Count Down to Colombia

In two days, on June 23, a group of twenty will embark on a trip to Medellin, Colombia where we will minister to street children as well as families in a particular neighborhood of the city.   Of the twenty people that will be traveling together, nine are members of Grace Fellowship, three are from Colombia, and the remaining eight are from around the Houston area with the exception of one being from Minnesota.  We will introduce the team to you in upcoming posts.


Medellin is a city with a close proximity to the equator at an altitude of 5,000 feet sitting in a valley in the Andes Mountains.  It is home to more than three million people.  Medellin is the center of the textile industry in South America and is today, a modern, vibrant city.  However, scattered along the hillsides surrounding the city are many makeshift communities that are home to the poor and displaced people of Colombia.  It will be in these out lying areas of Medellin that our team of twenty will converge to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need.  While there, we will post to the Grace blog as often as we have Internet service, hopefully once a day.


Isaiah 1:17, encourages us with these words: “Learn to do right, seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow.”  Over the next week, it is our group’s desire to be obedient to the call of Christ as His instruments of love and grace among the lost, oppressed, fatherless and window in Colombia.  Also while in Colombia, we will share with our new friends about the unreached people groups (UPG’s) in the 10/40 window around the world.  As our team ministers, we will incorporate the Grace Fellowship adopted UPG’s into our games and activities in order that by the end of the week, we will be able to conduct a concert of prayer with our new Colombian friends, having made aware to them the Grace mission focus of the Bonjar, Makassar and the Bugis people.  We will also be playing games with new sports equipment we will take to leave behind as well as craft activities with string and yarn.


Our families and friends cheering us on in the USA are as important on this trip as those of us who will actually be in country.  Without your support, a trip like this would be more difficult.  As Paul said in his letter to the church at Phillippi in Phillipians 1:3-6, “I thank my God every time I remember you, in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.


Our group is comforted by the tremendous amount of prayer support that we will receive from all of our friends and family at Grace Fellowship as well as those who are supporting us from other places.  So just as Paul stated, we too are thankful every time we remember you!   It is our desire and prayer that anyone who has sight of this blog page will prayerfully consider making a short-term mission.  It has been our experience that the Lord wants to do as much ministering to us while we are away as he wants to use us to minister to others in far away places.  Bill and I along with the rest of our mission team invite you to follow this blog and enjoy the experience this next week in Medellin, Colombia.  You really won’t want to miss all that God is going to do in and around us!     Sandy Byrd


Faith of Our Fathers! Living Still

Between the green hardback cover of my grandmother’s Melodies of Praise hymnal, is a treasure of yellowing pages speaking of God’s goodness to His people, a testimony of His power and, a call to complete surrender.  I hold Melodies of Praise second only to the Holy Scripture as God delivered His message  through inspired words composed to music.  Just as David, the lowly shepherd boy played his harp to soothe King Saul in 1 Samuel 16, the legacy of God’s message lives on in song.

Melodies of Praise

I recall my grandmother whom I called Mamaw, often leading the “song service” in our small, country, church.  The church used  one particular hymnal, titled, Melodies of Praise.  Mamaw kept her own copy and wrote in pen in the back, a list of her favorite songs to lead.   I would be remiss if I didn’t share a portrait of this  woman of faith.  She loved to “put-on-the-dog” in the way that she dressed.   For those of you who grew up in small town America know what I’m talking about when I say “put-on-the-dog”.  I can picture her in an ankle length dress which was usually in a shade of red, accented with matching “ear bobs”, brooch, a pair of pumps that would today make the cover of Cosmo and wag the tongues of many jealous women.  She also adorned her fingers, which were always well manicured, with lots of sparkling diamonds.  Her hair was fixed to perfection, piled high on her head and sprayed stiff so that it would hold in place for a few days.  She could belt a tune, as could most of the women on her side of the family, which is why we were often under her direction for song worship at church.  The more she sang and the Spirit moved, the less she could control her feet.  She would begin skipping around the platform in front of the congregation.  Her hair wouldn’t move but the skirt of her long dress was in full swing.  As a young girl watching this action before me, I couldn’t help but wonder how she kept the whole gig going as she skipped around singing, clapping and keeping her balance in her very high heeled pumps.

Mamaw’s list of favorite Hymns
Faith of Our Fathers! Living Still

If you have never experienced a “song service” in an Assembly of God church on a Sunday evening, life is not in you, friend.  As my Aunt Patty would strike the first chord on the piano and the faithful electric guitarist, Mr. Finch or, my Uncle, Nicky Monigold would pick the string of the same note, Mamaw would raise her right hand out in front of her as if she were leading a choir of a thousand angelic voices.  Her right arm swooped down with power and authority to begin the first note.  As the piano rang and voices raised, the walls and the ceiling in the small wood framed church began to vibrate.   For the next hour, sometimes two, the church shook.   At school on Monday, my friends, who often sat outside the building on their bicycles during the Sunday evening service, made comments about the noise coming from behind the church doors the night before.  However, what they considered noise, was a long legacy of faith delivered in song.

There have been many times throughout my life that I have opened the pages of  Mamaw’s hymnal.  At times, to live again the days of old with a good laugh as I remember the little church vibrating off its foundation,  or to find peace and comfort in a particular song.  There have been other times like today that I pulled the book from the shelf for no particular reason except to be sure the words were still on the pages of this very old friend.  Settling into my comfortable reading chair, I allowed the green cover and aged pages to casually fall open in my lap.  Immediately, I waifed a hint of Este Lauder, Mamaw’s signature perfume.  Looking down at the fading black ink on the yellowing page, 60, was the song titled:  Faith of Our Fathers!  Living Still.

Faith of our fathers, living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword;

Oh how our hearts beat high with joy, whene’er we hear that glorious word

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!  We will be true to thee till death!

Our fathers chained in prisons dark, were still in heart and conscience free:

How sweet would be their children’s fate, if they, like them, could die for thee!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!  We will be true to thee till death!

Faith of our fathers we will love, both friend and foe in all our strife;

And preach thee too as love knows how, by kindly words and virtuous life!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!  We will be true to thee till death!