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Key Note Speech by Karen Patricia Gregorio Henriquez de Calderon

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! - Psalm 133:1.

I am really excited to be here. My English is not very good as it is not my mother language.

It is really beautiful for all of us to gather here together!! And recognize that we are to share the same purpose!!, the same feeling!!, seeing each other as brothers and sisters, and to taste the flavour that Christ wants us to have; see that light which Christ wants us to shine!!

It is marvellous to realise that Jesus Christ has given us the privilege of being the SALT of the earth. Saint Matthew 5:13, reads: " YE ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH; BUT IF THE SALT HAS LOST ITS SAVOUR WHEREWITH SHALL IT BE SALTED? IT IS THENCEFORTH GOOD FOR NOTHING, BUT TO BE CAST OUT, AND TO BE TRODDEN UNDERFOOT!!" Do you want to have the privilege of adding savor to the world? How can I be the salt of the earth?

Tonight I want to share with you FOUR main functions of SALT, and that we may take each one of them and apply them to our spiritual lives:

1. The first one is FLAVORING: salt is flavouring, because it adds a delicious flavour to food. Food without salt is insipid! And God wants us to radiate flavour and Christ's conduct unto our society, as the early Quakers did. Human beings are looking for something that flavours their lives. Let's help them by sharing peace and love with them, and sharing Christ as our Saviour.

2. COOLING: Salt hydrates, it keeps cold and humidity. God wants us to maintain a cooling comfort for the World in which we live, wants us to share an agreeable atmosphere, that we may demonstrate that Christ lives within our hearts.

3. PRESERVATIVE: Salt preserves food. And you know God wants us to preserve His commandments. He wants us to preserve an agreeable atmosphere between us and all those around us; for us to preserve peace and love.

4. ANTISEPTIC: Salt destroys all harmful germs. God wants us to destroy all wickedness, all harmful germs that hinder our relationship with Him.

Do you understand it better now, why our God has given us the privilege of being salt and light in our land? I hope so, and we should put it into practice.

Another important privilege our Lord has given us His children, is to be "Light". What is light? Light is absence of darkness; it is luminal rays which spread in a straight line and shine. Saint Matthew 5:14 reads: "Ye are the Light of the World. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."

How can we be light? Did you know how you can be light?

1. Shining with our conduct. Are you shining with your conduct?

2. Set a good example. 1 Timothy 4:12b reads: "Be thou an example of the believers in word in conversation, in charity in spirit, in faith, in purity." Do you know what it means to be an example? An example is "a model to follow," and a positive influence for others. Remember that your doings speak much more than your words. Christians should be like a photograph of reality, a proof that Jesus Christ saves and changes lives. Let's be the light of the world and live what we preach, in order to bless many and demonstrate that Jesus Christ is our supreme example.

I want to tell you something. Could you stand up everybody and repeat: "We are the light and salt of this world." Again, "We are the salt of this world."

We know that God wants that.

I want to ask you a question: do you think that if we are salt and light of this earth, we'll never suffer any brokenness? What will you respond to this matter? Yes, it is clear. I know it clearly. Everyone who is around here, we all live in a broken world. Therefore, we have and are suffering brokenness.

WHAT IS BROKENNESS?

We can define "brokenness" with the following words:

" Affliction

" Great sorrow

" Discouragement

" Physical and moral downfall of someone

" Weakening of health and strength of someone, or something.

We live in a broken world, isn't it so? All of us, at certain times of our lives, we have gone through brokenness! We have felt sad and weakened, fearful, timorous! Our era's spirit is characterised by FEAR, and such physical fear determines our personal behaviour most times.

But what are we afraid of?

" Sickness

" Old age

" Family problems

" Fear of social and political conflicts

" Wars

" Violence

" Common delinquency

" Organised crime

" Kidnapping

" Natural phenomena like (earthquakes, storms, hurricanes, and so forth)

We friends are living in a world full of violence. Saint Matthew 24:6-7 reads: "And ye shall hear of Wars and rumours of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, the earthquakes, in diverse places."

As we can see, the Bible exactly describes the brokenness which we are going through nowadays. And even though this is going on Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Saint John 14:27, he is with us, ready to help us and give us tranquillity before the adverse circumstances.

Has God cared for you in this world full of breakdowns? Do you have any experience in which you have seen God's hand on you? I believe so. We all have several experiences in which we have seen God's hand on our lives.

I want to tell you my own experience in this world full of brokenness. I hope it will be of blessing to you and that we may glorify our God together through this story because He is faithful to us. This is the first time I will share it, because I can't do it in my country due to the fact that it is a very delicate subject.

 

MY TESTIMONY

It happened in February, two thousand and eleven. I received a cordial invitation to visit the beautiful country of Peru. They offered me the privilege of leading some workshops and conferences on the subject "Salt and Light", together with my friend and sister in Christ Cristela Martinez. I was very excited and replied "yes." I started to prepare myself for speaking at the conferences and leading the workshops.

I was worrying about the preparation of each theme, and asking God for His help and backing for the preparation of each of them. I wanted God to make me feel His real and true presence in my life, so that I would be able to share everything based on my own experience. I had an example for most of the themes in which I had lived an experience when God had been faithful to me. However, for the particular theme "Friends in a broken world", I wasn't able to find an example with which I would be able to share the message, as I desired to do. While I analyzed them, I thought that we have been victims of all of them every instant. But I had never been particularly a direct victim of organised crime.

I was preparing my themes by the last week of March. My husband's birthday was on the 30th of March and I decided to travel to a city that was approximately three hours away from my home. It was the place where my husband used to work. My mother suggested to me that I should not go, because it was too late to travel. But she did not insist because the cause of my decision was very important. I took the decision of travelling to give my husband the surprise of being with him, to take him a cake, for sharing with his workmates. He didn't know that I was on my way. I arrived at about 6.45 in the evening and went to a very well known restaurant downtown and rested for a while. Then I decided to send my husband a text message on the cell phone and asked him what he was planning to do after work. He replied that his workmates had invited him to dinner for his birthday, and he was going with them. He didn't know that I was there yet. I had dinner by myself at the restaurant and let him have his own plans. Then, I decided to go and get a cake and take it to the hotel where he was staying and wait for him there. He could then share it with his workmates. They were not in that hotel but in a different restaurant.

I called for a taxi and it took me to the hotel. I got there peacefully and breathed a safe atmosphere; a beautiful and attractive hotel. I sat down in the restaurant. There were only three people in the area. I decided to take out my computer, I put it on the table and was going to start to work on the themes I was preparing for my trip to Peru. There were two men opposite me, calmly talking about business. They were guests of the hotel. Suddenly, there came a group of men dressed in black, with high caliber guns and ski masks. They shouted at us: "Where is the lady" (the hotel owner), and they shouted the same several times, threatening and shooting everywhere. I was able to see all their guns shooting. I saw lights everywhere moving all around me. I also saw the two men who were in front of me falling down to the floor, spilling blood. I don't know how I did it, but I put myself underneath the table and covered myself with the tablecloth which hung down to the floor. Being under the table, I could see the wicked men moving everywhere and killing everyone they saw. In that moment, I felt a secure feeling within myself and I felt that nothing could harm me. I was able to feel faith and I felt myself protected. I didn't weep, or cry out. I didn't run away to protect myself but I simply hoped with faith that everything would come to an end. In one moment, they killed the hotel's owner, her daughter and a medical visitor who was a guest. Then, they came back to shoot, again, the two men who were lying down close to me (three to five steps away from me) to make sure that they were not alive, and that there were no witnesses at all. It was a real miracle that I remained alive. They didn't see me. Again they didn't see me. I was under the table and the tablecloth was covering me. They didn't see my computer on the table, or my purse. They didn't see anything about me. God made them blind and saved my life and I still can't understand how it was. I am very weak in such circumstances, very expressive when things happen. I am very enthusiastic when I need to be so and when I deal with any affliction, I am a weeper. In other words, I do not repress my feelings. I don't understand how I could stay so calm. What I understand is that God was with me and kept me with a purpose. We can see here the fulfilment of the promise of Psalm 91:3-4, 6 which reads as follows;

"Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler... He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust .. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come near thee".

The Lord made me feel in my own flesh that He was with me and his word is real; even if we are in a broken world, He is with us, ready to help.

The shooting lasted about three minutes, and I saw when they got into the car and left.

I was still under the table. When the hit men had left, I called my husband and told him what had happened. He did not know that I was there. He became perplexed , dumb, frightened, wordless.

This comes to my mind and I say: "God does everything, because my husband and his workmates delayed in arriving at the hotel, because they delayed in giving them the bill at the restaurant where they had eaten dinner." God does everything, because such delay caused them to arrive five minutes after the happenings otherwise it could have been lethal for them too.

When my husband entered the restaurant, he cried my name and saw all dead people around him. I was under the table alive. You could see dishes and glasses all broken over the tables. All the glass in the windows was destroyed and do you know what, my computer did not suffer any damage either. That was incredible, for everything that was on the tables was left totally destroyed. They took me out from there; nobody else saw me not even the police. Praise God! Otherwise, they would have caught me as a witness, so that I should give evidence of all that happened. In such a case, my life would be in danger. But God didn't allow even that.

On the following day all headlines and newspapers were publishing the happenings and my name was not even mentioned. No doubt it was God's doing, for He cares for even the smallest detail.

Some hours later, my husband was reading Psalms for me and my family was calling praying for me over the phone praising God for my life. Psalms 23, verse 4 encouraged me so much. "Yea though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

This was exactly what I had experienced and it is marvellous to know that God is real and true in our lives.

This is what I wanted to share with you and God let me do it.

Today's world in which we live now, is a world of brokenness. And it may be that you have lived with much of it. But God is showing us here that he won't leave us alone. He is taking care to protect us, to rescue us from the situation we may be in.

It was not a nice experience but what was beautiful is the learning I got from it and how profitable it has been in my spiritual life. This experience has let me be salt and light. It has permitted me to demonstrate that God shines in our lives and with my testimony, I can provide flavour to many beings who don't have it. This means to live the Kingdom of God in a broken world. Trust thoroughly in His power and strength towards us.

I was able to understand also that everything God permits to happen to us, is because He has a purpose for us. Romans 8:28, reads "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." It is marvellous to feel that God works with a purpose in our lives.

Definitely, time and again, God would speak to my life and would remind me that He had put me in this world with a purpose and that this experience would help my spiritual life and I could bless others through my testimony. What I experienced is that God is faithful and that whatever He promises to us, He will accomplish it according to His will.

The word of God reads in Psalm 91:14-16: "Because he hath set his love upon me therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation." This is exactly what God did to me.

Now, I can say that God's power is great, and that we don't have a way to be grateful for each one of His blessings towards us. For this reason, I want to make mine the words of Paul in Romans 8:35, 37-39 which read:"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

It was a very special blessing to have shared my testimony. It has been greatly useful to me to do it, since it is very dangerous to tell such a thing in my country due to the critical situation that it represents. But I wanted to tell it here because it could be profitable to many and we can freely express that we live in a broken world but God gives the answer. He is here and nothing nor nobody will separate us from Him. Because He has promised to be with us until the end of the world, in the meantime, we must be the light of the world and the salt of the earth!

Amen.