Agua Panela Outreach

Since 1994

The agua panela outreach represents both the DNA and birthpoint of Ciudad Refugio. It was the very first ministry of Pastor Douglas when he arrived to Medellin, Colombia in 1993, serving the poor and offering them opportunity to know Jesus Christ.

The ministry continues today through a diverse team of local and international volunteers who go out on the streets weekly to minister to the homeless, addicted and displaced.

The agua panela outreach represents the first step in the ladder of Ciudad Refugio’s recovery programs. An invitation is given to those who live on the streets to come and sleep in the Ciudad Refugio shelter. The only requirement is that they cannot come under the influence of drugs and alcohol and that they cannot express violence or aggression towards others in any way.

The agua panela outreach has become a bridge for other organizations, ministries, bible schools and interested individuals. It is a way to connect Christians to real, tangible human need. An experience that challenges individuals to apply abstract theory to difficult real-life realities.

700+ outreaches and 1000+ volunteers in 15 years

Volunteer Testimony

My life has changed after this

My experience serving with the ministry of Agua Panela has deeply impacted my heart.  I’ve learned that everyone – each of the men and women living on the streets and using drugs – is searching for love. some might find this population offensive but they are not, and they are genuinely open to receiving the authentic love of Christ.

The sugar water

Every Wednesday night a group of Ciudad Refugio volunteers head out to the streets to distribute agua panela (hot sugar water) and bread to Medellin’s homeless and addicted.  The snack is accompanied by a tract sharing about the love of God and inviting involvement in the shelter and recovery services of the foundation.  This simple act of love represents the longest standing ministry of Ciudad Refugio and also the heart of the organization as we return weekly sowing seeds of grace.

The Beginnings | A Personal Account

The year was 1994 and it was a very violent period in Colombia.  The church where we worked was located in one of the darkest and scariest neighborhoods in Medellin.  The Saturday meeting with the church’s youth just ended.  Sunday was almost here, a day of a lot of work for us.  We call the weekends, the great marathon.  We had five meetings with five messages to prepare and street evangelism.  By the time it was done, we were dead.  And on Mondays . . . it began again. In addition, I was single and feeling alone, a very painful situation when one is 25 years old. And on top of it all, I was unable to sleep.

The power of prayer

Every hot drink and bread is served with a “Jesus loves you” and an offer for prayer.  Those who accept experience the power of drawing near to the powerful presence of God and experience, many for the first time, the touch of His grace.

Drops of grace

Each hot drink, each tract, each prayer or “Jesus loves you”, represents a drop of grace.  We don´t know which drop will be the one that penetrates to break open a hardened heart, but every week we continue distributing these drops of grace and we know that it is not us, but God who brings the increase.

A smile and a kind word

The men, women and children who live on the city streets live invisible lives as the world passes them by without acknowledgement.  A smile, a kind word, a gentle touch… simple gestures like these communicate a sense of worth, of being seen, that invisible people are desperate for. 

A Worker’s Story

In search of a familiar face

I started using drugs when I was 14 years old, first with cigarettes, then alcohol then marijuana, then cocaine.  Twenty years later I made the decision to quit.  I shut myself in my house for 5 months and I was able to leave the drugs.

I thought I was free.

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