After Graduation – What’s Next?
The Open Doors’ Children Center in Colombia celebrated a graduation for eleven students in 2013. Hearing their plans for the future fills our hearts with gratitude. But as we consider the fact that they will be leaving the shelter of the home… and entering into a hostile world; we are driven to pray fervently for them. Join with us in hearing their stories, noting that for their protection, we have changed their names.
Fabio’s mother is Ana, an indigenous woman from the Nasa community in Cauca, Colombia. She leads an indigenous Christian organization dedicated to creating Christian schools where the children are not forced to learn witchcraft practices. Because of her work, she was denied her salary as a teacher. Persecution threats against her and her family prompted her to bring her children to Open Doors’ Children’s Center in 2012. Upon completion of his studies last year, Fabio said that his biggest wish is to return to his mother and share the gospel with indigenous people in his community. He also desires to teach them all of the things the Lord has taught him. “My purpose is to open their eyes so they might see the almighty God, because they need it,” he says. The gospel opposes their deeply entrenched traditions and cultural manifestations, and it is forbidden to preach the gospel in their region.
Carlos, another graduate, faces a similar situation. His father is serving a 20-year jail sentence for reasons related to his faith in Jesus. For Carlos, the completion of his studies is also the beginning of the challenge to share what he has learned at the Children’s Center with his family and his community. One of his specific goals is to open a business designing computer systems. He knows he must now work to support his family because of his father’s imprisonment. During the time Carlos spent at the Children’s Center, he joined his classmates in practicing evangelism in the community. He describes this as being a life-changing experience. He also values the opportunity he had to build friendships with students from other indigenous communities and regions in Colombia who share in the difficulties of his situation.
Roberto aspires to become a politician who leads his community with biblical principles. Roberto came to the Children’s Center when guerrillas began to threaten his father, a missionary. At the Children’s Center, he was part of the Worship Ministry. He describes his time there as great because God worked a major and powerful transformation in his life; he left alcohol and parties, and became a worshiper. “After 6 years in the Children’s Center, I understand that God created me with a purpose. Now I know that everything I do will be for His glory,” he said.
Three of the girls, Francy, Mary and Esther, came to the Children’s Center for family-related circumstances. Francy’s life was in danger because she was at risk of being recruited by the guerrillas. Mary’s father was being persecuted by supporters of the guerrilla fighters. Esther’s father was murdered by members of illegal armed groups. They experienced a process of growth during their time in the Children’s Center and were especially strengthened in their relationship with the Father, discovering their value as women, accepted and loved by the Lord. Mary wants to become a missionary and study psychology in Europe, while Esther dreams to become a civil engineer, and Francy wishes to become a leader and youth pastor as well as to study graphic design and fashion.
For each of these students, this life transition brings new challenges. They are returning to a world that is hostile toward Christians. Some of them worry that they will not have enough money to complete their university studies. They fear their dreams will never be accomplished. Some of them feel they are leaving the nest and beginning a new way of life. All of them want to walk in the steps of the people who went before them, who taught them to follow Jesus. They want to be people with values who contribute to their societies and leave a path for others to follow.
Father, we are filled with such gratitude for the Children’s Center and for the testimonies of these young lives so full of love for You and a desire to serve You in their home regions. But we see their obstacles as well and come to You knowing You are a God who hears and answers. You lead Your church to accomplish Your purposes and so we pray in confidence. Continue guiding these young men and women, Father, that they might impact their communities and regions to turn to You. We pray for them as they return to their families in new roles, as leaders and breadwinners. We pray for them and their families as they seek ways to attend university. Protect them, Father, as they speak of Your gospel in the midst of hostility. The obstacles are great, but You are greater, working in ways beyond our understanding. And so we pray these things in the name of Jesus who leads His church in infinite power and authority. Amen.