- February 8, 2023
When most people are asked what word comes to their mind when they think of Bogota, Columbia, they would most likely name things like assassinations, kidnapping, extortion, and drug cartels. However, there is a young lady who graduated from our local Penn Tech College, and the word that comes to her mind when she thinks
When most people are asked what word comes to their mind when they think of Bogota, Columbia, they would most likely name things like assassinations, kidnapping, extortion, and drug cartels. However, there is a young lady who graduated from our local Penn Tech College, and the word that comes to her mind when she thinks of Bogota is —- home. Sarah Tielmann has begun an amazing work as a missionary to Columbia and is anxious to continue her work there.
In one way, it seemed to be destiny for Sarah. Her great-grandparents were the first Protestant missionaries in the city of Pasto in southern Columbia back in the late 1800s. Her great-grandfather died there by unknown causes (possibly foul play), which left her great-granny with four daughters to raise herself. Sarah’s great-grandmother did not give up on Columbia but founded a church in the area as well as a clinic to care for basic medical needs. Her grandmother married another American missionary working in Columbia. They bought a farm and built a small schoolhouse where they took in orphans and children from Pasto whose families needed help and taught them there.
One of their children was Sarah’s father, who also grew up in Pasto until the family moved to Bogota when he was in his early teens. He returned to the states to attend college and found the love of his life, who would become Sarah’s mother and six other siblings.
The Tielmann family lived in eastern Pennsylvania, and Columbia was literally a world away. Sarah was anxious to go to college, yet continual obstacles frustrated her to the point she was almost ready to give up. But by an act of providence, she discovered Penn College in Williamsport, and suddenly all the pieces fell in place.
Sarah decided to pursue a baking and pastry arts degree and discovered that she loved every minute of the baking world. But what she discovered that would have even more impact on her life was a Christian organization by the name of Cru (formally Campus Crusade for Christ). The fellowship and encouragement from her Cru friends kept Sarah going through some very tough scholastic challenges. She began to believe that her studies were preparing her for more than baking.
After graduation from Penn Tech in 2018, Sarah made the decision to commit to serving on the Cru staff in the Susquehanna Valley for two years. This was very fulfilling work, but then came an opportunity in the Spring of 2020 that Sarah was not expecting — Columbia. Cru was building a team to serve in that country, and Sarah knew she was called to go there. She was set to travel there in the Fall of 2020, but the Pandemic put it on hold for a year. She continued her work with Cru for the next year and then was able to finally fulfill her dream and get to go to Columbia in 2021.
I empathize with Sarah because, as a missionary myself, I know what it is like to be in a foreign country that just feels like “home.” Sarah’s ancestral roots were a great opening for her, and for the next year, she was part of a team of six Cru members whose presence was a breath of hope in a country that suffers from a lot of despair.
After one year, the team had to return to the USA, and right before leaving, Sarah had a chance to sit down with a young student named Natalia, with whom she had spent quite a bit of time. They had a lovely breakfast of fresh papaya and mango as Natalia shared she was now following Sarah’s example and disciplining another girl from her campus. This gave Natalia the confidence to accept a leadership role in the Cru ministry there. Sarah’s work has planted a seed that will keep growing.
Right now, Sarah intends to lead short-term trips to South America until she can return to serve in Columbia for the long term. Anyone who wants to share this vision with Sarah can contact her through email at email@example.com or go to her giving site, which is give.cru.org/1000829.