Bivian Ariza is a native of Colombia who, in the company of her young son Lucas, first came to YWAM Minneapolis in 2011. While participating as a student in the Discipleship Training School (DTS), there awoke within Bivian a deep desire to serve the Lord in ministry. At first, however, Bivian doubted whether this longing would ever become a reality. “I always tended to focus on the obstacles,” she reflects, “and not on the opportunities.”
After her DTS, Bivian returned to her successful marketing business in Colombia. But in 2016, God drew her back to YWAM Minneapolis once again, now as a student in the School of Ministry Development (SOMD). The desire to do something for God now burned as a fire in her heart. “With the help and support of all the people at YWAM Minneapolis” she recalls, “ I began to see that my dream could become a reality. There is nothing impossible for God, and He desires that the dreams He placed in our hearts come to pass. But we need to take the first step.”
It was upon her return to Colombia in August of 2016 that the Misión Zebra was born. This charitable foundation would be dedicated to proclaiming God’s word to the far corners of the earth, launching sustainable aid projects to bring hope and sustenance to the most vulnerable of the poor. The first outreach would take place in the inhospitable, arid region of Northeast Colombia known as La Guajira (Waa-hira), home to an indigenous tribe called the Wayú. Plagued by violence and poverty, the suffering of the Wayú is exasperated by the scarcity of water. In the past eight years, over 8,000 people have died, and 34,000 are presently suffering from malnutrition. For every 1,000 children born among the Wayú, 55 will die before the age of 5.
With her team of 14 doctors and development workers, Bivian set out from Bogotá on December 8, 2016. In their midst was YWAM Minneapolis staff member John “Pablo” Scarbrough who is trained to drill ultra-low-cost wells in the most arid environments. After 15 hours of travel by plane, car and military boats, the team arrived at Punta Gallinas, the abode of 130 Wayú families who, in Bivian’s words, “were abandoned, forgotten, and submerged in despair.”
Over a four day period, the team delivered 150 aid packages comprised of medicine, Bibles, new clothing, toys, and water. Behind the aid tent, John Scarbrough labored assiduously, utilizing locally purchased materials to open a well that would provide clean drinking water for over 500 people . As the team doctors performed their medical examinations, two children were identified as being in a critical state of malnutrition. Wasting no time, Bivian called a national media outlet located in the regional capital of Riohacha. It wasn’t long before a military helicopter arrived with medics and a camera crew. Not only were the lives of Santiago (age 2) and Isaac (age 4) saved, but millions of Colombians became aware of the plight of Wayús, catching a glimpse of the work that Bivian’s team was carrying out. ( To see the news story, click here )
Bivian concludes, “God raised up this team of volunteers to reach a forgotten people so that we could bear witness to His immense love, and so that we could demonstrate, once again, that nothing is impossible for Him. A community of Wayús that once lived in despair, under the shadow of witchcraft and superstition, has now seen what the hand of the living God can do!”