People of Faith: A Modern Mother Teresa
- Friday, October 10, 2003
A quiet spoken American woman has been an integral part of a reformation mirroring the Book of Acts that is going on in Colombia, South America. Jeannine Brabon, a missionary with OMS International in Colombia, is a dynamic, but unlikely heroine. Jeannine is an academic, a professor at Seminario Biblico de Colombia (the Biblical Seminary of Colombia). A Hebrew scholar who specializes in Biblical Hebrew and exegésis, she has translated William S. LaSor's Hebrew Grammar into Spanish. One would think that she would live a quiet academic life consisting of teaching, writing, grading papers and working with students.
She does all those things; that is her full time job. But, Jeannine's heart has been gripped by the "culture of death" that is Colombia, where killing has become a lucrative offshoot of the drug cartel and the underworld drug culture. She says, "I teach people who have had their fathers, brothers and sons assassinated. I rarely have a class in any given year that one of my class members does not lose one of their family members to a violent death.'' She adds, "Life is of little value, and no one knows who the enemy is. It's a deadly and dangerous world. But security is not the absence of danger; it's the presence of Jesus.''
What Can I Do?
Jeannine's involvement began indirectly. One of Jeannine's students asked her help in searching for her brother, who had been missing for five days. Jeannine went with her student to the city morgue. In Medellin, 25 deaths are reported on an average day and 100 on weekends. As Jeannine and her student searched through the more than one hundred bodies in the morgue that day, she couldn't get the question out of her mind, ''What can I do? What CAN I do?'' She will never forget Margarita's cry when she found her brother's body. He had been brutally tortured to death. As Jeannine and Margarita wept together, God began providing the answer to Jeannine's question.
Shortly after her experience in the morgue with Margarita, Jeannine was invited to visit Bellavista Prison and preach in their chapel. Jeannine believed that God had prompted the invitation as a result of her question about what SHE could do. Jeannine had read about Bellavista prison. Commonly called the ''jaws of hell,'' Bellavista was built in 1976 to house 1500 inmates; by 1989 it had swelled to 6,600 hardened and heartless criminals.
Though frightened and feeling inadequate for the task, Jeannine knew that ''only the regeneration of the soul of man by Jesus Christ can transform a fallen society.'' Who would be there in the prison service? ''Hired killers and terrorists.'' Jeannine clung to a verse of Scripture -- Proverbs 28:1, ''The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.''
Imagine her surprise, after she preached about King David extending steadfast love, to find twenty-three men, with tears streaming down their faces, move forward to receive Christ. That was the beginning. Since 1991, she has helped start a Bible training school in the prison. She spends two days a week inside the prison witnessing and teaching inmates. Under the seminary's sponsorship, The Bible Training Institute prepares spiritual leaders from among the inmates who come to Christ. The academic standards are high for the two-year degree program and the seminary dean awards the diplomas. Over 40 inmates study at the Bible Institute and close to 200 have graduated.
Because of Jeannine's knowledge of Colombia, - she was born there and grew up there - she, as a native Colombian, has been able to meet with law enforcement, political and prison officials to encourage better conditions (basic facilities such as toilets) for the prison and she witnesses to the prisoners and guards, too.
As a result of Jeannine's special calling to take the transforming message of the Gospel to the prisons of Colombia, she lives under the threat of death. Her interaction and outreach ministry to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families in Medellín is monitored by some of Colombia's most powerful drug lords, terrorists and hired assassins. Enemies follow her and trace her steps forcing her to regularly change her routes and routines.
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