot of shooting in the city,” David said.
The group visited a statue of Christ on a hillside, similar to the famous Corcovado statue in Rio. There they found themselves conducting impromptu prayers for a man who had had polio as a child and could not walk. They were soon inundated with requests, from a girl on a motorbike, the chefs in the nearby restaurant, to customers in a souvenir shop.
“These people wanted prayer and were quite happy to receive it even in a public place,” said David.
At a church in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, 1,500 came to worship three times every Sunday. “I asked the pastor the secret of getting 1,500 in church three times every Sunday and he said growth as an individual or as a church begins with brokenness. When you have surrendered completely to God you can begin to grow,” he said.
David is hoping people in Northern Ireland will pray daily for Colombia, and those he met in Colombia will pray for people here. “We will both only benefit from mutual prayer,” he said.
Accompanying David on the trip were Paul Shields; Ronnie Orr from Knock Presbyterian, Belfast; Eric Lewis, from St Hilda’s Church of Ireland, Kilmakee; and Don McCartney from Dundrod Presbyterian.
A camera crew from Straightforward Productions in Northern Ireland also joined the group for a number of days as the trip will feature in a documentary the company is making on the healing ministry, to be broadcast later this year.
Eric Lewis has written a report on his experiences in Colombia, and this can be downloaded here.