La Cueva: A Beacon of Hope

A Light in the Darkness

The group lets out a whoop of praise and the soft-spoken girl in the corner blushes crimson with unmistakable delight. She repeats her announcement that prompted the praise, making sure the right person gets the credit: “Gracias a Dios—thanks to God, I found a job.” Congratulatory hugs and songs of worship follow—a celebration of God’s provision for Cristal, a sister in Christ.

Cristal is one of the countless twenty-somethings growing up in Colombia without parents. Abandoned as a child and having spent the majority of her adolescent years in the Colombian child welfare system, Cristal now navigates the murky waters of adulthood—except she doesn’t do it alone.

Amidst the dark landscape of cyclical abandonment and the resulting orphan crisis shines a beacon of hope in a house called La Cueva.

Those accepted into the house gain immediate access to a support network that normally would not be available to them: job opportunities, university loans, affordable rent, spiritual mentors and most importantly, a faith community. The latter is what makes this program so special.

Every Tuesday evening, upwards of 20 people arrive at La Cueva and pull together a hodgepodge of chairs and couches before settling in to a night of worship, prayer, Bible study, and of course, Colombian empanadas.

During this particular gathering, Cristal shares her news of having found a job. The announcement bears so much weight because her group of friends knows where Cristal has been.

Cristal’s Story

Cristal came to La Cueva when she had nowhere else to turn. She spent almost two years battling a life-threatening brain tumor without help or support from relatives. Though doctors feared she wouldn’t survive, Cristal overcame the odds. While searching for employment, Cristal faced rejection and disappointment because of a physical disability resulting from her illness. Yet God provided—not only a job but a community to celebrate it with.

Cristal’s faith community is just one in a larger movement of house churches called Ciudad Corazón(“Heart City”) spreading throughout the greater Bogotá area. The Ciudad Corazón movement, under the leadership of Jorge Enciso, seeks to see the city, country, and continent transformed by the power of the gospel. While the movement comprises small groups of believers and nonbelievers alike who meet in the context of a living room, the impact goes beyond the four walls of a residence. That’s where programs like La Cueva come into play.

Hope for the Future

La Cueva is just one facet of Fundación Comunidad Viva—a Christian community development foundation (founded by Enciso) that works to empower the local church to be an agent of change in broken neighborhoods through opening community centers and initiating tutoring programs, Bible clubs, sustainable agriculture projects, and Vacation Bible Schools. The house church movement and foundation work together to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the communities across the city.

The momentum of Ciudad Corazón and La Cueva shows no sign of slowing down. The house churches continue to multiply and every month come together from all over the city to celebrate the work God is doing. And there is much to celebrate. Cristal’s story is one of many that gives testimony to lives being shaped and transformed by the gospel manifested through the local church.

This article was originally published through South American Mission, and a part of the FrontPage magazine.

Written by Dan Harder

Dan Harder is the missions pastor at Green Hills Church. For years, Dan and his wife, Alice, served as missionaries in Bogota, Colombia, before returning to the States to serve on a church staff in the Chicago area. Since they retired, they moved to Nashville to be near family. Dan is passionate about sharing the love of Christ with a hurting world.