Greetings from Bogotá, where we’re 2600 meters closer to the stars. 2018 has proven to be one of the busiest and richest times in my ministry in Colombia. Let me share a couple of the highlights with you.
What a joy it has been to begin workshops on conflict transformation and restorative justice at the Icononzo FARC Reintegration Community. The first conflict transformation workshop was held in Icononzo, Tolima on September 4 and was a great success. We had a total of 16 participants, equally distributed between former FARC guerrilla combatants and civilian “receptor community” leaders. These workshops are being facilitated by the Cafepaz Peace Studies Center in the hopes of helping facilitate as smooth a reentry process as possible for both the ex-combatants and the civilian community they are now joining (many of whom were victims of the armed conflict).Read more
A Call for Hope, for the Caring of Life and Continued Peacebuilding
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
JUSTAPAZ is an organization of the Mennonite Church of Colombia, with more than 26 years’ experience accompanying Christian churches, community organizations and victims of the armed conflict, strengthening nonviolent community peacebuilding processes, on which human rights and peace with justice are built.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Prayers for Colombia:
Today we pray for the country of Colombia and our partners in mission there. Guide them as they continue to work for the full implementation of the peace accords that have brought terrible fighting to an end. Encourage them as they prepare for a new presidential administration that has spoken out against the peace accords. Show them a way forward for the peace talks between the government and the ELN guerrilla.
May your compassion, oh Lord, be known through the work of our partners as they minister to the millions of internally displaced persons in Colombia, as they work for the reintegration of former combatants into civilian life and as they speak out for restorative justice and reconciliation even in the midst of ongoing violence. May your healing touch be felt in their lives and seen through their ministries.
We thank you for the witness of Justapaz and of the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia. Watch over them and give them strength as they witness to your peace with justice in Colombia.Read more
Colombians went to the polls this past Sunday to elect their new President. Since Juan Manuel Santos cannot run for another term, the ballots included candidates that represented the wide spectrum of political ideologies in this South American country. As they failed to elect a president on the first round (neither candidate could get the required 50% plus one number of votes to win the first round), two main candidates will dispute the second round to be held on next June 17th. Iván Duque, a right wing conservative, took the largest share of the vote on Sunday with 39%. Gustavo Petro – a leftist leader and former mayor of Bogotá, came second with 25% of the votes. In a close third place, Sergio Fajardo, a more moderate candidate, received 23% of electoral support. It remains to be seen if Fajardo, a former mayor of Medellín, will back Petro in the second round.Read more
The Peace Accords signed in Colombia by the Government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC more than a year ago is now in a crisis. Several setbacks, breaches of trust and other situations, for example the imprisonment of one of the guerrilla leaders, put the peace agreement into dangerous territory, just as an ecumenical delegation affirmed its accompaniment on a recent visit to Colombia. Global Ministries as well as the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the World Student Christian Federation, the Cuban Council of Churches and Colombian partner, the Interchurch Dialogue for Peace, visited Dr. Patricia Linares and Dr. Xiomara Balanta, President and Vice-President of the Special Court for Peace respectively, on April 26th, 2018. On its visit, the delegation affirmed the need to fulfill the Peace Accords in every aspect, especially in respect to the controversies regarding the Colombian Civil War, by using its established mechanisms of peace, justice and reconciliation so that the violence that war in the past is not repeated.Read more
Greetings once again from Bogotá, Colombia. Looking back at 2017, as I write this first Newsletter of 2018, reminds me just what an important year it was for Colombia. As always, it was filled with many challenges, but also much inspiration and hope. I am truly blessed to be able to engage in the ministry of peace, justice, and reconciliation with my Colombian colleagues at this time.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Luke 23:33-43
Prayers for Colombia:
Today we pray for the country of Colombia and our partners in mission there. Over the past year they have been actively engaged with the implementation of the peace accords between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas that brought an end to fifty years of war. We pray that their calls for peace and justice may be heard.
We also pray for the ongoing peace negotiations with the ELN guerrillas and for an end to the continued violence that has claimed the lives of dozens of human rights workers and community leaders over the past year. We pray for the safety of our colleagues and for the protection of all Colombians.
At times we all feel like voices crying out in the wilderness. Again this Advent season we long for the cleansing waters of baptism and for winding paths to be made straight. Help us to walk your paths with eager anticipation of the coming kingdom at each turn in the road, from Colombia to the United States and around the world. Amen.Read more
Global Ministries supports peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army
Various places around the world, October 1, 2017
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN
President of Colombia
NICOLÁS RODRÍGUEZ BAUTISTA
Commander of the National Liberation Army - ELN
“It is the nature of the church to help on issues such as reconciliation, forgiveness and repentance. The churches in Colombia also have the support of the international community and I’m here representing this support from the World Council of Churches.”
-Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches (WCC)
“For decades Colombia has yearned for peace, but, as Jesus teaches, two sides approaching each other to dialogue is not enough; it has also been necessary to involve many more actors in this dialogue aimed at healing sins. “But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you.” (Mt. 18:16a)
"And forgive us of our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." Matthew 6:12
How many times have I prayed these very words without realizing the magnitude of what they asked of God and for us as individuals. Many times, when I ask for forgiveness I am referring to those times when I have been selfish or when I have been insensitive towards others, but it was on this pilgrimage to Colombia that I finally came to a more profound appreciation for this prayer. It is one thing to forgive those who may have been selfish, insensitive or have lied, or even stolen, but it is quite another to forgive those who killed your loved ones - your father, mother, husband, brother, sister or child. Yet, this was the reality of what the Global Ministries delegation, which visited Colombia from May 16-22, witnessed as we sought to understand the peace process in Colombia.Read more