From Arranging Chairs to Assisting Christian Workers: 4D Ministries and GTPJanuary 11, 2023
Latin America February 2023 Field ReportFebruary 17, 2023
Serving indigenous communities and displaced peoples
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
In the seventeenth episode of Inspiring Stewards, Nathan Jones speaks with Esther Zuluaga Gimenez from Colombia. She shares how God has placed in her heart a love for ethnic groups, which led her to serving different indigenous communities and the unreached Pashtun people of Afghanistan. She recounts how GTP’s webinars, trainings, and the Palmful of Maize video have strengthened and empowered her service. She concludes by reminding us that God is the one who brings about change in all aspects of our lives and that our role is to commit ourselves to prayer, the most powerful weapon God has given us.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or feedback. To do so, email us at email@example.com.
The music is Concerto a’ 4 Violini No 2 by Telemann played on classical guitar by Jon Sayles. Published by Exzel Music Publishing.
Thanks again for joining us this month. It’s always a joy to be with you. On our episode today, we will cross back over the Pacific Ocean to Colombia, where we will spend time with the director of RAP Colombia, Esther Zuluaga. RAP has a focus on ministering to the Colombian ethnic group known as the Pashtuns. Esther has a deep love for the Lord and a strong commitment to His Kingdom work.
Again, I’m your host, Nathan Jones, and I want to thank you for joining me on this episode 17 of the Inspiring Stewards podcast.
Esther, it’s great to be with you. Thank you for taking time to join for this podcast. So, let’s jump into our first question. Tell us a bit of your life story, where you’re from, your family of origin, and just give us a glimpse into your life growing up.
ESTHER ZULUAGA GIMENEZ
Hi Nathan! Thank you so much for the opportunity for this wonderful podcast. My name is Esther Zuluaga Gimenez. I am from Colombia. I married for 35 years ago. My husband is Herman Gimenez and he is a professional photographer. We have three adult children and a beautiful granddaughter. We have a family business of photography and video.
I am the oldest of my three siblings and I come from a home with a lot of discipline. Since my father who was a military man, he participated in the Korean war, and I always listen to his fascinating stories of those countries on the other side of the world.
Esther, share with us how you came to a personal faith in Christ and how that decision then impacted your life.
Thirty years ago, I met the Lord Jesus Christ. And my mother was the one who invited me to the Christian church called Fraternidad in Bogotá, where I have served for more than 25 years in different ministries, as in the ladies’ committee serving an average of 300 women, teaching the Bible in Sunday classes for adults in missions on projects for the unreached ethnic groups.
My profession is a business administrator. And I wanted to prepare myself more in knowing God. So, I studied theology, diploma in missions, and I graduated as a chaplain with emphasis in human rights.
I have had the opportunity to serve, taking the gospel in short term, all things to different indigenous communities in my country such as the Kogui, Wiwa, Wayuú who are in the north part of Colombia. And with the Tikuna indigenous community located in the Amazon of Colombia, also in the midst of the persecution church through the ministry, Open Doors.
This is how God places a great love in my heart for the unreached ethnic groups. And I participate in different prayer ministries at the international level.
That’s wonderful Esther! A good background. Let’s jump ahead now to the year… it’s 2023 actually. How does the Lord have you involved in His work today?
Two years ago, in the pandemic time, where the whole world was locked in their homes, but the global church opened its doors through technology and digital project platforms, Zoom, I heard for the first time the information of the unreached Pashtun ethnic group located in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with more than 65 million people who have never heard of Jesus. This impacted my heart and I started to investigate more about them.
That's how I know the RAP ministry – Pashtun Adoption Network. And the Lord made a very, very strong call to my life to serve full-time for his work. In obedience to the Lord, I answered, “Here I am,” and I accepted to be the director of RAP Colombia to mobilize and make this ethnic group known in my country and to pray for them.
I remember that in prayer I said to the Lord, “If this love that I feel for the Pashtun comes from you, God, allow me to meet a Pashtun face-to-face and not only by photo.” Fifteen days later, my daughter, who lives in Philadelphia, United States, she calls me and tells me that she has bought my tickets to go and attend the birth of her daughter, our first granddaughter.
Philadelphia is near to Atlanta. And I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, where there is a large Pashtun refugee diaspora in that city. That is how, for the first time, I see 25 Pashtun women learning English. And I had the opportunity to take care of their children. At that moment, I saw the answer to my prayers. And it was when I told God that the rest of my life will be serving him completely.
My fundraising process and learning begins. And I meet a wonderful GTP ministry and his director, Gary Hoag. I started reading his newsletter every 15 days. And something that caught my attention were his book, especially his covers with beautiful image of Van Gogh paintings, because his covers were paintings that I have painted in oil, one of my favorite hobbies. My oil paintings are with the technique of impressionism.
This is how I get involved as volunteer with GTP and participate monthly in the Global Prayer Hour, in the teaching of faithful stewards through the webinar. In November last year, I received the training on the Generosity Stations and Empowerment Journey. This happened in Panama City with more than 37 people from 14 counties in Latin America. It was a wonderful time.
What a beautiful story, Esther! And I loved your connection to the Van Gogh paintings. I become familiar with [them] through the books. Just beautiful.
Well, this is the Inspiring Stewards podcast. How does the concept of stewardship influence your life today, Esther?
It has been an excellent learning experience to learn about the concept of stewardship and the “with you” culture through GTP. Generosity and stewardship go hand in hand: managing resource with transparency in the favor of God, being God’s stewards, recognizing that God is the owner of the gold and the silver.
God has given us gifts and talents, physically, spiritually, and financially so that we can prosper, multiply, and be accountable to have a life of prayer with the help of Holy Spirit, a life of holiness.
I have been able to experience this in two last years the generosity of God. I have learned to change my mentality of scarcity, something that we suffer in the counties of Latin America. Colombia is very rich in every way. But sadly, we have problems of corruption, dependency, and God wants to change those paradigms by being good stewards and spreading the seeds of the gospel.
When I was in Panama in the GTP Generosity Station program, I was able to see the video of Palmful of Maize in Malawi. It impacted me when a whole town obeys the principle of generosity.
Things change for the better. When I returned to Colombia, I had a party at my house with my friends and I shared the video of Palmful of Maize. And the following week, I was also able to share it with more than 35 missionaries from different cities in Colombia. And they were very impacted.
In the future, with God’s help, we will be good to have a video: Handful of Coffee, the most important product of Colombia. Give to God what you have, and He will multiply it like the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes as the Bible says in Matthew chapter 14. Generosity is an attitude of heart transformation.
What a beautiful picture. So, Esther, you’ve had a chance to see God work across Colombia. How do you describe how God is working now at this time in history in the world around us either locally or even across the globe?
The time of pandemic was a revolution for the church. I learned that the church is not a brick structure. As I said before, it was the time where we were locked up in our homes. But at the same time, it was the opening of the global church to see the most urgent needs of the church on the other side of the world: the pain of persecution church, the reality of countries that live in complete darkness for the oppressed people groups.
God has been preparing the church. And I speak as a Latina. God is preparing his people for thousands of missionaries to go to the other side of the world to be salt and light in the world that has never heard of Jesus, as in the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, for the thousands of refugees and displaced people today.
Humanly, we see a world in chaos. But God is in control and He’s allowing all this situation so that as a church, we wake up and give ourselves more to prayer, the powerful weapon that God has given us.
Prayer reaches the darkest places on the earth, the most closed region where our brothers suffer persecution for believing in Jesus. God wants us as a church to raise our voice for those who have no voice, as Proverbs 31:8-9 says. And as a church in Latin America, let us be a missionary force to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Amen. Esther, as we're finishing up, any final comments you would leave us with today?
My final comment is a voice of hope from the only one who can change our life, our home, our country, and our world.
The Bible says: John 4:13-14, “‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again,’ Jesus answered, ‘but whoever who drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again. It will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”
That's wonderful. May it be so. Esther, thank you again for your time. This has been tremendous.
Thank you. Thank you very much.