Faith Over Fatalism: Our December in the Mountains!

This year has been transformational to say the least. We’ve seen a lot more of the world and learned a lot more about ourselves. We wanted to share this story as an example of how we’ve seen God transform a community. This is pastor Martín…

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He is the head pastor for the indigenous mountain villages we traveled to. He teaches the truth of God in 3 churches each with about 35 adults and 5 million adorable kids:)

Here are just a few…

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He’s never been to bible college or received any kind of formal training. Over the course of 2 weeks we covered the whole story of the Bible! As we taught he listened closely and filled a little green notebook with the truth of God’s word. We found out that he was preparing his sermons for the following year based on the new truth we were teaching from the bible. Wow! These truths have the power to change every life in his community!

The predominant worldview of in this area is Fatalism.”Que Sera, Sera” (Whatever will happen, is going to happen). Mixed with a bit of Karma (If it happened, you deserved it)! Now think about if you were poor living in this place with this mindset… You would be taught that not only do you deserve to suffer because of your wickedness but also there is absolutely nothing you can do about it because it was meant to be. Can you imagine? How would you be motivated to grow or improve your situation? How could you really believe that God loves and forgives you if you’re still suffering even with all your hard work ?!

We were able to challenge this worldview with the freedom of life in Christ. “You weren’t created to suffer, you were created to have life abundantly!” No matter what our financial situation may be. “When you’re forgiven by Jesus that’s it! No more punishment or shame for your sins. He took it. You’re loved and free to enjoy it!” We trust that God will speak through Pastor Martín and transform their community in the years to come.

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Favorite quotes right now…

“The pain of regret is far worse than the pain of discipline.” – Nathan Whitley & Patti Peviani

“We shouldn’t move forward by running from a bad situation. God calls us to run to what he has for us.” – Kerry Ast

 

Teaching about Freedom in a Mexican Prison

I’m 23 years old. I’m a “gringo.” And I’ve never been to prison to my own country. What could I possibly say about heaven to a group of men who’ve gone through hell? That’s all I could think as we were being escorted along the wall through locked gate after locked gate.

View from the Outside

As we walked I noticed something interesting. Birds. They flew over the high razor-wire and settled in the small trees that grew in the courtyard. I thought it was kind of ironic. But I kept walking. We walked down halls and through fences until we finally got to the location where I was teaching. I shuffled to quickly set up my material before the last worship song. After a quick look at my notes I lifted my head. They chose to come hear me?

I could see so much in their faces. So many things I wouldn’t understand. Yet here I was speaking to them.

I realized I had absolutely nothing to offer these men. I couldn’t make them any promises. I didn’t have any money, food, or influence. I looked desperately down at my notes, closed my eyes, and asked God for help. I heard the men singing the chorus of last worship song “Creo en ti Jesús… (I believe in you Jesus), Y lo que aras en mí… (And what you will do in me), Recibe toda la gloria… (Receive all the glory), Toda la honra… (All of the honor), Precioso hijo de Dios… (Precious Son of God).” I was right. They didn’t need me.

For the next hour we went over the history of Israel from Exodus to Exile. God frees his people from 400 years of slavery only to see them deny him time and time again. In His mercy he sends prophets to call them back. He warns them for the next 860 years! Until inevitably they’re exiled from the land he’s given them.

Why do we fight for the freedom to choose our own prisons? Whether our filters are on cigarettes or Instagram, we let the wrong things control us. When the bible says “Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” It’s not just talking about a perspective, but a person. Jesus says “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

At the end I shook hands with a man named Carlos. He told me that his oldest son was about my age. He pauses and looked at me with pain in his eyes. He shared that all 3 of his children grew up while he was in prison. He’s been there more than 20 years now. “Looking at my life it would seem I’ve lost everything” he said. “But I see now this is what it took for God to get through to me. For me to finally listen. And for him to set me free!” He told me personally knowing God made it all worth it.

“I get out next year but I’ve been free a lot longer”… 

Favorite quotes right now…

“The bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” – D.L. Moody

“Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.” – “Which is?”

“It’s not about you.” – The Ancient One (from Doctor Strange!)

Two taxis and a boat

Honored to take two taxis and a boat to get to one of our churches!

 

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Chain Me Free

How would you define worship? Really, take a second… Would it be a song on Sunday morning or maybe, like me, you know it’s deeper than that but have never really searched it out. The bible says so many things about it and I’ve seen first-hand some of my favorite Christian leaders come to slightly different conclusions. I ask because over the last couple weeks we’ve been blessed with quite a few opportunities to lead worship. So we started to practice. Almost immediately we could feel a microscope on our motives. We wanted to do a good job but is worship a performance?

Leading Worship In Spanish

We were honored to lead worship at a ministry called the Ranch. A drug rehabilitation center for the struggling men of Tijuana. This was one of the most refreshing places to lead worship that we’ve ever seen. In broken Spanish we sang “Señor te exalto” (Lord I exalt you) and the prodigal sons sang as loud as they could. The stress of hitting the right chords melted as I could hardly hear the guitar. You knew they were singing to the awesome God that freed them. To sing in unity with those men was a gift and it reminded me that “streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”

One of the men shared his story with us after the service. This was his 4th time returning home. His eyes were tired and his hands were worn. Why would he do it?! Why would he keep going back to the dark and distorted loneliness of the world? We prayed for him at the end of the night and he only wanted one thing: a fetter. He wanted a chain to bind his wandering heart to the Father.

The Ranch

“O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.”

So what is worship? Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Surrendering exactly who we are and placing Him above ourselves.

Favorite quotes right now…

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2

“Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” – Yogi Tea!

This Year’s Firsts and Fruits

It’s been quite a year for the Colangelos. First and foremost we actually became the Colangelos!

Just to clarify what we’re actually doing out here I thought I’d sum it up… We are staff members of a chronological bible school in Tijuana, Mexico! This year we have 16 students hungry to study the bible. This school is part of a larger non-profit Christian missions organization called Youth with a Mission (YWAM). We’ve been here for almost 3 years now! And we love it! There are thousands of YWAM “bases” serving all over the world. This location of YWAM allows us to join its home building and homeless feeding ministries!

We’d love to share with you some of the unbelievable fruit we’ve seen while serving …

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Together we’ve build almost 15 homes for needy families!

This month (by the grace of God) we were even able to build our 2nd home with great friends and family.

The benefits of a home show God’s love for the family and greatly affect their health, their children’s education, and can even have a huge spiritual significance!

Local Church Grad

We were also blessed to see the graduation of the local Mexican church that Blaire and I teach in.

Not only are they learning to study God’s word on there own but they’re also learning how to share this truth with others!

Favorite quotes from what we’re reading…

“The natural man must know in order to believe; the spiritual man must believe in order to know.” – A.W. Tozer

 “God created us to love one another, to be kind, unselfish, forgiving, honest, and loyal to our husbands and wives, and to recognize and live in fellowship with Him. The very meaning of our existence is found in loving and obeying God.” – The Father Heart of God

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” – Psalms 111:10

Practicing the Presence

The students are coming! The students are coming! Growing up we never thought we’d be excited for another year of school but when your teaching God’s Word and about His amazing love its hard not to get excited! As we dive into our second year of staffing the CSBS (Chronological School of Biblical Studies) we are thankful for all that God has done to get us here! This past weekend we had a conference put on by our organization YWAM (Youth With a Mission) San Diego/ Baja to get us ready for this udownloadp coming year.

Our speaker Maureen, a YWAMer from South Africa came to share her heart. She taught out of 2nd Corinthians 3 and brought up the subject of how the Old Covenant with Moses and the New Covenant with Jesus are very different. She spoke about how many christians today still relate to God with an Old Covenant mindset. She explained that Moses could be separated from God because Jesus hadn’t come yet. The presence of God had to come to Moses but the presence of God did not dwell in him.

We learned that the New Covenant with Jesus shows that now with the help of the Holy Spirit God’s amazing presence dwells in us at all times. Not just when we’re in worship or prayer but all the time. His presence is in us wether we’re singing, stealing, or doing the dishes . All WE have to do is recognize this reality in any moment and enjoy. We are an adopted son and daughter in this amazing family called the trinity.
This year we want to live out this encouraging and incredible word that CommunionMaureen gave. We both want to practice the presence of the God in our everyday ordinary life. Allowing Christ in us to pour out more of who He is to each other and those around us! Thankfully He is kindness, compassion, forgiveness, humility, gentleness and goodness!

 

 

We also took communion on the happiest day of our lives… God is good!

There’s No Place Like Home

“Homes of Hope” is one of the biggest ministries at the base and it’s one of the most amazing things that God is doing here in Mexico. 

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I was honored to work side by side with this young man as we built him and his family a brand new home! 

In just 2 days this family of 5 received a roof over their heads that doesn’t leak and a floor under their feet. God is our provider. He provides us with hope when our situation looks hopeless and He provides a roof when the rain is coming down. This hope is unseen to the natural eye but then again so is He. When you’re in a hopeless situation turn your eyes to the God of the impossible you just might see it!

Finished house

By chriscolangelo Posted in YWAM

Immeasurable and Undeserved

The “love of God” may be an obvious theme in the new testament considering what Jesus came to do, but I’ve come to the end of my intense study of the Old Testament and it’s become abundantly clear the it was love all along.

Whether God was rescuing an entire nation.

Or just one man…

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He is always there in immeasurable and undeserved love!

Ever since we were torn from our Father in the garden, He has been working endlessly to restore His children back to Him. From the promise He made to Abraham to the Law He gave to Moses. Through kings, tyrants, and even through exile He has always been in eternal pursuit of you and me! Not to give away the ending but after nearly 1600 years of relentless attempts of recreation God sends His son to die for us.

By chriscolangelo Posted in YWAM

The Longest Journey Is From Head to Heart

My classmates and I have been studying the relationship between God and the Israelites in the old testament (inside and out) and i have come to the conclusion that the longest journey is from head to heart.
Wrestling !

This is a picture of three buff hooligans (me and my brothers Tony and Eric) after a wrestling tournament in the early 2000’s. I can remember whether I won my wrestling match or not I would run straight to my dad. As I got older I started to turn to other things for comfort when I didn’t know what to do.

Israelites
The Israelites (as seen above) were the chosen nation of the almighty creator, and yet as they grew as a nation and times got hard they turned to their own strength and false idols. I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to know all about God (In your head) and never let that information affect your heart and actions. I can sometimes treat God like a child that I let drive the car of my life only until it starts to snow or I’m in a hurry and then he takes a back seat. I thought about how Israel did the same thing to God and after a while they gave up letting him drive at all.

The amazing difference between God and the idols that the Israelites and I used to turn to is that God desires a heart relationship with us! When we trust in that relationship we know in our heart’s that we aren’t pursuing comfort, the comforter is pursuing us!

By chriscolangelo Posted in YWAM

Cross The Border, Hope To Die… (And live in Christ )

Over the past 3 months I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to attend a Chronological School of Biblical Studies (CSBS) through the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) organization in Tijuana, Mexico. And it has been a hoot!
Group on the steps
I’m in a class of 17 students from 8 different nations! We have been studying the bible one book, one chapter, one verse at a time! Reading each book about 5 or 6 times before we move on. We have been studying the background of the people and places of the time periods, as well as the personal application to our lives today.
Washing hairI was blessed with an opportunity to show God’s selfless love this thanksgiving by washing the hair of some of the homeless people who have been taken from their families and might struggle to find something that they’re thankful for this holiday season. I would not have been able to do it without your prayers and support! As I continue to dig into God’s word please join with me in prayer that God’s name would be praised throughout the process. Thanks again for all your help and support.

By chriscolangelo Posted in YWAM
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Buildin’ the “Blog Cabin”!

Welcome to my page; here you will be able to find pictures, stories, and information on my adventures in Tijuana Mexico, Youth With A Mission and beyond.

First things first; I would love to hear back from you about how I can best keep in contact with you. I would also like to know how I can be praying for you, or really anything that’s been going on in your life. You can contact me for specific information by commenting on this page, or by sending me an email at: chriscolangelo21@gmail.com

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Some of the amazing friends God has blessed me with in Tijuana.

Come back soon as I will be updating this page frequently, and feel free to check out the tabs at the top of this page to see what else God has been doing!

By chriscolangelo Posted in YWAM