Lessons Learned in Cartagena

By John Maassen

Three groups of people benefited from our trip to Cartagena, Colombia. First there were the people that newly invited Jesus into their hearts. There were also the men and women from the four Colombian churches who were better equipped to continue making disciples after we left. The final group was the seven of us. We were all enriched by this trip.

Tuesday morning, a girl in her late teens invited us into her home. Following our presentation, she made the decision to follow Jesus. Immediately afterwards, however, her mother entered the room and scolded her daughter, “Do not believe that Jesus was God!” I responded that the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is God.

After that encounter, I felt helpless, at least in the worldly sense. I could do nothing more than pray for the girl. I know that it is the Lord who saves and causes faith to sprout and grow. If her confession of faith was sincere, the Holy Spirit, perhaps through the pastor will guard this girl’s new faith and even lead her mother to Jesus. We explained the situation to the pastor, and he will visit the girl and her mother.

John Maassen sharing his testimony
John Maassen sharing his testimony and the Gospel in homes in Cartagena
We connected with many people in homes and on streets. I repeated my testimony over a hundred times and adapted it slightly in each situation. I even started to think that my testimony was boring, and whenever there was no decision, I blamed it on my testimony.

Finally, in the afternoon of the fourth day, I learned that my testimony was not boring at all! Rather, I was God’s testimony, and this is uniquely true for every other Christian that has ever lived.

There was a group of ten men drinking beer in front of a store. Since the only woman in my team was the translator, Doug Tankersley, one of our coordinators, asked her whether she would be comfortable with this group. When she agreed, we walked up to them, and after a brief introduction, I gave the briefest conceivably, imaginable version of my boring testimony. One of the men sourly got up and walked away, but the remaining nine men became silent. They looked straight at us, and their eyes were like those of children.

I do not remember that all nine men solemnly repeated the sinner’s prayer. I am gut-certain that there were nine heart-felt confessions of faith in that most unlikely environment.

Afterwards, Cindy Tankersley said that she saw a dove land on an electrical wire above us while we were talking to the men.

I learned It was never really my testimony. We are all the Lord’s testimony. He can use the most humble stories to change hearts in seemingly impossible situations because they are His stories.