Will God really forgive me?

 

came across a  file marked, “Old Newsletters” in my overly crowded file drawer. Inside were copies of letters and documents going back decades of LOGOI’s ministry.

The story of the “three fingered” pastor named Flavio jumped out at me. I smiled as I remembered my Dad telling the story. It took place during a particularly terrible time of guerrilla warfare with the ruthless FARC guerrillas in Colombia. This was also a time when my Dad was traveling to Colombia, often to these very dangerous areas. More than once, he was urged to not travel because of the danger including the possibility of kidnapping. He went anyway.

The story picks up as Flavio and two friends were traveling in a motorized canoe up a river in Colombia on their way to a LOGOI Bible study. Suddenly, shots rang out. Flavio’s friends are struck and instantly killed. Two of Flavio’s fingers are shot off as he tumbles into the water. Bleeding, terrified, and in terrible pain, he struggles to shore only to be quickly surrounded by a group of rough militia men pointing their guns at him. Flavio is accused of being part of the FARC group and if they determine that to be true, he will be executed on the spot.

Flavio wrapped his bleeding hand in his shirt trying to stop the flow of blood as the militia retrieved the canoe, searched the bodies, tore open their backpacks and tossed the contents on the ground. “What is this?” the militia leader asked, surprised to find books rather than guns or drugs. “It’s our Bibles and books,” Flavio cried out grieving for his friends.

Perhaps thinking Flavio was trying to con him, the militia leader pressed further, “Why are you here?” A terrified Flavio replied, “We were on our way to a Bible study. We’re studying to be preachers.” For some reason he then boldly added, “We want to tell people about Jesus and how to find peace and forgiveness in Him — no matter what they’ve done.” 

The rough militiamen stared at Flavio trying to determine what to do. Finally, they warned him to stay off the river and slipped back into the jungle. A trembling Flavio sobbed for his friends then rushed to the hospital and to the police.

Dad loved talking about the importance and need to train and equip the men and women who already live in these parts of the world. That’s why LOGOI was created. “They are amazingly talented people who love the Lord. We don’t want to replace them, we need to help them.”

That continues to be LOGOI’s calling to this day: helping equip national pastors and teaching leaders to proclaim the Gospel in their communities. And in a world of skyrocketing expenses, LOGOI continues to do so for pennies on the dollar. 

It costs over $60,000 a year to send one single missionary overseas. While there will always be a place for sending missionaries, it costs LOGOI only $60 a year ($5 per month) to provide ongoing, on-the-job Bible training and resources to an indigenous pastor or Bible teacher — like Flavio. The contrast is dramatic!

If you knew my Dad, you would know that when he told the rest of Flavio’s story, his eyes filled with tears… Time goes by, the FARC guerrilla conflict subsides (for a time) and Flavio becomes a pastor. One day, two rough looking men wander into Flavio’s church. 

they explained walking in the doors. There Flavio stood and slowly raised his hand. “We have been searching for you,” the men began. “We were part of the group that shot you and your friends that night on the river.” These two rough men began to explain how they were full of guilt and despair for all they had done in their lives and were never able to forget about Flavio that night in the jungle. They wanted to know if it was true… Could God really forgive no matter what they had done?

Would you be surprised to learn Flavio had the joy of leading those two men to the saving love and grace of Jesus that day? What a joy it must have been to see those hardened men understand that “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18a). 

I can’t help but think how often Flavio must look at his hand and smile: “Two fingers for two souls—a rather good trade!”

We’ll get to meet them one day! Flavio, too. Thank you for investing in proclaiming the Gospel with us here at LOGOI. We are so grateful for your partnership. Now let’s go help train and equip some more “Flavios.”