This is part 3 of a 5-part series of stories about millennials working in missions with OMS. This is part one of two of Harold's story. Harold served at the OMS World HQ in Greenwood, Indiana, for six months learning the details of a mission organization, especially in the Mobilization Department.
Young People Stepping Into Missions: Harold’s Call to Missions
One night, 10-year-old Harold Hurtado prayed to God that when he woke up in the morning he would be in a different place in the world, a place where he felt like he belonged. But when he got up the next morning and peeked through his window, he was in the same place ... Colombia, South America.
Though he might not have teleported to a different location overnight, Harold did get to travel to many new places as he followed God’s calling into missions.
Harold’s story began when he was a young boy. He grew up in Apartadó, Colombia, in an area where there was a variety of different cultures. His family was Christian, but he didn’t personally accept Christ as his Savior until he was eight. When he did, he knew that he wanted to have a personal relationship with God, something more than a faith that was his parents’ or his pastor’s. He wanted to claim faith as his own.
Growing up, Harold spent a lot of time in his church. He started to think about missions and asked a lot of questions about God. Harold’s thoughts about missions eventually led him to his first missional experience. At 10 years old, God fostered an interest in him for indigenous people in his area. One day, Harold noticed there were poor people in his area who needed shoes to get to school. When Harold saw this need, he gathered some friends and told them about his sadness when he saw these people. With some teachers from his school, Harold and his friends visited these people. They took pictures and listened to their stories. Then, they went and bought boxes of shoes.
Harold and his friends wrote a note inside all of the shoes that said “these shoes are to cover your socks, so that you will follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ.” The shoes were a surprise for the people who received them. Fifteen years later after that first trip to deliver shoes, Harold said that two churches are planted in that place because the pastors decided to plant new churches. This was Harold’s first missionary experience, but it was definitely not his last.
As a teenager, he started to coordinate missionary teams in his region through activities like theatre and sports. He encouraged young people to use the gifts and abilities they had to show Jesus Christ to others. Harold and his teams went around the region with their gifts to reach kids who suffered from a lack of God in their lives. Over time, pastors from churches in Harold’s region, around 100 of them, took notice of what these teenagers were doing and started to use them as a model to motivate their young people.
God surprised Harold by using him at such a young age. By 16 years old, Harold was coordinating several missionary teams in his region and leading evangelism efforts as well. He started studying administration at university. With a strong passion for writing, Harold also wrote an article about an issue that was pressing on his heart, the idea that Christ should change communities. Each person is different, he had written, and those differences should be used to unite communities and follow God’s plan, because the world is watching what Christians do. With all this work, Harold became more involved in writing and conferences. He loved what he was doing and was learning a lot along the way.
Harold’s home church, the Inter-American Church of Colombia (IGLEICO), was founded by One Mission Society (OMS) in 1943. This denomination had about 400 churches planted, but they had never planted a church outside of Colombia. Harold noted that they had many churches but didn’t have a clear identity in relation to God’s work in their country or around the world.
It was at this time in 2010 that the denomination’s president became concerned about this issue. He wanted their churches to support missions, as well as to get young people and pastors involved. The president reached out to OMS and started to rebuild relationships with the intent of working together with OMS to reach these mission-oriented goals.
The president reached out to Harold’s friend, Oscar, who was in Medellin, Colombia. Oscar became the denomination’s leader for their new department of missions. OMS made an agreement with the denomination so that they could start sending out missionaries from Colombia, through OMS, to minister around the world. This was difficult and slow work, especially because the pastors had never worked with missions before. But Oscar’s passion helped drive this work, and slowly, Harold and others could see God’s hand in the midst of all this development.
Oscar and Harold connected at a conference in 2011 after these changes started taking place. Oscar told Harold about his work in missions and his passion to send out missionaries. He encouraged Harold to be a part of this work, but Harold backed away from the offer.
Oscar kept insisting that Harold be a part of this new mission department, but that would mean Harold would have to leave his home and live in Medellin. However, God kept putting this idea on his heart … so strongly, in fact, that despite his hesitancy, Harold knew he had to be a part of this mission. Six months later, he was in Medellin.