People frequently contemplate what they can leave to their children as an inheritance: a comfortable house, shares in a successful company, a beautiful heirloom necklace, or the first car that a grandfather bought. There is a legacy in my family that has crossed mountains, rivers, and times of war and peace. It is a legacy that continues in our veins to this very moment.
My maternal grandparents live in Galindo, a small town in the north of Colombia. Their lives were dedicated to fishing and cultivating rice near the Cauca River. It was on this river in 1951, that the first One Mission Society missionaries sailed the small boat, The Cruzado, from which they shared the Gospel with those living along the river. Several years later, OMS built a small school and a church in which my grandparents served, shepherded families, and reared their six children in the love of God.
Many miles away in the thick mountains of Santander lives my paternal grandmother, a cultivator of chocolate. She once told me, "I first heard the Gospel as something we should not pay attention to because it was something dangerous.” One holy week my sister told me about an event in Popayan, where Brother Eugenio (Eugene) Wittig, an American Missionary from OMS, would be sharing the Gospel. As soon as I heard the good news of salvation, I accepted it in my heart. Seventeen years later my grandmother lost her husband, but with the strength that the Gospel gave her, she raised his five children in the faith and in the church. She also recounts how missionary, Vernon Young, carried school supplies and the teacher’s salary to the small missionary school, and that he would stop at her door to drink some water. Tragically, on February 6, 1976, Vernon did not arrive. A few hours later my grandmother discovered that he had an accident crossing the river and was gone from this life to be with his Savior. The impact that Vernon made is still felt among the brethren there.
Years later, a young Elmis (my mother) from Bolivar, and a young Claudio (my father) from Santander, were led by the Holy Spirit to attend the Colombian Bible Seminary in the city of Medellín. Even though they were from different cultures, they shared not only a deep love for Jesus but also that they counted on the generosity of supporters in the United States to pursue their studies; my mother in education and my father in theology. There was no questioning what they would do after graduation because they had already committed themselves to serve as pastors in the Interamerican church.
And here we are today, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, who have seen the overwhelming love of God, and who serve Him with everything he has placed in our hands. We can truly say with confidence, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).
For those who pray, for those who give, and for those who go, do not grow weary for your work is never in vain! Many others and me are the fruit of the prayers, gifts, and missionaries who came to Colombia to bless us with a legacy like no other… Jesus.