We have been blessed by the partnership of the Church of the Redeemer for its support -both in prayer and finances- over the past three decades as we were deployed by the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS) to five different countries in the Americas. Once we retired, we chose to settle down in Jacksonville. A few months after the Covid 19 Pandemic started changing everything in our known world, it prompted us to reflect on our lives and ask questions like these: Is it possible for long-time missionaries to retire? What would it look like? Since we have been 30 years out of our original country (Colombia), how could we start ministering our many relatives and friends down there? How could we follow up with at least some of the people we worked with in various cities in the past?
Ideas began to pop up a year ago when we were ‘forcefully’ confined to our apartment for the reasons we all know. We began to give more importance to our phone and video-calls (mainly WhatsApp) with family members and a number of good friends in the previous countries where we served. We realized very soon that behind every person’s story there is a real spiritual need to be heard, to be prayed, and to have fellowship with others. This last need became especially prominent when many countries had to enter lockdown mode to stop the spread of the mortal virus.
In this context we started with sporadic Zoom meetings to pray at the request of a first cousin of ours in Colombia. Then it became a weekly meeting, and then a sister living in Texas asked us if she could join us. It was so easy to say ‘yes.’ Then, step by step, other people were invited among family and friends in other countries. The Redeemer Church allowed us to use its paid Zoom platform to be sure we would not be cut off after 40 minutes of free access. Then we opened different groups during the week to facilitate the participation of other people with various interests and spiritual needs.
Juan and Marie Marentes