I arrived on December 8 of last year to El Salvador, my neighboring country to the north, with a similar history to that of my Nicaraguan people - with a war that left thousands dead or disappeared. These are hard-working and dignified people in search of daily bread. During the Season of Advent, the Emmanuel Baptist Church received me in affectionate and loving ways, and a sister generously gave me lodging in her home for the first two months. Now I live in the Youth Home, Cal Pipil in the Nahuatl language, a cultural project of the church.
December was not only a time of Advent and the celebration of Christmas, but also the expectations for the presidential election were very strong, and the electoral propaganda was everywhere. There were commentaries of hope, while others who spoke about the future of the country were disenchanted.
This was the time of the caravans of migrants that marked a historic milestone in the region related to the number of people walking toward the north - an image so significant that it ought to move us to reflection. The community of faith in which I serve is also a community of diaspora. During December and January, including even February, I have met members of the church who live in Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world. The Emmanuel Baptist Church is an extended community across borders and nations.
The same is true for the work of the Network of Peace, which has been adding persons and organizations with whom we share part of the mission, as in the search for peace with justice. Specifically this year we are dedicated to the Care of Creation and our Christian responsibility in the face of the effects of mining. It gives us much happiness to contribute through education to animate our churches, ecumenical organisms and interested persons to reflect about peace. Even for those coming out of territories in conflict or from depressed economies, they are excited by proposals that suggest concrete actions that can bring peace with justice.
Living together with the congregation has been a great opportunity to know the context, the needs of the people, as well as their gifts and talents - which are many! Thus, we are beginning our Missionary and Pastoral School for the theological and pastoral formation of missionary pastors, deacons, teachers of Bible school, and other leaders with much enthusiasm. In almost 30 years of being a teacher of Bible and of Theology, I always marvel at the wisdom of women and men dedicated to planting the seeds of the Reign of God, so much so that they give and, with much gratitude, they receive.
Commitment to peace with justice crosses all of my work as a volunteer because just like the Emmanuel Baptist Church, RECONPAZ has also founded its educational work on the impact and announcement of the good news, from the building of peace locally and globally. In contexts where violence takes away the rights of persons, the most vulnerable groups, such as children and youth, are confronted daily by different dangers. For this reason, education and faith are of first importance to finding hope in each project that is started.
"There is no road to peace, peace IS the road," said Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life...!” We assume this task with Global Ministries, and we invite you to make this pilgrimage together with us.
I know that there are many persons praying for these ministries around Latin America and in other places. I am very grateful for my family, my church, my friends, and sisters in different places for your support in this time of mission.
Aura (Violeta) Rocha-Areas serves with Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel, El Salvador. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS, and special gifts.