August 17, 2015 Shirley Rueda/IAD Staff
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Colombia recently celebrated a newly organized church on the campus of a public university in the State of Antioquia, in North Colombia.
Church administrators and leaders boasted about the importance of organizing the first church on a public campus in the territory and the country, during a special ceremony on Aug. 8, 2015.
"This ceremony means so much because it is to celebrate the establishment of an Adventist Church on the University of Antioquia, a prestigious and important institution in Colombia," said Pastor Gonzalo Cardona, president of the southwest region in Colombia.
The new church group grew thanks to the vision of two students at the University of Antioquia, or UdeA, who decided to form a group called “Friends of Jesus” at the entrance of the university’s museum building in 2010. There they met to seek out other Adventists enrolled in the university every Friday evening at sunset for vespers worship. The group began to grow and in 2012 it had 18 members. Today the university church has 27 members including currently enrolled students and former students.
Pastor Johnathan Gallego, who is the youth pastor for the district, said it is so unique and special to have a church meeting every week in a public university.
“This had never been seen before, in a state that claims to be secular, but of great Catholic influence, allowing us to have a congregation of young people who can preach to other young people,” said Gallego. “It’s wonderful to have a beacon of light in a place where so much thought, even atheism and other beliefs are prevalent, and provide this university the hope of Jesus Christ through the Adventist message.”
What makes this church so special, besides being within the UdeA, is its missionary spirit and evangelistic strategies to reach an audience that has an advanced intellectual level, but also has common needs, added Gallego.
Some of the evangelistic plans include holding a symposium on creationism with Adventist speakers, said Pastor Gustavo Esteban, pastor of the university church. “We will continue with our music ministry where we visit students who have problems, pray with them, sing to encourage them and invite them to be part of our church.”
The university church has also held weeks of evangelism as well as the “We Pray for You” initiative where church members take their guitars to different parts of the campus to sing, pray, and distribute literature. “They do all of this because they firmly believe that the university is the center spot and the principal objective is to make the university a university for God," added Esteban.
For Jochebed Bohorquez, health administration student at UdeA, seeing the church organized on campus means more opportunities to reach more people. “As young people, we must continue being a good example because God has prepared great things for the university and the church.”
The Universidad de Antioquia is a public university that allows its students to perform various kinds of activities freely, said David Perez, an astronomy student, “so from the start of the small group, Adventist young people have met freely and the university has been very accommodating when the group needs a room or a more comfortable place for meetings.
Plans are to build a church, leaders said. In the meantime, students meet outdoors on campus.
Founded in 1803, the Universidad de Antioquia is the leading academic institution in the State of Antioquia and has more than 36,000 students. This year, the Ministry of Education placed it at No. 6 among the top 20 universities in Colombia.
To view pictures of the special ceremony, click here