Skip to main content

Hope on the Opon

Hello, friends,
I just returned from three days with the Opon communities which we accompany.

For the first time ever, people from the five gathered communities began sharing specifics about the fears and problems which the ongoing civil war causes them. They told us that the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and government forces threaten their lives, steal their bananas, corn, fish, and other farm products, and disrupt health and education services.

They then shared about the things that make them feel safe: the presence of CPT, the development organizations, the government agencies, and, in the last year, the churches. Next, they talked about what they can do about the fears and problems. The one thing that stood out was that their one strength was to unite to form a wall against the armed groups.

I felt very privileged to witness that uniting taking place during those two days, in the many obvious good conversations, in sharing while eating (see the photo below) together and in talk in the not-so-formal sessions. A good example of this was the vigil for peace, which the farmers organized. This vigil went into the night with singing, praying, and preaching till past midnight. Another example was the teasing, joking, and laughing heartily and loudly at one am. Many of the participants were people who hardly knew each other before that day. These people were mostly in their 40`s or 50`s. The fact that this gathering was held without alcohol was another very good aspect of it, and this showed they were doing it from their heart.

Six months ago there were two communities uniting; today there were five and they have the vision to gather three more into the group eventually. Three years ago, they were in many ways just individual families trying to farm in peace. CPT`s presence has had a major part in providing enough space so they could begin dialogue with each other. It seems that the armed groups want to keep them in disunity and living in fear so that the people are dependent on the armed groups. This uniting is breaking down the power of the fear that the armed groups have been promoting.

I am very grateful for a Colombian Church organization that provided the funds and facilitated the gathering as a part of its peace work. One thing that was so good about the gathering was that farmers themselves were doing the sharing and giving the leadership. Things were not perfect but the unity was coming out of the grassroots, where true democracy has to come from. For instance, the Baptist pastor who was asked to lead a worship service invited leadership for half of it by one of the farmers who is illiterate but has a gift for singing, playing the harmonica, and composing songs. I just really sense the Spirit is moving and using this all to bring peace. (See the photo below.) It is not going to come overnight, but will build a firm foundation and create something solid for the long haul which will take time. These two days were part of the cornerstone in building that foundation.

The Baptist pastor told me that my sharing my photos at the peace seminar last year had had a great deal of influence on him. He told me that he after hearing my presentation that he thought about how I had given up a luxurious life in North America to come try to help the people on the Opon, mosquitoes and all. He then decided to visit the people of the Opon with me for the first time. I was humbled that God had used my experiences and photos for good with this pastor.

Thanks so much for your part in making this reality through the help of your prayers, concerns, and monies.

Jim


Here are some of the communities’ women serving everyone soup for the get- together. The conversations over meals built a lot of bridges between people during those days.

Here is the Baptist pastor David in yellow leading a devotional time at this historic gathering. To the right of him is Otoniel singing with his harmonica in hand, and on the left is Alberto, a Catholic lay brother, holding the megaphone. It was good to see the churches cooperating in this way.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Outside the Box

Dear Friends,       Outside the Box I am here to share about making peace with Isis nonviolently. I came to this in my quiet time when I first heard of Isis. My response was, “I’m a pacifist so I prayed, “Lord, they are such bad people the only thing I know to do is get rid of them. Bomb them.” I suppose Jesus’ disciples, and many people today like me, might have had a similar response.
So I prayed, “Lord, I’m a pacifist. Show me Jesus’ way, there must be a better way.”Lo and behold I just happened to be reading pages in the book The Powers that Be where Walter Wink says “for every conflict there is a nonviolent answer” I prayed, “Lord, I don’t believe it, show me.” Then what came to me was we need first to understand what creates Isis support, why they hate us, what makes people join these terrorists, and to find a good solution. What if you went home tonight and your house looked like this?

(I pass out this picture of homes bombed by drones) And your family was killed by a US drone? Wo…

Korea Peace Healing our Divided couhtry

Dear friends “Healing Our Divided Country” First I rejoice at the North and South Korea peace agreement. I suggest you go to the link democracy now.org for a very good interview of an American coronel who resigned in protest against the afghan war, and even though she opposes most of trumps doings she gives surprising hopeful insights about the accords. “I have a friend who recently told me he thinks we should deport all undocumented persons. And we should just do away with those who disagree. We are quite good friends we play soft ball together. How do I begin to talk to him?” shared a student at George Fox University in Oregon. The professor suggested, “Well you have some common ground in softball. Maybe that would be a good place to start.” The prof added, “Just about every student enter the conversations that was great.” This was from one of the 10 times I shared in Oregon. Here is our Emily with her family that I shared about in the last letter. I am glad to report that donation for …

Separaciones

Queridos amigos,                                             Separaciones
Asistí a un mitin en Chicago donde 6,000 se reunieron para mantener a las familias unidas.
Pienso qué pasaría si mi Andy y Emily se vieran obligados a separarse de sus hijos 3 años, 1 año y 11 meses. ¿Hay alguna ley que sea adecuada para que eso suceda?



¿Puede un creyente justificar la separación familiar a la luz de la Biblia?
 Levítico 19: 33-34 y 24:22 - Cuando el extranjero reside contigo en tu tierra, no debes oprimir al extranjero. El extranjero que reside con usted será para usted como ciudadano entre usted; Amarás al extranjero como a ti mismo, porque extranjeros fuiste en la tierra de Egipto. Yo soy el Señor tu Dios ".
Deuteronomio 24: 17-18 - "No debes privar a un extranjero residente ... de justicia".
O el llamado de Jesús a "amar a todos"

En el mitin tuve una conversación de 20 minutos en español con una familia donde los padres eran indocumentados y sus hijos 1 y 14 fueron d…