From Cali, Colombia: The Other side of the Coin

August 26, 1999
By Luis Bush

"We believe that tonight we launch a new day in Colombia," were the opening remarks. More than 3200 registered participants packed into the "coliseum" where Billy Graham first held his 1962 Cali crusade. For the opening night of this First Congress for the Unity of the Body of Christ in Iberoamerica from 25-28 August 1999, people came from as far away as Australia. Praise God!

Two nights later, the 35,000 seat stadium next door was so packed for the all night prayer event that an overflow crowd had to wait till some people departed in the late night hours to take their seats.

Thunderous applause broke out as an organizer of the event said: "Our young people will not carry drugs but rather the gospel of Jesus from Colombia to the world. "

Dr. Billy Graham made a prophetic statement when he spoke at the same coliseum a generation ago: "When I woke up this morning I saw the three crosses on a hill, and I saw Christ King on another hill. A revival is coming to Cali"

The growth of the number churches in Cali has been astounding from 30 in 1980 to 250 in 1990 to 600 churches in 1999.

Saturday prior to the event, 400 pastors met from all over the city of Cali. It was a precious moment. They asked forgiveness of one another and from the Lord.

The President of the event and of the Association of Evangelical Ministers of the Valley (ASMICEV), Julian Ortiz, talked about the anointing of unity. This is what they wanted to share with God's people from Latin America, Portugal and Spain - thus the vision of this Iberoamerica event on unity.

The united all-night prayer vigils are a further expression of the unity of the body of Christ in Cali. The united prayer vigil is a convocation of all denominations to join together, pray, intercede, praise and give praise and glory to our heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. The first united all-night prayer meeting emerged out of a concert of worship and prayer in 1996, in which the mayor of the city declared "Jesus as Lord of Cali." The spiritual atmosphere over the city changed when God's people did a prayer drive seven times around Cali by car in 1996. That's when the revival started according to Pastor Jarro Hernan Rodriguez, the Secretary of ASMICEV.

They are now planning for a worldwide event in August 22-25, 2001. Sponsored by ASMICEV, with the objectives:

Visiting evangelist Steve Fatow encouraged participants to "Come to see the Lord Jesus take over the city. Come to see the Holy Spirit send an authentic revival to this place. Shout, for the Lord has given you this city." This is the other side of the coin for Cali, Colombia. The spiritual atmosphere stands in stark contrast to everything else going on. Hernando Platz, leader of the messianic congregation in Bogota said: "A very strong spirit of revival has come to Cali because of the unity of the pastors."

"One week prior to the event the authorities said we could not have the event because they could not guarantee the security. The mayor said we must have this event."

  1. On the one hand there are spectacular kidnappings, while on the other so many are recognizing Jesus as the Lord of life and history.
  2. On the one hand promiscuity appears out of control, while on the other there is testimony of the life transforming power of the gospel.
  3. This is a capital of drug trafficking with growing solidarity between the drug lords and rebel leaders, while on the other hand there is a beautiful spirit of unity among the pastors in the city.
  4. Violence stands in contrast to the peace of God that is coming to many Colombians who are embracing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The President of CONELA (the Confraternity of Latin American Evangelicals) and long-time Colombian Christian leader, Hector Pardo, said: "Do not underestimate the difficult socioeconomic situation. The violence is growing. In 1998 there were 35,000 lives lost to violence. At the present rate that will rise to 40,000 in 1999. One-third die of the casualties to violence because of the guerrilla warfare, two-thirds come from other kinds of violence, mostly among young people."

"Colombia has what authorities routinely describe as the highest kidnapping rate anywhere in the world, with an increase of about one-third from 1997. About 3000 are currently being held for ransom. Common criminals deliver the kidnapped to the rebels for a price. It has become a lucrative business. Rebels use ransoms to help finance their 35-year long war against the state. The longest-running guerrilla war in the world has taken over 35,000 lives in the last decade."

"There is a crisis of corruption in the major governmental spheres, including the judicial system, the legislative process, the executive branch and business. The family has become critically destabilized. Out of 100 couples 82 live together without being married."

Cali is the center of the movement of the Holy Sprit in Colombia today."

At the same time, Cali is called the "DOORWAY TO HEAVEN" in many tourist books. The people of Cali are friendly and helpful, and greet travelers with open arms and hearts.

Javier Espinoza, facilitator for Ministry with International Missions out of Costa Rica, has taken teams to Malaysia, the Punjab, Madras, and several African countries. He was responsible to bring much of the internationalization aspects of the event together and said: "Cali is a spiritually fertile city."

The apostle Paul could have been writing about the city of Cali in 1999 when he wrote: "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." (Romans 5:20b, King James Version)

For more information on the global event for the Unity of the Body of Christ, August 22-25, 2001, sponsored by ASMICEV write: Zinnier Quintero asmicev@telesat.com.co.<>

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