Pipe and Abi Figueroa served in Colombia until 2021, before moving to London where Pipe now serves as a youth worker in a local church.

 

Where did Jesus chill out? Where did he have his downtime? He loved hanging out with Mary, Martha
and Lazarus’ family. Why? What did he find there that meant that he could switch off from his “mission”
here on earth?

 

“They had something that made Jesus stay.”

 

There is something magical, joyful, wondrous, about the welcome they gave Jesus. Maybe he felt a sense of home there. A sense of belonging. A sense of encouragement. This was certainly inspirational for us as we received Steppers and Striders in Colombia, often fresh out of school or university and needing an anchor as they landed on the other side of the world. We would trek out to Bogotá airport at any hour of the day or night to squeeze them into taxis back to our flat where we would fill them up with Colombian hot chocolate (with the Colombian tradition of adding in pieces of cheese!).

 

That would be quickly followed by showing them how to ‘point’ in Colombia – by pouting in the direction you are indicating. This of course would instantly break the ice, as they would all practice their pouts and fall about laughing as their “pointing” far better resembled kisses!

 

Then would come the explanation of where to throw your toilet paper (in the bin not the toilet!), the need to climb the stairs slowly to avoid breathlessness from the altitude, and of course we would have to show them the stunning views of the Andes mountains. Why did we do all this? We were inviting them to be part of “us”. To share our lives, the strange and the wonderful. To help them connect and participate, and then rest and enjoy. We had already both walked the journey of realising that on mission you are not just a workhorse; you go as your whole self and that means you need to feel that joy, that rest, that sense of belonging that you feel at home. So we tried to recreate home for them.

 

After eight years of working as Short Term Coordinators in Colombia, we arrived in London to
do church youth work and we were on the receiving end of that welcome. Our flight arrived at 4am and yet
we were collected from the airport by the vicar’s wife with the warmest of smiles and welcomes. It was still
Covid lockdown but church members turned up on the doorstep to hand us gifts from a 2m distance and
cheer us on despite the freezing snow we arrived in!

 

People who we didn’t know prayed for us every week in the church services online while we watched from our new lounge. They made us part of “them”! And now that circle of welcome continues as we welcome young people into the family of God and our church family.

 

“It’s continuous and it’s infectious. When we open our arms and our doors with generosity, joy and compassion we invite in the undeniable presence of Jesus and his worldwide family.”

 

 

If you would like to support Abi and Pipe’s work click here for their fundraising page.