by Paul Olver, Latin America
“Dios proveerá. Eso es todo.” “God will provide. That’s all there is to it.” It was a simple, straightforward answer to a big question. Pastor Casto had just been telling us about the shortages of food and other basic necessities. People who not long ago had good professional, middle class jobs are going hungry. Those at the margins are starving. People are robbing and stealing to stay alive. Women are sleeping on the sidewalk to hold a place in line to get into the supermarket in the morning in the hope that some supplies might have been delivered overnight.
In this context, Pastor Casto’s church was going to host the annual conference meeting the following weekend. Several hundred pastors and lay leaders were expected from all over the country for several days of training and planning, worship and spiritual feeding. The question was: “How will you find food for all those people?” The answer — without hesitation and with a confident smile – “God will provide.”
Pastor Casto went on to say that – like the New Testament church in Acts 2 – no one was going hungry among them. Any members who managed to get some food or supplies brought them to the church to share with those who had less. He said he had no idea where it all came from but there was always food to share — not only within the family of faith but they are feeding people in the neighborhood as well.
At the Latin Leaders Summit, participants raised an offering to buy medical supplies for Pastor Casto and the others with him to take home. The churches in Colombia collected basic medicines and toiletries to send. On Sunday morning at the Camino de Vida (Way of Life) FM Church in Medellin, children and adults put their contribution of a bottle of aspirin or a box of Band-Aids into a suitcase by the door to the auditorium. The tangible expression of solidarity and support was very moving.
Then the concern was: Would those boxes and extra large suitcases of medical supplies make it across the border without being confiscated or being charged extra fees? People were mobilized to pray specifically for this concern. All the packages arrived at their destination with just one $45 charge for an overweight bag. They all were overweight!
One evening during the annual conference a gathering of all the pastors was in progress at the superintendent’s parsonage. There was a knock on the door. Someone had butchered a lamb and was bringing the meat to feed the people at the conference. Although 200 people had preregistered for the Community Church Planting training, by the end of the weekend nearly 400 people had participated. But God provided and there was enough food for everyone.
The treasurer’s report to annual conference included this: “In spite of the disastrous economic reality confronting our country, in the last three years our churches have seen a continued increase in finances, which shows up in their tithe to the conference… These facts make us recognize once again, that the owner of all the gold and silver, the provider of everything is and always will be with us. He will not allow his righteous ones to be forsaken or their descendants to beg for bread. (Psalm 37:25) This is his promise and he is faithful to fulfill his promises. Glory to God, Jehovah-Jireh, our provider!”