Changing Hearts and Lives in Colombia

Church on the Rock Katy and Conviventia, a Christian nonprofit, joined forces to help raise almost $12,000 to help impoverished children in Colombia. Conviventia is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in Colombia by strengthening individuals, families, and communities through a broad range of programs based on principles of faith, empowerment and sustainability and has a strong emphasis on education. 

“I have known them for around twenty years and they do an outstanding job caring for the needs of underprivileged kids in Colombia,” said Jorge Cardenas, Senior Pastor at Church on the Rock-Katy. “They have been struggling with the ravishes of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has hit Colombia especially hard.”

So, when Pastor Cardenas approached Dag Blokkum, Executive Director of Conviventia US, and suggested they host a fundraiser to help sponsor impoverished children in Colombia, Dag was excited at the opportunity.

“The pandemic has set our efforts back ten years in Colombia, and unfortunately, the children are always the hardest hit,” he somberly stated. “It will take at least five years to recover, if not longer.”

Conviventia’s original founders, Lindsay Christie and his wife Denise, were missionaries who traveled from their native New Zealand to Colombia in the mid-Sixties on a two-week boat trip. Little did they know that their novice start would literally impact tens of thousands of Colombians for God’s Kingdom.  

One time, they were even moments from possible death from guerillas who ransacked their home and held them captive while holding rifles to their heads. The Christies youngest daughter, Missy, who was only 11 years old at the time, recalled seeing her parents tied up beside her, hands and feet bound. She closed her eyes waiting for the final moment – but then the doorbell rang. It was the Christie’s older daughter. They tied her up too, threw her on top of the other three, and immediately left.

“To this day, I do not know what those men saw,” said Missy. “God protected us that day.” Ten years later, the same guerilla group that had held the Christies captive became a political group and turned over their weapons.

Lindsay started a school for the ex-guerillas and scoreless others, remembering the commandment, “Love one another, even as I have loved you.”

When Lindsay died in 1994, Missy took over, and eventually started CDA, which means Corporacion Dios es Amor, or in English, Corporation God is Love. In 2016, the new name “Conviventia” which is Latin for “living and working together” was adopted to better reflect their holistic approach to social change.

Missy and her husband, Carlos would temporarily move to Katy, Texas, where they established the US office for Conviventia in 2011. Missy still oversees the operations throughout Colombia, where Conviventia’s main office and projects are located, but now with the help of her daughter, Valentina Smith, who volunteers for Conviventia here in Texas.

“As a Colombian, my heart aches knowing the hopelessness, poverty and violence that plague my country. But it makes my heart rejoice to see how many people love Colombia and take the time to lift my country up before the Lord,” stated Valentina. 

“As Missy’s daughter, it is a huge honor for me to be able to volunteer with Conviventia and know that I’m a part, however small, of the solution. I’m so thankful to everyone who supports this organization, and to everyone at Conviventia for the love and dedication they have for healing Colombia.

If you would like more information on how to sponsor a child in Colombia, please visit their website at www.conviventia.us/get-involved/friends-of-hope

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Joseph Menslage

Joseph Menslage is the Publisher of Katy Christian Magazine and Fort Bend Christian Magazine. Contact him at joseph@houstonchristianmagazine.com.