Report From The Tower
We will soon be departing for a 43 day trip to Medellin, Colombia, which I last wrote to you about on April 28, 2004. We will be leaving on June 28.
Since that time, a net increase of 50 new members has been added to Watchmen Prophets Assembly. Tens of thousands of new viewers have looked on my internet website at www.usaprophet.com. Most of the newcomers have been drawn by concern and, in some cases, panic, over godless predictions by others on the internet regarding asteroid impacts. Nevertheless, the gospel of Jesus Christ is published on my website. We lift up the name of Jesus at Watchmen Prophets Assembly. Many have been presented with choices between life and death that every person must make. There is no other way to life.
Sometimes, people ask me how I can plan mission trips, when there is all of this concern over asteroids impacting in late June, as the godless predictors have said.
My answer is that God has told me to go. He has not told me to stay, cowering in my house in fear. I am to go as a missionary apostle to a land that desperately needs healing and deliverance from almighty God.
My budget for this upcoming trip, including my fixed, domestic expenses, is $5,000. Currently, I have $100 of that in hand. As I did last year, I am embarking on this voyage by faith. I WILL WALK BY FAITH, EVEN WHEN I CANNOT SEE. Last year, I was able to place almost $4,000 of the $5,000 you sent into the hands of the poor. We do not take salary, and we do not stay in hotels, or spend money in ways that is in any way extravagant. We eat in private homes, and eat the customary foods of the paisa (people).
It was just the same last year, in terms of finances. I had no idea how my personal expenses were going to be paid. I had only the word of the Lord, telling me to GO! God paid for everything last year, and I believe He will do the same this year as we are faithful to go to all whom He sends us to.
Perhaps many of you have never been to a “third world” country. The experience is an “eye-opener”. As a lifelong resident of the United States, we take certain things for granted. I feel today that God wants me to describe what I witnessed in Medellin, Colombia, last year.
THE NEEDS AND THE WORK
We rarely thank God for public schools, for example, here in the United States. We consider it our American, divine right that our children should be able to go to public school, and that all books will be provided for. We would never even think that we might have to pay for it, other than through our property taxes.
All throughout Colombia, residents must pay 100,000 pesos per semester for each of their children to attend public schools. That is, by American standards, the modest sum of $35. I encountered many young children who are not in school because they cannot pay this tuition. Other youngsters do not have the 20,000 pesos it costs for pencils, paper and other basic school supplies. Every one of these, whom I meet, I simply cannot pray for, and say, be blessed and filled. NO! I must help the ones whom I come into contact with. This is just too much for my heart to bear. I must help these children who need tuition, books and pencils. Thanks be to God, and to those of you who helped with this last year.
As I walk the streets of Medellin, and travel by taxi to other areas, I see many sights, and talk with many people. I am immediately recognized as an American, even though I might not say a word. Certainly, I am recognized as American if I speak any Spanish: my accent gives me away, yet I feel that I must go to the streets. Please pray for me that I am not recognized by evil men.
Last year, we worked, witnessing and praying in a particular city square. In this one particular place, I met families and partial families. The needs were acute. Some were hungry, and were appreciative that we were willing to buy them bread, and juice. We do not give money to such as these, but we accompany them to the panaderia (bakery). During these visits, we are able to break bread with them, and talk with them about the Lord.
We distributed many, many bibles. We hired a youth to distribute thousands of gospel tracts in the city square where we worked. This was an inspiration from the Lord, as this local youth was known by many, and he even added his own, personal witnessing flair to the operation.
We were adopted by a wonderful congregation last year. Money you sent allowed us to make that church a storehouse of food and bibles. We would have liked to have done more, but what we did, was very good.
There are other needs there, that I described last year. I will repeat them for the newcomers. Americans consider electricity and water in their homes as an automatic. Not so in Medellin. Many have had their service disconnected, and they have huge utility bills to repay. We did not consider it a wise use of our resources to attempt to fully remedy this situation, as the average outstanding utility bill for those we met amounted to about $300 US. Instead, we opted to purchase small, two burner gas stoves, and propane tanks for these people, at a cost of $80 US. This restored their ability to cook meals inside their homes. You provided this help to many people there in Medellin.
There are, of course, the things I saw that rip the heart out. We were visited weekly by a mother of four, who lived, at that time, in little more than a cardboard box. To another extreme, there were two young Christian boys, age 8, who were sent across town; 12 miles, in search of school supplies. The one boy needed shoes. I went with him to the shoe store and remedied that situation with your assistance.
There were, of course, many scammers, beggars and thieves. Many wanted money to purchase drugs and alcohol. We have to stay prayed up all the time. We need constantly to discern the motives of men’s hearts while we are there. Please pray for us that we will help those who need help, and recognize those who do not.
Finally, there is one situation there, that I have not previously discussed.
The prison in the province of Antioquia is huge, and I ministered there one day last year. Prison Fellowship has constructed a huge church, that operates seven days a week, inside the walls of that prison. I plan to minister there many days this year.
The custom of prison life there is quite different from here in America. Here, three square meals are served at public cost. There, a crude soup/slop is served for free, and no clothing is provided. There are a few restaurants inside the prison, and the families of the inmates send money in so that these inmates can eat the upgraded food.
The thing that really tugged on my heart was the case of one of the dedicated trustees who worked seven days a week in the Church. This young man, about 25 years of age, is in prison on a life sentence. While inside, he accepted the Lord Jesus, and is now regarded as one of the strongest prison ministers there. The presence of God was extremely strong around this young man. We held each other and prayed together. We were both weeping at the end. Yet, this young man has no family on the outside. He prays for outsiders, like me, to bring him a financial re-supply, so that he can buy better meals, and some clothes. He did not tell me about his acute need until I felt led to give him an offering.
I gave him a modest sum when I was there last year, and I will do the same this year, even if it is with my own money. He told me that prior to my arrival, God had assured him that He had sent him some funds, and they would arrive shortly. This story has a profound effect on me as I tell it now. If this young man is still alive, I will see him, Lord willing, on this next trip, and I will be a God sent source of re-supply to him once again.
I want to ask all of you to consider partnering with me in this ministry to Medellin, and to greater Antioquia province of Colombia. I know that God will richly reward you. I assure you that I will honorably represent you there, in the name of Jesus Christ.
I will be giving a report on the mission at our October meeting of Watchmen Prophets Assembly at Monteagle, TN.
Registration forms are available at: Meeting WPA Apostolic Prophetic Company, at Monteagle, TN-October 22-24, 2004---
Stephen L. Bening
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