Testimonies and Stories of Participants at Shalom Center, Chile

2008

The Shalom Center is an oasis in the desert, a rest for the tired walker, water for the thirsty.   It is the spring where God grants blessing for all who visit this place.   Each time that I have the opportunity to come, God says to me: expect me, I will be here.  Thanks to each person who labors to make all this possible.

Tatiana, Romeral Church

During the days that I have spent in the Shalom Center, I have been enormously blessed; all the times and experiences I have enjoyed here have nourished my roots.  In this leaders training course at Shalom Center I have tested the greatness of God's love, I have been enriched by listening to young people like myself and who have been in situations very like mine in various parts of the world.   Today is the last day and I don't want to leave.  In this place I feel that I have encountered myself again; I have known God better and that fills me with joy.  I have been able to understand more intimately the purpose God has for my life.  Without doubt, God has given me a beautiful gift in these days.  In one way or another God is making me grow.  I understand that although things don't turn out as I expect, God's hand will always be present guiding my life.  Everything is according to God's will.  Surrounded by a marvelous paradise, the trees embraced us, their leaves cheered on our activities, the birds and the insects sang with us and laughed with our happiness.  I simply don't have words to explain this marvel.  "Thanks for loving me so much."  Ha! I went walking along a beautiful trail and felt God's peace; it's when I most felt God's presence in my life.  It was a beautiful trail; it cleaned me and nourished me.  I wept as I felt the sky, the water, and the mountain so near me.  "Forgive me for not awakening sooner to the paradise you have created for me.  While I have life, I will sing of your love."

Thank you, Lord, I love you very much.

Elizabeth, San Javier Church

After a lengthy and weary trip, but with a lot of expectations, I arrived in a beautiful country with so much tradition, but above all, the gift of a people who continue to surprise me.  I don't know how it came about, but it's God's truth, after traveling far and under the sun, I found myself in a special place, unique . . . a place of re-encounter.   And so it was: I have re-encountered my Lord.  He has spoken to me in the wind, through the twitter of the birds, and from the waterfalls.   Once again I am able to recognize how great He is.

Each workshop, each study, even the disappointments have banished the doubts I had, have caused me to loose all my fears and made me remember that as a leader I cannot weep, tire, or give up.

I am full, very full of Shalom, and it would be egoistic to want to stay here in this quiet time with my God.   But I know that I have a responsibility to carry this Shalom to others and I know now that all that I have been given cannot remain with me.   But yes, Shalom will always remain in my heart.  I would like to have the words of a poet to express what it has meant to me, but I am simply able to say THANKS.

Mercedes, Christian Congregational Church, Mazatlan, Mexico

I may not have all the time I want or need here, but I know that I am not going to leave as I arrived.   I had many difficulties, but now I understand that it was worthwhile to come and experience this training.  And this is what I will proclaim for everyone else, I will say: If you have the opportunity to be at Shalom, take the chance, because God is at Shalom and invites you to an appointment with God in God's house.

I am sick, well, that's what the doctors say; but I continue to be the same Victor of yesterday, today, and always.  You may say that you don't understand; it's that I have CANCER.  But if you are surprised by what I tell you, be more surprised, because God cured me at Shalom.  I want this to strengthen your faith and your spiritual growth.  I will remember very well what Martin Luther said: "If I know that the end of the world comes tomorrow, I still would plant a tree today."

Victor, Pentecostal Church of Chile

The Shalom Center has meant a genuine place of peace for me, a space where I have been able to renew my relationship to God, with nature, with my peers, and with myself.   This is my third retreat and each time that I participate, God surprises me in a least expected way.  As daughter of pastors, I believe this experience is necessary to be able to join others and share our needs.  It has formed so many ties of friendship that in time are fortifying and also healing of many of the wounds that we share within us.

Carolyn, Pentecostal Church of Chile

I was not prepared for this astonishing week.   I had no idea that it would be so perfect.   The theme, the trees, the one that I love . . . I support the bio-diversity and the ecology.  The devotionals and the Bible texts speak of nature.  Our walks in these beautiful woods with people who know the trees and the plants restore me.  The Shalom Path moved me.  Every day I pray that the Lord will grant His peace both to my heart and to the world.  Sometimes I despair and think that there is no hope for the world.  But as I learned here, I can share peace with a hug, a smile, and a word of support.  I want to do more of this with my family and the students with whom I work.  In my 61 years, this is the nearest I have ever felt to God.   Thanks.

Mary, Monson Congregational Church

"Caring, sharing, laughing, loving"

We share everything

Laughter, smiles

tears

of joy

Tears

of work.

We laugh at our

mistakes.

We laugh so much that

it's painful.

We share our hopes,

our plans,

our love, our work,

even our colds.

We share the beauty

that surrounds us,

hugs our souls

our being,

the creation

of God.

Our sweat

and our tears

mix

and we return as One

in God.

Astonishing love

resounding laughter

in the glory of

God's creation.

We simply need

to sit

in solitude

and embrace

what God has done

and given to us.

The song of the winds

the birds

the bees

comfort us anew

and come near us.

Wallace, First Congregational Church of West Brookfield, Massachusetts