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
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 regarding peacemaking, using texts on political change from I Samuel 8, Romans 13, John 11 and John 18. From these texts we did a study of the history of the relationship of church and state and how it related to our present day world and particularly Colombia. The big question was, “Where does each have jurisdiction?” One of our conclusions was that the church’s role is to watch that the state is serving the good of society. When it is not, the church should be a prophetic voice to call it back to do that.
The format, in which they came up with their own answers, really engaged the participants. Toward the end of the time, individuals spontaneously began making little speeches about how they appreciated the weekend and all the good things they learned. There was spiritual electricity moving around; people were really excited. One sister said, ¨I had a lot of questions when I was urged by my pastor to attend, thinking I wasn’t interested in politics. But now I see that it is part of the Christian call, to get involved in peacemaking and building a better society. This is being part of bringing in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.¨ A brother said, “We as churches have always worked alone on our own little thing, but we need to unite and work together to build the kingdom here and now in practical ways.¨
Since we were together for two days away from any of our work, the workshop enabled us to get to know each other quite well. I shared my photo albums with many of the participants; this gave them a much clearer picture of our work in the Opon. It was this sharing of photos that moved David Quiroqa to say, ¨I want to go with you to the Opon before you leave.¨ I developed several good friendships during this time. I also shared my journey to CPT; this sharing helped us connect with each other.
November 30, 2003: I attended the Baptist church, and continued to build relationships there. I was impressed with the authenticity of the people there; they had a lot of personal interaction in Sunday School and member participation in the worship. While I was there, Eberthy decided on the spot to go along to the Opon on Thursday. Also she took both Peace Pilgrim’s books and said she hoped to use the coloring book in the Sunday School during December. She had a real interest and enthusiasm for promoting the peace message. She also took the literature on violence in the family from the Personaria, which I had gotten at the Bizarrte. I also met Fabio, who is a director of a Christian School, and he took me to see the school grounds. He said they would be interested in our coming and speaking to the local community about peace. If they buy the school ground, they want to name it Martin Luther King School.
Dec. 4 ,2003 Today, Pierre, Erin, and I went with David Quiroqa, the Bapist Pastor, and Eberthy Jimenez
(David´s sister-in-law) to do a Protestant church visit to the Opon. In each of the homes we visited, we were welcomed heartily. People expressed a genuine gratefulness for the visit and the spiritual orientation that David often did. He often inquired about their lives and would use that as a springboard to connect his message to their lives. He pointed out from these inquiries that the Opon people themselves are a good example. He shared that his vision was for them to form an ecumenical church and for them to develop their own leadership. The conversation was often filled with lots of good humor. Many times he shared personal experiences from his own life. He made a point that he was not there to preach a certain denomination’s doctrine, but to encourage the development of people’s personal relationship to God. He said we need to develop our human potential, which is one of the great lacks in our society. He often sought out each of the persons present, even the children, and tried to connect to each of them in some way, particularly those that might have been on the edge of the conversation. We ended each visit with a joint prayer which he asked a different person to lead each time.
Sometimes he was bit more forward than I would have felt comfort with in asking people where they were with their relationship with God and praying. Eberthy said ,”Praying is just like talking to your dad.” But over all they were a Godsend for this visit. It was more than anything we could have hoped for in regard to a pastor who is connected to the people. He and Eberthy have real gifts in this area. .
Thanks for your interest in the work here.