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Global missionary partners advance Gospel in Colombia

Laura Martinez prepares for an activity at a Vacation Bible School among the Zenú, an Indigenous people group in Colombia. Martinez is a global missionary partner from Mexico and has been serving in Colombia for six months. Photo Provided

Laura Martinez’s letter to her supporters in Mexico is reminiscent of New Testament letters. Recently, she wrote about adapting quickly to the culture, climate, geography and gastronomy of Colombia. She enumerated the differences in seasons and interpretations of certain Spanish words, and she was pleasantly surprised the quality of water in Colombia is higher than where she’s from in Mexico.

More important, she expressed her great joy in participating in the Great Commission task. 

Ronda Massey, an IMB missionary, and Laura Martinez, prepare snacks during a Vacation Bible School. Martinez is serving as a global missionary partner in Colombia. Photo Provided

Martinez is a global missionary partner who serves on an International Mission Board team in Colombia. She was sent out from Dr. G.H. Lacy Baptist Theological Seminary in Oaxaca, Mexico, a seminary founded by IMB missionaries.

GMPs are financially supported by their sending church or organization and serve with IMB teams.

Amanda Davis, director of globalization at the IMB, said through the GMP program, IMB can partner with institutions like the seminary to offer students a place to serve in semester-long internships in cross-cultural missions.

“This is a win-win opportunity for both [the seminary] and IMB. The students get to serve on an established team with veteran IMB missionaries,” Davis said. Students receive experience and training on these teams.

“Our missionaries receive more laborers for the harvest field, more Gospel witnesses, and get the opportunity to pour into the lives of young seminary students, who will become the next generation of international missionaries,” Davis continued.

Short-term, high-impact

After orientation with IMB GMP trainers, Roy and Dirce Cooper, Martinez now serves with IMB missionaries Brian and Ronda Massey.

Zenú children pose for a photo with Laura Martinez, a global missionary partner, and Brian and Ronda Massey, IMB missionaries who serve in Colombia. The Zenú are an Indigenous people group in Colombia. Photo provided

She works among the Zenú, an Indigenous people group in Colombia. She ministers on a reservation and to children and youth in a local church. Her role includes working with IMB missionaries to design oral materials for discipleship and training local believers in two Zenú churches and a church plant.

“My desire is for the families of these groups to be reached and discipled for the glory of God,” Martinez wrote to her supporters.

The team recently celebrated the baptism of new believers. 

“I hope I can convey the joy that is in my heart for what the Lord is doing among this people,” Martinez penned.

“God has really used her in the short time that she has been here to make an impact for His kingdom,” Brian Massey said. “Laura has such a sensitive heart to the Lord and has been used to minister on several occasions to Zenú kids who have had different types of trauma in their past.”

Martinez recently planned, organized and led a Vacation Bible School and trained Zenú Christians. Several children made professions of faith and brought their parents to church.

“[The seminary] has done a great job of preparing her for transcultural work,” Brian said. “Her expertise is exactly what we needed on our team.”

Martinez wrote, “I am so happy and grateful to the Lord for giving me this opportunity to serve Him in Colombia, also for the grace that He gives me, for His care, for His provision [and] for His inexhaustible love.”

Roy Cooper said Spanish-speaking missionaries, especially the seminary students, are highly effective.

“They already know that part of their role is to understand the new context and to adapt to reach the people where they are. Their preparation as well as their coming from Latin America are tremendous helps,” Roy said.

In a letter to the Coopers, Dr. David Tamez, seminary president, expressed his gratitude for the IMB’s support and dedication to the seminary’s students. He said the Coopers’ assistance has been “crucial in the ministerial preparation process of these servants who are poised to extend the Gospel through global missions.” 

He added: “One of the most encouraging aspects we consistently hear from our global missionary partners is the transformative impact of cross-cultural engagement. Many share stories of building meaningful relationships, witnessing positive changes in the communities they serve and experiencing personal growth through the challenges and joys of mission work.”

“The program not only equips students for international missions but also empowers them to serve in a variety of capacities, both globally and locally,” Tamez continued.

Dirce Cooper hopes serving as GMPs will confirm students’ calling, whether that takes them to an international or local mission field.

“As they work on our IMB teams, we pray that God will speak to them about His specific call for each of them because that is what they want to know: ‘What does God have after this, after I graduate from the seminary?’” Dirce said.

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  • Tessa Sanchez