A group of 13 of us from Excel went to Medellin, Colombia to serve at La Ciudad de Refugio (The City of Refuge). In one beautiful word, the City of Refuge can be described as restorative. The restoration my team and I got to see living proof of at the City of Refuge deeply encouraged each one of us. The City of Refuge has a mission of “restoring the whole man.” The City of Refuge is much more than a shelter. It is a home; a place of refuge and redemption for all those who seek refuge there.
At the City of Refuge, our team got to help the leaders who run the ministry with various different tasks and areas of the ministry. We got to help with kids ministry, youth nights, clothes donations, food donations, street ministry to the many people who live on the streets, and many other pockets of what goes on at the refuge. Some of the categories of ministry the Refuge contains is children’s feeding and education, restoration and transition within their program, outreach on the streets, a men’s homeless shelter, and income generation in teaching different work skills to have sustainable income for those in the recovery program. The City of Refuge does such an amazing job at serving the community of those living in Medellin, Colombia. It was an honor and a gift to be able to partner with the City of Refuge, to learn so much from their healthy functioning, flourishing ministry, to serve them and their community, and to get to know the hearts and stories of the wonderful people of Medellin who have so greatly tasted the redemption of the Lord. One of the leaders of the ministry explained the deep history of the building founded within the Refuge to our team. There is so much intentionality and orchestration behind the founding and development of the ministry that we could not help but notice the Lord’s hand continuously at work within it all, and His heart for the people of Medellin, Colombia.
The first night we arrived in Colombia, our team got to attend a worship night with students at the college, “Christ For The Nations.” Throughout our trip there were various other opportunities that arose to worship, pray, and commune with Jesus with our brothers and sisters from Columbia. It was a beautiful significance to be able to worship God in Spanish and English with love and adoration for the Father, with our Colombian family. The kingdom of God withholds an expansive, diversely beautiful family. We had the privilege of tasting the beauty of this in Colombia.
I grasped with a greater weight in Colombia, what Jesus means when He says that the darkness has not overcome the light, and the darkness is as light to Him. Going to the streets to invite people to the homeless shelter in hopes of them potentially joining the program for restoration, was one of the darkest things I have experienced. However, Jesus saying that He is the light in the darkness is not just a cute cliche, but a firm truth in which we can boldly live our lives from. Many of the people living at the City of Refuge were at one point in their lives, homeless, addicted to drugs, or living an unfulfilling life in some way. The City of Refuge is a beacon of light to the community of Medellin, no matter how dark it may seem. I talked with one person at the Refuge that told me about how his life has been changed and transformed. The stories of transformed lives are living, walking proof of how God has restored the people at the Refuge through the City of Refuge being a wonderful tool in their restoration.
Our God is such a God of reconciliation, redemption, healing, and transformation, and we get to partake in that and call others to step into the abundant life they have been designed to live as well. I, and many others were deeply encouraged by how those at the City of Refuge call others to step into the abundant life they have been designed to live. I was reminded by several of the leaders there that the minstry functions for and because of the people, and it is not the ministry that is the focus, but rather, the lives and stories of the people that are the sole purpose of the Refuge. What a beautiful testament and well-lived application of the Father’s heart for His children. The City of Refuge lives out the Great Commission from a great understanding of the heart posture they have of their first love of God through the Great Commandment. How beautiful and inspiring!
There is a lot more I could record from our trip to Colombia, but I believe that the vital takeaway is restoration and recovery from a God who is deeply loving to the deepest extent of transforming His children and restoring them in a holistic way. The City of Refuge beautifully paints a tangible picture to all those who come in contact with the ministry of a God who is redeeming and reconciling to Himself, as He is also a God who powerfully resurrects each individual because of His own resurrection. The resurrection and reconciliation of Christ breathes itself within the very lives of each person at the Refuge.
May we live this life resurrected and restored, as the beautiful people of those at the City of Refuge cannot withhold themselves from living out after experiencing such inevitable redemption. Restoration is a serious invitation of the kingdom, and it is exploding within the hearts, stories, and lives of those at the City of Refuge. The God of life-transforming restoration is alive and active. It is undeniable after being at the City of Refuge for only a week, that the God of restoration and transforming any and every life cannot be stopped!
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."
– Psalm 139: 12
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
– John 1: 4-5