This week, hear from World Race participant Janine Hald as she shares about the ministry opportunities her team partnered with in Medellin, Colombia! Check out her story below, with photos from Claudia Gruett.

Colombia was such a blast! It was such an exciting time to get to work with Ciudad Refugio, try all kinds of different ministries, meet so many wonderful people, and explore the incredible city of Medellin. 

Work Projects

One of the jobs that Ciudad Refugio offers to its residents is packaging spices and seasonings. Men in the recovery program spend hours putting together cardboard boxes and putting the packs of seasoning inside. 

This was the first ministry that we did! Yeyson explained to us in detail how the boxes need to be packaged and boxed. There’s actually a specific way that everything needs to be done. Turns out the key is to grab four packages at once! It only took us a couple minutes to get a rhythm down.

Park Ministry

Once a week, we would walk to the nearby park to evangelize. We talked to a lot of people, some who were interested in learning more about Jesus and Ciudad Refugio, some who wanted nothing to do with God. It was a really humbling and challenging experience, but it was also a great way to practice listening to the Spirit. We weren’t able to take any pictures during this ministry since it involved lots of walking around and having intimate conversations. It was so encouraging to get to pray for families and to see some people stop by the Foundation for church on Sunday.

The Bronx

This was one of my favorite ministries that we got to do! Read all about it in my three-part blog series: Part 1Part 2Part 3. The worship music in the Bronx was always next level. There’s something so incredibly beautiful about praising God in such a dark place.

Women’s Ministry

This was my other favorite ministry at Ciudad Refugio. The women’s recovery program has around 8 members. Each morning they get together for a Bible study before heading off to the kitchen to cook food for all the members in the program. Getting to join them was such a treat! They are so amazing and I wish we had more time to get to know them.

Squeezing packages of honey into a pitcher was one of our go-to jobs when we helped out in the kitchen. It was a sticky, good time!

Mama Donna was in the first group of the women’s recovery program. She completed the program over 20 years ago and has worked at the Foundation ever since!

Elderly Home Visit

We got to visit the local elderly home and spend the afternoon with the residents. We brought art supplies and spent lots of time coloring and drawing. Claudia brought her recorder and we even tried to sing Old McDonald in Spanish.

Arturo loved drawing watches and he also loved to dance with us! I’m so thankful to have met him and be able to spend some time with him.

Kid’s Ministry

Ciudad Refugio has a really great kid’s program! A few of the women in the recovery program have kids who live at the Foundation. There’s also a feeding program that provides families with extra food and clothes during hard times. On one of the weekends, we had a huge party for all the kiddos. There were bouncy castles, crafts, face painting stations, games, and so much dancing!

We also got to put together a skit for the kids. The message was about Jesus healing the blind man in John 9, so we talked about different kinds of spiritual blindness.


The amanaceres is the group of teenagers that live in the Foundation. For one reason or another, they can’t go stay at home, so they have a place at Ciudad Refugio. We got to spend lots of time serving with them in the Bronx and during other various ministries. We also hung out with them a lot during their free time, watching movies and playing games.

Gabriella is so unbelievably sweet! We exchanged numbers and are still in contact. Yoseph is on the worship team and spends lots of time working odd jobs in the Foundation.

Anthony’s mom works in the bakery and would always help cook for us. Milena has an incredible voice and also serves on the worship team. She is an amazing leader when it comes to her peers and loves on the little kids a lot.

Youth Group

The Ciudad Refugio youth group meets up for worship and a lesson once a week. The amanaceres all come and bring even more of their friends. Claudia got to teach a whole lesson on how sin breaks your heart and leaves you feeling empty.

She led the group through a Catholic exercise called an Examination of Conscience where she walked us through the 10 commandments to see how we’ve recently sinned. It was so humbling and powerful!

She also had a super cool illustration where she would mention one of her past sins and tear off a piece of a paper heart. Then, as she shared her journey of repentance and God’s forgiveness, she taped each piece back together.

Sunday School

We also go to help out with Sunday School! The kiddos got together for worship on the roof, then broke off into different age groups for the lesson. I got to help in the 7–8-year-olds’ classroom and it was so much fun!

Worship was such a blast! One of the women from the program, Vanessa, led us with her guitar. While we were with the kids, church was in full swing downstairs. The worship is some of the most incredible I’ve ever experienced. 

Our days were certainly packed with ministry, but we also had lots of time for fun! My team and I took weekly trips to our favorite laundry café to enjoy some delicious waffles and chocolate cake while we washed our clothes. We also took a weekend trip to Guatape which was absolutely incredible! 

God used my time in Colombia to unpack a lot of past hurts and start healing them. I had a lot of conversations with Him about identity, how He sees me, and what it means to have strong, healthy relationships with others. He’s been continuing this work in Ecuador, so thank you for keeping me in your prayers! We have one week left of serving with El Refugio before we meet up with the rest of our squad for a week of debrief. Please be praying for El Refugio, the cabin we’re working on, and the team changes that are to come!

The World Race is an incredible opportunity to grow in your relationship with God, be immersed in Christ-centered community, and serve others around the world. 

Check out our upcoming trips!