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September 1982 Newsletter
COLOMBIAN CHRISTIAN MISSION
Dale and Jeanie Meade
In the jungle and prairie of Southeastern Colombia
Volume 10, Issue 9 September, 1982
The little blue jeep purchased by the Meade for family use and for calling is parked in front of the church in Villavicencio.
STREET CORNER REVIVAL
There has been a revival meeting going on in Colombia. It has been going on for a full month now. It shows no sign of letting up either. This revival meeting is different in several other ways too. It is neither directed at, nor made up primarily of church people. It is not being held in the church building. It has been making quite an impression on the town in which we live. One reason for its wide range of influence is that it is held on a different street corner every night of the week.
When we first arrived back in Colombia, the church here in town was having problems. A couple of elders had launched a business adventure that had taken much of their time. Since we have not had a paid preacher his involvement in business activity left the church with no leadership. As a result it was drifting aimlessly onward and downward. And as always there were unscrupulous Pentecostal wolves eagerly taking advantage of the situation. Upon our arrival we soon began to have renewed organizational and planning meetings. First of all we organized the church services so that there was always someone to direct, preach, etc. We organized a calling campaign to encourage the backsliders. Then we began to have Bible studies in homes of the believers to teach not-so-new believers the basic New Testament doctrines. It was from these that the not-so-normal revival meetings got their first start.
At the house of one church member, we forgot to tell him that it was for his family. So he went around inviting all of his neighbors. When the night arrived, so many people had expressed interest that there was not nearly enough room in his small house for the people. The logical conclusion was to simply move to the street in front of his house. The crowd attracted the attention of others. Soon the street was filled with onlookers. The Colombian preacher was quick to see the opportunity and switch the message to an evangelistic one. Things worked out so well that we soon adopted the same format at all of the other meetings. We began organizing the singing groups from the church to sing and thus attract even more people. Within two weeks of getting started, we had five such meeting going on in five different locations around town.
In this society lighting decisions are extremely rare. Yet in spite of this, results were soon quick in appearing. The first and most noticeable was in our own church members. They began to feel renewed enthusiasm. The bickering and complaining rapidly decreased. It seems that a people who are working together for a common goal do not have time to fight with each other. Bench warmers became workers as there was soon a job for everyone. As a result, attendance also increased. Even our Thursday night Bible study, which had been about as well attended as most are in the States, soon had numbers that matched every other church service. Services that had been attended by only a couple of dozen people soon were averaging over one hundred adults present. But the only results were not just in the church and its members. New people began to show up. There was one service not too long ago that had a majority of new people. The street meetings themselves were soon one of the biggest events in the neighborhoods that they were being held in. The total weekly attendance was ranging between five and twelve hundred people. Even we have been stunned by the success. After more than five weeks of the full scale program, the only signs of change indicate a continual increase in activity and attendance.
One major problem in Latin America is education. It has proved to be a problem for us and the teaching of our kids. It is also a problem for nearly everyone down here, the Colombians included. Our efforts in this area have been two fold. Both Jeanie and I have become teachers in an effort to meet the needs. For both of us it has proved to be both rewarding and time consuming. For the moment, both of us are on a break. So this makes a good time to tell you about this aspect of our work.
OUR OWN LITTLE ONE ROOM SCHOOL HOUSE
Jeanie's first experience at teaching school came before our last furlough. Wendy was ready for kindergarten. We bought a correspondence course from a place called Calvert School. Jeanie began teaching in order to prepare Wendy for her first year of public school in the United States. That was a light load but it did serve as an ample introduction to what the future held for her. Wendy did quite well and had no trouble fitting in with the first grade class the next year in the States.
After that furlough our own little one room school house was soon in full swing. While in the States we had checked out several correspondence schools. We were quite impressed with the high standards of the Pensacola Christian School. We appreciated their Christian outlook. We secured a kindergarten course for Susy and a second grade course for Wendy. We returned to Colombia with over a hundred pounds of books in our suitcases and trunks. Within weeks of returning, Jeanie had confiscated one of the 3 small bedrooms in our house here for a schoolroom. Before long the walls were decorated with the ABC's, color charts, numbers, and even a picture of President Reagan. School started at 8 a.m. on Monday morning. Wendy and Susy were at their school desks. At first they giggled with excitement, much as do any children the first day of school. The entire morning was filled with doing arithmetic, reading, writing, and phonics. About noon Jeanie would leave them doing homework and she would head downstairs to do her "homework." Her afternoon would be filled with cooking, doing the housework, and working with the church.
The days became weeks and the weeks in turn evolved into months. Each grading period would require that a raft of papers be sent to the correspondence course school in Florida. They would look over the papers and send back a report card. Sometimes they would have comments on the way the kids were progressing. As time wore on, the kids' enthusiasm began to wear thin. Soon they were looking forward to the weekends. They soon found out that mommy was a very exacting teacher and they could not get away with anything that would not be permitted in a regular school classroom. Jeanie at times became frustrated because of the huge workload. At most times she was doing the equivalent of three full time jobs. Preparing lessons and teaching two full grades in school required a great deal of time. Then on top of that she kept the house, cooked, and received many visitors that stay with us here in Villavicencio. Washing clothes and caring for three small active children, we have not yard in which to play, is no small job down here. On top of that, she is in charge of our ladies group at church besides teaching a Sunday School class.
Yesterday they finished. The school year is over. Now Jeanie and the kids can look forward to a full three month off. Nine months have gone by so rapidly. Jeanie is looking for to having only two full time jobs for a while. At times it has been very difficult. Yet Jeanie has always done an excellent job at everything that she has tackled. A recent visitor was amazed at everything that my wife accomplished in a day. "You know," he commented, "You have the perfect wife. Not many women would put up with everything that Jeanie does." And you know I have to agree with him. Many missionaries fail and return home because their wives can't take it. God has blessed me with a truly amazing helpmate.