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Showing posts from 2003
Greetings from CPT Colombia,A couple of days ago a disabled beggar was assassinated at noon in front of the restaurant where he has begged for years. His assailants were on bikes and without even any kind of masks. They got away on bicycles. The newspaper said all who saw it would not say who did it. It is supposed it was done out of the Nazi philosophy that those whom “the powers that be” think cannot contribute to society or who have the wrong philosophy should just be eliminated. This is known as social cleansing. This made me think that I need to watch that this kind of thinking does not take hold in me. Are there times when I think that way about others?How easily evil can sneak into our minds. Lord, help.Here are some interesting things about our life:Because this is mosquito season, when we go to the Opon we always take a swatter, a small towel or a shirt, with us. If the mosquitoes are bad we are continually swatting them while in conversation. It is just an acceptable thing t…
Hello. Here's another light in the darkness.
In a region called Micoahumado, the Paramilitaries and Guerillas have been fighting for control. The violence was so bad that people were considering displacing themselves (abandoning their farms and homes, like over 456,000 people did last year in Colombia). But they had a public meeting and a priest asked how many were willing to risk staying. 100 persons put up their hands. From this the Protestant and Catholic churches united with the community to begin to forge a space for peace. They formed a community organization for peace, life, and justice with a mission to look for a peaceful solution to this tense situation.
They began by seeking out the leaders of the Paramilitaries and Guerrillas (even though it is against the law to meet with any of the illegal armed groups) and asking and telling them that they could no longer fight in the populated areas of Micoahumado. One of the Guerrilla leaders said in a newspaper interview, "I have never s…
Hello.

Here are some things that have been exciting me in the development of a relationship between the Protestant Church and Christian Peacemaker Team.In a lot of ways I imagine developing church relationships is not as exciting to hear about as our encounters in the Opon.However, it seems to be something that I am being called to do, and I have come to see developing these relationships as an important part to building peace here. I hope you can appreciate it. The Team here has been trying to do this for over a year and a half now. So they have really emphasized to me that this is a great, important, and historic event in the life of CPT and the churches here. Peter Stucky, the President of the ColombianMennoniteChurch, told me, ¨We have been waiting a long time for this; this is an historic event. ¨ November 21 and 22, 2003 I attended a protestant Ecumenical seminar on Biblical Peacemaking, which I mentioned in an earlier letter. We broke into small groups to answer questions regard…
Interesting Stories
Greetings from Barranca, ColombiaHere are some interesting stories from the recent past.A few months ago a Paramilitary Commander came to our house in Barranca. We were very hesitant to let him in, for we feared he might want to hurt us is some way. However, after some conversation in which he said that he had come to tells us thanks for our work in the Opon, we let him in.He than proceeded to take over an hour to tell us that our talking to him and his soldiers had convinced them to reconsider their being a part of the Paramilitaries. He and a number of his paramilitary soldiers quit the Paramilitaries several months ago and have joined a local Protestant church. He remarked that he was glad to replace his guns with his new weapons of a Bible and some books as a part of his mission for others to seek the way of Jesus. It sounded almost like a direct quote from Ephesians 6.He was very glad for their new life with the Lord, despite the danger they faced of possible t…
A "Day Off" Greetings,

I had a refreshing day off in the mountains of Bucaramango. I stayed in a Catholic religious community, a very quiet place which overlooked some huge mountains. Just watching the mountains does something good for my soul it seems. Big clouds rolled in over the mountains which brought rain in the night. The many different kinds of beautiful flowers which are cultivated here just delighted my being. Quiet service is a central theme of this lay community, exemplified in this saying I saw there, “One who does not live to serve, does not have a life worth living.” The mountains, the flowers, and the quiet service atmosphere renewed my spirit.

While I was still home, I came across some literature in Spanish by and about the Peace Pilgrim, a woman who had spend 30 years walking across the USA sharing about peace. The pamphlet gives suggestions about seeking inner peace and global peace and talks about how they are related. I had asked a Colombian Christian Peac…
Embassy VisitHello

As part of my orientation I went with a delegation to visit Matthew (Mat) Johnson, the US Embassy Human Rights officer. To my surprise we were in agreement with him on many things he had to say. He wasn't the demon I unconsciously expected to encounter. Although I come from a position that generally distrusts anyone from the US government, I am grateful for the grace to be able to see the human being beneath the position.

Here's some things Matthew shared, many of which I found we agreed upon.

According Sindicato de Escuela Nacional de Laborales, a reputable national labor organization, there has been a 68% decrease in labor homicide under the Uribe government in the last year. He added this is a great improvement, but that there is still a long way to go, with which I wholeheartedly agree. Matthew said that Barranca is clearly controlled by the Paramilitaries, and that there are clear links between Paramilitaries and Colombian government forces. I was surprise…
Appeal Hello,
This is not an easy thing for me to do, especially since only 2 months ago I made an appeal for my own support. So I hope you'll be understanding.

Like many organizations, CPT has been running behind on donations this year, and to date it has spent (between its US and Canada offices) $ 100,000 more than it has taken in.

Yesterday we had to spend $ 276.00 to repair our boat motor, which is hard to do in light of the above. But the lives of many farmers and their wives and children are at stake. So how can we say no to the repairs even if it was a hard bullet to bite?

So to those that are able and feel moved to support Christian Peacemaker team's ministry, I want to ask you for your financial contribution. Please make tax deductible checks out to Christian Peacemaker Teams and send to:
CPT
P.O. Box 6508 Chicago , IL. 60680

Jim Fitz

PS. Could you include that your response was because of Jim Fitz´s appeal. Thanks so much for your consideration on this.

To maintain one US So…

Colombia Reports

Greetings:

I am in and around the city for a few days. Yesterday we went to the Opon to
cheer at 2 soccer games between the communities. We were there to give them
some security, for they fear the Paras or Guerrillas could use the occasion to
force them to agree to help them in some way, like pay a tax on all the goods
they transport or to bring them supplies from the city. They have done this
before. It is hard to say what you really feel when a group of armed people is
threatening you and your village with their guns. Erin and Pierre stayed the
night at the community's request just to insure that nothing happened later in
the evening.

We live in a house with 3 bedrooms, a long hall, a patio front and back,
kitchen, dining room and living room. Each of us hand washes most of our
clothes. I like that, because it's good exercise for one thing, and it also
feels good to be doing manual work to take care of ourselves. This is a bit of
my simple life philosophy coming through. We use almost no …

Colombia Reports

Orientation Hello,

It was great to see old friends again in the Opon the area where we work,
and sense their true gratefulness for each of us to be there. I sense anew
the importance of our presence for their peace of mind and the security it
means to them. It all makes us feel needed. This makes facing the risks and
dangers, 100´s of mosquitoes outside my mosquito tent waiting for me, the
heat at 95° F, the humidity near 100%, mud most everywhere and such in this
primitive situation worth it all. They are a strong and persevering people
to live in these conditions.

Our first day there Betty told us that guerrillas had walked past her place
two times the day before. They ask her to give them some food, and though she
doesn't want to help any of the armed groups, out of fear for what they
might do, she gave them a bag of food. She shared her fear that with any of
the armed groups being in the area she is afraid that a fire fight between
the different groups will catch her, her family, or other v…

Colombia Reports

Arrival Hello.

We got here last night. All went well, except they hesitated with Erin's visa. After five minutes or so they gave her the OK. We don't know what that was all about.

We had a good time of sharing and prayer at Reba Place, our sister community. It was encouraging to sense their interest and support.

I am here in Bogota till sometime Thursday.

We had a very nice welcome by the brother and sister Mennonites here in Colombia last night. They are very supportive of Christian Peacemaker Teams' work here.

Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers for us and the work here.

Jim Fitz
Pointers from CPT Congress
Hello,
Here are some gems or pointers that I picked up at the Christian Peacemaker Teams [CPT] Congress last weekend. I thought many of you might find them helpful.
When I was sharing with a CPT steering committee member about some thoughts on prayer, she had a unique insight. I told her that I had come to feel that in a lot of ways prayer is just taking the time to say the words.
Its effectiveness is not dependent very much on how we say the words, or our state of mind, how much we believe etc., but on the great listener we have, God. She said, "Life is 99% just showing up." In other words, prayer is a lot just being available.
Another person was explaining about how their church is involved in a program of study that is based on the premise that if we want to grow, we need to give our time to practice and study. The web site is www.justfaith.org We don't learn to do anything well without concentrated practice and study. The implication of that fo…

Colombia Reports

Introduction Letter
Jim Fitz is a member of Plow Creek Mennonite Church, in Tiskilwa, Illinois. He works full time in peacemaking, which includes about 3 months a year with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Barrancabermeja, (Barranca for short) Colombia. In the Barranca area, CPT there provides protection from the threats to and killing of various armed groups by being a nonviolent presence and witness for about 100 farm families. Jim will be in Barranca area Oct.1- Dec. 22.

During the application process for Christian Peacemaker Teams, one of the first things that the CPT interviewer said to Jim, " Do you realize this is a very dangerous situation and do you have a bunch of people who can pray for you?" This gave Jim some hesitation but upon some reflection, he felt that he had a church full of people who would pray for him. He also felt a clear call to this work. He felt he was ready to try to risk his life for peace in the same way soldiers risk their li…
Visa in hand

Hello, well we are really celebrating, Thanks again for all your prayers, I sense in a way we prayed them in. 3 of us got visas, Erin and I fly on Monday, 10/ 6 around 8 AM. Please keep praying for the 2 Canadian visas for Pierre and Steward. I sense they will come, Bogota has said they are ready to issue them tho a few of the papers need up dated so we should know in about 2 weeks. more in a little bit, Jim
Colombia Visa Update
Hello,
I was very pleased with the meetings with the Senators and our Representative about our visas. The offices of Senator Durbin and Representative Weller both agreed to write letters on our behalf to sent to the Colombian government and to include with our application that we will submit personally on 9/8 at the Chicago Colombian Consulate. Evidently many of the about 400 persons I asked to pray did so. THANK YOU!
I now ask your prayers for 9/8 and thereafter until we get an answer from the Consulate. If our visas come soon enough I plan to leave for Colombia about Sept. 30 and stay until Dec. 20.
I want to take this opportunity to report regarding my fund raising. Because of the generosity of many of you, I have raised about $6,500 to date. I need about $4,000 yet. If you know of someone who might be interested in the opportunity to support my peacemaking, could you please share a description of my work with them and ask them if they would like to see a …
Pray for Visas
Hello,
As most of you know I hope to go to Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams [CPT] for all but three months starting Sept.30. This will provide protection for about 80 farm families from the Paramilitaries, Guerrillas, and Colombian Army and Navy. All these armed groups are fighting each other for control of the people, land, oil, and
coca where the farmers live. And so the armed groups are constantly suspicious that the farmers are helping their opponents. And we are able to prevent the killings and threats from the armed groups on the farmers
from happening with our presence there and with the important help of your prayers.

As you might remember a year ago the Colombian government started making it hard for us to get visas and started deporting CPTers. So last fall CPT put on a campaign to pray for and pressure the Colombian government and US government Representatives and Senators to change this, so that we could again more easily be in Colombia. As a result …
I think it important to give our attention to what our soldiers are thinking . Here are some important thoughts. Please share with friends,

A U.S. soldier in Iraq wonders: 'How many more must die?'

Peoria Journal Star, August 24, 2003

By TIM PREDMORE

"Shock and Awe" were the words used to describe the awesome display of power the world was to view upon the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was to be an up-close, dramatic display of military strength and advanced technology within the arsenal of the United States and the United Kingdom's military.

But as a soldier preparing for the invasion of Iraq, the words "shock and awe" rang deeper within my psyche. These two great superpowers were about to break the very rules they demand of others. Without the consent of the United Nations, and ignoring the pleas of their own citizens, the United States and Britain invaded Iraq.

"Shock and Awe"? Yes, the words correctly described the emotional impact I f…
COLOMBIA: Letter from Carol Rose (edited for length)

The week before last I visited a couple of villages that have been affected
by US sponsored fumigations. While almost everyone agrees the growing of
illicit crops in large amounts (coca) is problematic, the devastation
caused by the generalized spraying of herbicides is devastating. I do
mean generalized spraying--over homes and yards, over food crops, over
schools and water sources. People are sick. Their legitimate sources of
income wiped out. And the coca recovers with relative ease. So fumigation
leaves communities even more dependant on the growing of coca.

Three weeks ago a couple of men from the communities along the Opon River
where CPT has our primary work were disappeared and are believed dead at
this point. We're working on a worship service to help the community
grieve. It's particularly hard when you're not sure about what happened
and you have the armed group's reactions to worry about. This one was
probably paramili…
Sharing #7
The gift of the enemy

The gift of the enemy is the theme of the 3 seminars I will be doing next week at the Cornerstone music and seminar Festival 7/1-5/03. Perhaps one of the most important question before us for our present time in history is how we will embrace the call to "Love our enemies",

A good litmus test to evaluate our religious and political leaders is how do they embrace this hard teaching of Jesus.

Jesus calls us to love our enemies, in order for us to be children of God, for God has it rain and shine on the good and evil and just and unjust alike. A point of solidarity with our enemies is in our common evil. We like they are a mix of good and evil, just and unjust. As we come to recognize these negative aspects of ourselves , do you notice how we tolerate and accept these things in ourselves? When we see this common ground with our enemies, then we can come to see our enemies sin much more objectively and even come to look at them with compass…
Are our leaders ripe for Peace?? This has been a question I’ve been
pondering lately.

As I look at recent history, I see a pattern in Israeli leaders, one that
I remember particularly starting with Begin in the 1970's. He started out
very warrior--like, giving the impression he was going to straighten things
out by using strong military force. He was going to fix those Palestinians once
and for all. But after a few years he gradually began to sing a different
tune. He came to see that military might just was not getting anywhere and began
to question if all the bloodshed was worth anything. This all brought him
to the point of talking with Arafat, which led to reconciliation that
developed into an actual friendship between the two leaders.

As you might remember, Begin was then assassinated, after which Arafat
spent over an hour with Begin’s widow consoling her. She has remarked
about the miracle it was when she came to appreciate Arafat and his
compassion through this whole experience.

Similar t…

Donate

Thank you for your interest in being a part of bringing peace and justice to this hurting world.

Christian Peacemaker Teams policy is that volunteers such as myself raise all of their own funds. Therefore, I depend on donations in order to give presentations to increase hope and encourage people to do their part to bring peace and justice to the world.

I invite you to take part in this effort by praying for peace and/or making a donation.

Make checks out to Jim's Peacemaking and send to:
Jim's Peacemaking
723 Seward St
Evanston, IL 60202

You can pay online:
You can also donate with Paypal via a credit card or bank account .








Ps. Again I ask you to please consider supporting this vital work to bring peace and justice to this hurting world. Thanks, Jim

Due to present situation, donations are currently NOT tax deductible.  But donations are greatly appreciated to keep this peacemaking going.


Hello, here is a letter I sent to some newspapers, that articulates where my peacemaking journey has taken me to this point. It was printed in at least one of the local papers
To the editor
Peacemaker views Iraq war
"Did you see all that?" he asked, his eyes filled with tears. "Did you see that little baby girl? I carried her body and buried it as best I could but I had no time. It really gets to me to see children being killed like this, but we had no choice."
Martin's distress was in contrast to the bitter satisfaction of some of his fellow marines as they surveyed the scene. "The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," said Corporal Ryan Dupre. "I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."
The London Times
March 30, 2003
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-628258,00.html (free registration required)
This…
Jim's Sharing #5

Warm greetings, friends,

I just returned from seven days with our sister community Valle Nuevo in El Salvador. This visit included visiting with friends of many years, and also seeing signs of new growth.

One of the most significant things was to find out about the big change in their internal relationships. It seems for years now they have been having trouble with bickering amongst themselves about how to proceed with titling the 265 acres of land we helped them buy. The bickering had made any progress almost impossible. Seems an act of God that they have been able to draw together the many factions of their leadership and come to agreement on major decisions like the land titling process. Many confirmed this new direction. At this point there have not been any concrete decisions, though things look more hopeful than they have in a long time.

A major surprise to me was their concern about the war in Iraq,
even though it doesn't directly affect them. Many, man…
Jim Fitz and Jim Foxvog of Plow Creek helped get this ad run in the local papers.
War with Iraq? According to top army and intelligence off cials, attacking
Iraq is a bad idea. It won’t make us safer. It’s a distraction from the war on terrorism. It’ll
alienate our closest allies. According to United Nations estimates, a war with Iraq will kill up
to 500,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, and cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $1,600,000,000,000
Tough weapons inspections can disarm Saddam Hussein without costing a single life. That’s
why over 90 U.S. city councils are saying:

Inspections Work.
War Won’t.

“Successful disarmament of Iraq
is possible without Baghdad’s
active cooperation...”
Hans Blix Chief UN Weapons Inspector
Feb. 7, 2003 Reuters

“All the generals see it the same way, and all the others who
have never fired a shot, and are hot to go to war, see it
another... We are about to do something that will ignite a
fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started.”
Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni For…
Hello Friends #3
Greetings. I know that this letter is coming to you fairly soon after the last letter. However, the urgency of the war situation has made me feel I need to get this out to you; it is to encourage us to commit ourselves to pray for peace. Your honest feed back on these sharings are always appreciated.




The dialog which we held last Sunday, titled “War? Peace? What Do We Do Now?” went really well. The participants felt so good about it that when a 70-year-old vet suggested having another discussion on Sunday March 2, only positive comments were offered in spite of people’s busy schedules. The dialog was held in an Open Space format. The results were not quite what I had hoped for, but I understand that Open Space formats usually have the outcomes that the participants had been hoping for and not what the leadership tried to direct. If you want to find out more about how Open Space works go to http://www.openspaceworld.com/users_guide.htm

Below is a proposal t…
Friends #2

Hello, again. I’ve decided to try to write short updates of my peacemaking work every two-three weeks, as a way of keeping friends like you informed. If at any point you need to use the delete button because you are overwhelmed with e-mail, rest assured I will not be offended; I use it a lot myself. So, you can expect to receive a letter like this every few weeks.

One thing that stands out for me lately is how central the teaching “ to love our enemies” is to peacemaking and the teachings of Jesus. This has led me to put George Bush and each of his cabinet members on my prayer list. Praying for them has been transforming me so that I can see them more as brothers and sisters and less as the evil opposition, as I previously have often seen them.

Along with this has come the insight that we really all have the same goal in mind--peace--though we differ on the means. This has led me to think that there might be a space in which we can be in solidarity with each other. Th…
Peacemaking Report #1

Hello Friends,

This last month I participated in an intense training session for those who are planning to be part of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

This is some sharing from my experience during the training that might interest you. Training was very intense and full. Much of the info was just introductory because of limited time, just giving us tastes of the subjects. We were encouraged to do more study later.

One topic was racism. Training was located in a "rough" neighborhood -- police even stopped and informed us this was not a safe place to be. I become aware that when I walked down the street and I passed a stranger of color I often had a certain fear that was absent when the stranger was white. After going to church at the First Church of the Brethren, which is 80% black, I often asked for a ride to the training center. I began to notice how I always asked whites, so the last time I asked a black man. He …