An update by Ashley Guinn from Colombia 

This is a blog that my teammate Juliana and I wrote together after a divine appointment with a man whose kids attend the foundation we are partnered with this month. 

For our last month of ministry we are up in the mountainside just outside of Bogotá working for a ministry called FormaVida. This organization works with children after school to provide homework help, enrichment activities, Bible lessons and most importantly a warm healthy meal. All of the kids come from at-risk families who typically have low income, drug/alcohol issues, abuse, or have had one or both adult guardians pass away. 

These stories have been breaking our hearts.

Before this month began, I prayed asking for God to break my heart for the things that break His. He answered. My heart is breaking for the kids involved in the program and for their parents who are hurting and struggling to provide for them. Although it hurts, day in and day out, I almost feel honored that God has allowed me to get a glimpse of the deep way He loves His people. 

One family in particular has dramatically changed our lives for the better. We were able to sit down and talk with Pompilio, a Venezuelan refugee who is now working and living in Colombia with his four children. His heartbreaking story of perseverance, when everything was stripped away from him, is a testament to how God still moves in the darkest of places. He allowed us into his life, into his children’s lives and although we come from two different worlds, we share the same heart for the Lord which allowed us to sit across the table from each other crying and rejoicing in the things yet to come. 

Pompilio has given us permission to share his story. Our hope for you is that you hold it with the same gentleness and honor that we felt when hearing it. Although our hearts broke and yours may too, it’s a story worth hearing because it real. Sometimes stories don’t have a happy ending with a nice ribbon on top. But sometimes that’s just the kind of story you need to hear. It’s a story that lets you know that yes, this world is hard, and bad things happen to good people, but it’s a story that shares the good news that you truly aren’t alone

The story of Pompilio and his family began two years ago in Venezuela. Rising tensions in the government and insurmountable cost for healthcare for his sick wife drove him to start the process of leaving the country. His wife had been battling cancer for some time and they could no longer afford to get her the care she desperately needed in Venezuela. He began gathering travel and work documents to leave the country as a refugee into Colombia with his family. He originally desired to travel to America, but obtaining a work visa was an extremely difficult process and getting passports for his four children was even harder. Colombia was the closest and least difficult option; he easily obtained the documentation that he needed.  

In December of 2017, he and his family finally arrived in Bogotá. They left everything they previously knew behind: their family, community, everything that was normal and that felt like home to them. Pompilio was taking desperate action to care for his wife and provide for his children in the only way he knew how given his unfortunate circumstances. 

Pompilio quickly found work in construction where he spent every moment outside of being with his family to adequately provide for their needs. Although his wife was receiving better medical care in Colombia, her condition worsened and after a hard fight, she lost her battle with cancer. 

This tragic loss hit Pompilio and his family hard. He now faces even harder obstacles trying to raise four young children on his own in a country where he is considered an alien, with no community and depleted financial resources. It was soon after the passing of his wife that our ministry host, Lucy found him. She provided the respite care that his family needed. Lucy enrolled his kids in her foundation, FormaVida, began providing financially for their education and makes sure they have warm meals every day- Pompilio included. She has become the friend and the family that they need in every sense of those words. She has not only housed them, fed them, and provided Pompilio and his children with community, but she even tenderly cares for them as they endure the grieving process of losing their wife and mother. 

This month we are working with the children in the foundation, including Pompilio’s children. We teach lessons at the local school in the mornings- things like respecting adults, how to be a good citizen, and self-esteem. In the afternoons, we get to teach English to the kids enrolled in the foundation. The first few days were really challenging because the kids are tough. They didn’t want to open up, they were angry at us, they didn’t trust us, and with good reason. They are children who experience drug and alcohol abuse from their parents. They are abused by the adults in their lives, they are neglected, and they know just a little too much about life. 

We quickly realized that under the tough exteriors of all the children, they are scared and wounded. They need adults to be consistent and to let them be kids. They need adults to let them vent and scream and feel what they are feeling. They need adults to understand what’s going on inside of them, even when they don’t. They need adults to be adults so they can be children. In the very wise words of L.R. Knost “when little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”

Sometimes you just have to sit with a 9-year-old boy and let him tear grass out of the ground. He has anger and sadness that he doesn’t know how to deal with. Sometimes you just have to be okay with letting him throw the grass at you, even if you’re allergic, even if you just showered- because he needs to know that what he is feeling isn’t too big or scary for you to handle. Sometimes you just have to be the force of calm as he’s freaking out about his world. 

This 9-year-old boy is Pompilio’s middle son. As a small child, he has no idea how to deal with grief and the huge things he’s feeling. He doesn’t know how to deal with the loss of his mom, his stability in his life, and his country. He’s an outsider in a new place and he feels alone. Sometimes a little boy just needs to know that his dad’s love for him overflows so much that he can’t help but share about his kids to others. He needs to know that his dad’s love overpowers his own grief. Sometimes he just needs an adult to listen and actually hear what he’s saying even when he doesn’t say it in words…maybe for the first time in months. 

At the end of the day, we have realized that our only job is to love and embrace these kids and let them be whomever and feel whatever. They need our love, and they need Jesus’ love. And that is something we can tangibly give them. 


Momma, Dad, Sue, LB, Aussie, and Skouty- soon and very soon! Get the sunscreen and flip-flops ready! Summer’s a comin! LOVE YOU SO BIGGGG!