While visiting Columbia in 2005, a small boy ran up to Jimmy Munoz, associate pastor at Seabrook church (Lanham, Md.), offering to shine his tennis shoes. “Our Columbia friends felt bothered by the street boy and wanted to send him away with nothing,” says Munoz. “I felt deeply touched by his plight. At his age, I too was out on the streets in Columbia trying to work and make money to provide for my family.”
Since this experience, Munoz learned that there is more than half a million unschooled children in this impoverished country, making them prime targets of drug lords who want them to work on illegal farms. “From that day on, I have wanted to do something to help those who feel that they have no other option but to work in the production of illegal substances.”
Last year, Munoz and his family, nine Seabrook members, Olives and Claudia Villamizar, pastor of four Spanish churches in Potomac, and President Bill Miller flew to Columbia to help begin Munoz’s dream of helping to create a Cocaine Free World. The team taught leadership principles, conflict resolution workshops, and addiction treatment and prevention seminars. At the locals’ request, the group also conducted evangelism meetings, where 12 people made their decision to be followers of Christ. Munoz says the group was mainly there to learn about effective poverty alleviation, fellowship with the local gospel and public workers and encourage them to continue moving forward in sharing the goodness of God. Three thousand-five hundred dollars was donated to a local church, whose dream is to open a Christian school.
“The vision of this ministry, Cocaine Free World, is to promote entrepreneurship and to one day employ people in producing helpful items that have a high demand,” explains Munoz. “We are also working to attack emotional poverty by inspiring people to aim high and dream of starting industries that are greatly needed in order for community members to have honest and productive jobs.” While in Columbia this past year, Munoz met David, a member of an Adventist church who works as a tailor. David dreams of growing his business to employ family members and neighbors who don’t have jobs.
“Through this ministry, I want to make it impossible for druglords to find illiterate people who are willing to work in their fields and to have those 500,000 children in school, learning to dream big—dream about the second coming of Jesus Christ—and how they can make the world a better place prior to the advent.”