My SAM Story: The Cause of a Lifetime (Ceneida Carabali)

Welcome to My SAM Story! This is the first installment in a series of articles that will feature some incredible individuals who have faced difficulties but have proven that it is possible to overcome anything. The testimony below is by Sis. Ceneida Carabali who pastors a church in Cali, Colombia. I hope you find encouragement in her words.


I am a servant of the Lord and am blessed in being a blessing to others. I am the mother to five precious children. I was abandoned by my husband many years ago but my God has never abandoned me. He has proven to me that He is my Shepherd and therefore I shall not want.

For approximately 45 years I traveled with my husband in church planting adventures. We started many churches, churches that are still going strong today, but, sadly, he fell away from God.

I was left alone with my children, who were very young, but I knew that I had to continue to fulfill the calling the Lord Jesus had placed on my life.

I was called to ministry and, even though I had faced personal tragedy, I was going to keep doing what God had called me to do.

Along with my little children, I started a new church in the city of Cali, Colombia 33 years ago. By the grace of God, we still oversee this church today.

The little work that began in Cali has given rise to several other churches along with a great number of pastors who love and serve the Lord with all their hearts. We have trained new pastors at a rate of almost one per year. These ministers are preaching the gospel and working for God both within Colombia and around the world. With the help of the Lord we are expanding our church, as we neither have a pastoral residence (common in our churches here) nor classrooms for our Sunday School children, who are growing in number more and more with each passing day.

I am now 72 years old but I still believe that I have a work to do and, with the help of the Lord, I will accomplish it.

Bro. and Sis. Perdue, former missionaries to Colombia, have served as a great example to me. They are a great blessing to me — a living example that we can keep going in spite of our circumstances. To will is to do! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

I am glad to have Bro. and Sis. Guidry as our new missionaries to Colombia. They have blessed our church greatly. I am also grateful for my church in Bonilla Aragon in Cali, the church God has placed in my hands as administrator.

I encourage you to work as you never have before. Time is running out and the Lord is coming soon! What a pleasure we have to serve this great and merciful God — this God who has chosen me before the foundation of the world. I echo the words of my Lord in saying that this is my hour and His gospel is my purpose:

“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37)

The work I do for God is, for me, the cause of a lifetime. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to express a bit of the abundance in my heart. May everything I do give glory to God. I am undeserving of all He has done for me but I am so grateful.

May God bless you! I ask that you please keep our church in your prayers.

Cheri Grissom

Dr. Cheri Grissom is a passionate pursuer of all that is lovely. She is a missionary kid who seeks out adventure and serendipity in everyday life – especially if it involves shoes and/or chocolate. She is also a daydreamer, an eternal student, an occasional teacher, and a devoted bookworm. She has served in music/media ministries at her church but currently she serves on the UPCI SAM Committee as the Educational Resources Coordinator and Editor of the “Flying Solo” blog. She also serves on the Texas District Singles Committee. When she is not pursuing her love of words and music she can be found teaching the most amazing students in the world at Texas Bible College where she serves as Dean of Christian Education and Instructor of Missions and Christian Education. Visit her on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.


    • Shelley Kimmel

      I am singles leader @ Eastside Apostolic church in Bellevue WA. I am having trouble getting our singles involved in activities. I would like to also start having a singles convention here in Washington, to bring singles from other cities together. If someone could give me ideas, I would really appreciate it!

      Lord bless,

      Shelley Kimmel

      • Cheri Grissom

        Hi, Shelley! Thanks for your comment. I will pass your information on to someone who can give you some support in this area. Thanks for your burden for this ministry.

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