In November of last year, two massive hurricanes pounded through Central and parts of South America. 124 miles off of the coast of Nicaragua, lies a Colombian island called San Andres. In Colombia we waited for news from friends on the island to see if they were alright after each storm. The response was expected…widespread damage, flooding, missing roofs and more. Our pastor here in Colombia called us and said, “let’s go help!”. With a typical gringa emotional response, five days to plan a missions/hurricane relief trip did not seem like enough time. However, we started organizing and asking for donations from the States, and God moved way beyond our expectations.
In November we went for a week with a team of eleven people, and then returned in February with a team of 16 people. God told us to go, and we went, never imagining the magnitude of the need. I could spend days sharing testimonies of God’s power, but I want to focus on a couple stories.
A week after the second hurricane hit, we went to a church to see the damage of their roof. While assessing the damage, it was clear that we did not have the time or resources to fix the collapsing, cement roof. The pastor shared how they were renting the church building, but beside the church they had just purchased a small piece of land. We walked outside to see a small portion of land with two cement walls. God’s hand of blessing made it possible that within 5 short days the rubble was cleared from that land, a roof was built, and what was a desperate situation was changed to a hopeful situation. We watched as the neighborhood chipped in to help. Children without shoes helped to clear debris, while men who had been against the church helped to build the roof, and single mothers made food and provided drinks to the workers.
In February, while entering a vulnerable neighborhood, we were stopped twice by the police warning us that this particular neighborhood was very dangerous. My husband and I, our two children, and the team of 12 others kept walking toward what we were told was “dangerous”. When we arrived with our escort (the local pastor), we encountered hundreds of dirty, yet smiling children. For hours we played side by side with these children. The little girls fought over our blue-eye, blonde-haired daughter, all wanting an opportunity to play with a North American. “Why are you here?”, they would ask us, as tourists in San Andres spend their time at the beach and not in dangerous neighborhoods. “We came to spend time with you!”, we would say. With plates of food, we asked the children to take us to their homes. We were invited to the home of an elderly lady who complained of severe pain and burning in her back and legs. We prayed for healing and watched her face go from despair to peace. My son said, “Mom, did you see her face? She really was healed!”.
During those two different weeks we spent on the island, we were able to feed thousands of people, fix up six roofs and build one roof from scratch. We watched God heal many, and various people gave their lives to Christ. We look to God with thankful hearts, and give Him the glory for pouring His grace over the trips we have taken to the island. Sometimes as missionaries God throws things in our laps that are unexpected. Openness and trust is what He is asking from us. We go where the needs are, and gratefully grow each time we step out in faith.
By: Amanda Vining
To learn more about the Vining Family and their ministry, click here.