Colombia (MNN) — Colombia is often associated with drugs, cartels and violence. Cartel violence and guerilla warfare continue on a daily basis.
But Rody Rodeheaver with I.N. Network says the consequences run much further than disorder. "Underneath all of that is the hurt, the devastation that's really not talked about; and that's to women and children. As these terrible, evil things go on in these countries — the killing, the drug trafficking — all of those things take its toll and impact the most vulnerable."
Although it may not be visible in the news, in Colombia, women and children have had to flee from homes and into desperate lives of poverty in order to escape the horrors of cartel life. Most run to cities of refuge.
In one such city, there is a slum ironically named "Playa." Rodeheaver says despite its inviting name (which means "beach" in Spanish), the slum is far from paradise.
"It is just a muddy, awful slum," notes Rodeheaver. "It's filled with women and children who have run for their lives with just the clothes on their back because a husband's been killed, because the family's been threatened, because the husband has to leave or he will have to join the drug cartels. In the midst of this is devastation."
Women are forced into prostitution and drugs in order keep their families alive. Most are raising their children alone.
It is in this dark, dreary atmosphere that I.N. Network has chosen to stake its claim in Christ. Partnering with a former attorney who saw the devastation in Playa and felt compelled to act, I.N. Network has been able to create a school that grew from once-weekly meetings, to a 500-student, fully functioning institution.
"The long lasting results of this are the children who graduate and are able to break out of the slum, and find the ability to get jobs, to be productive, and to not be trapped in the cycle of poverty," says Rodeheaver.
Beyond the school, the ministry offers vocational training for women so that mothers are able to acquire the skills necessary to support their families.
Relationships with Christ are being birthed in the lives of the children, mothers, and entire families.
I.N. Network is able to do this work through their child sponsorship program mainly, which helps provide meals for kids and pay for teachers. The ministry has other needs, however, such as purchasing sewing machines, expanding the school, and repairing a fence with a large hole which recently allowed entry for a thief. These needs can be catered to with individual donations.
I.N. Network is reaching with the compassion of Jesus to those the world has overlooked. If you would like to be a part of this exciting work in Colombia, click here.