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Colombia Program Trains Missionaries

Center for Study of International Development prepares workers in Latin America and beyond.

With its lush mountain rainforests and dense tropical jungles, Latin America abounds with plant and animal life. It’s also fertile ground for the gospel.

The Latin America Caribbean Region of the Assemblies of God accounts for approximately 60 percent of AG churches, ministers, Bible schools, and Bible school students worldwide, according to Dave Woodworth, area director of the Andean Region for Assemblies of God World Missions.

An indigenous approach to missions, which includes a commitment to developing leaders wherever the AG goes, helps explain the remarkable growth in this part of the world.

The Center for Study of International Development (CEDI) in Colombia is a training program that is preparing workers for missions. Established in 2003 as an initiative of the Colombian AG National Missions Department, it graduates an average of eight students per year.

That may not seem like much, but these enthusiastic graduates are rapidly multiplying the harvest throughout Latin America and around the world.

“Of the 96 graduates, 25 are missionaries serving in 10 different countries and among the Amerindian groups in Colombia, six are working with the Colombian AG Missions Agency, 13 are pastors of churches that support missions, and 27 are missions leaders in their churches,” Woodworth says. “So, close to 70 percent are involved in missions.”

Colombian missionaries raise funds by visiting churches throughout the country. Though much of the nation lives below the poverty line, Colombian churches and personal donors provide 100 percent of the missionaries’ support.

“As people hear of the need and commit to praying and supporting missions, many sense the Lord calling them into missionary service,” Woodworth says. “CEDI provides the training for these individuals, along with the theological education they receive through Colombian Bible seminaries.”

The Latin America Caribbean Region includes 19 Spanish-speaking countries with missions departments. Woodworth says 2,103 Latin missionaries are working cross-culturally in their own countries and throughout the world. Annual missions giving in the region is around $5 million. About a quarter of AG churches in Colombia contribute to missions on a monthly basis.

“We are working hard at trying to present the need of the world, and the opportunity for each church to get involved in praying and sending workers to the worldwide harvest,” Woodworth says. “There is much emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, the importance of prayer, and the need to evangelize the lost. When believers are aware of the spiritual need in the world and their personal responsibility, many respond to the call to go.”

Six AG missionaries staff the training center, including founders Woodworth and his wife, Margot, and directors Ryan and Caitlyn Jordan.

“I am excited about God calling more Colombians to work with unreached people groups,” Ryan Jordan says. “I am also excited that more churches are realizing that Colombian missionaries can be a part of God’s mission to reach the ends of the earth.”

In September, CEDI will become an official site for the Institute of Islamic Studies, a comprehensive AG World Missions program that prepares individuals for ministry to Muslims.

“As we dedicate much time and prayer to missionary formation, our goal is to produce learners and servants who are willing to go to the hard places and share the gospel,” Woodworth says. “We must take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to extend His kingdom and plant churches wherever God is leading.”

Christina Quick

Christina Quick is a former Pentecostal Evangel staff writer who attends James River Church (Assemblies of God) in Ozark, Missouri.