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A Lively Sunday

Today was an unusually lively Sunday. I went to a church where I knew some people because I wanted to make contact with them again. I enjoyed the warm welcome which they gave me. See photo.

The worship services here are quite different from what I am used to, and some of the differences make it hard for me to understand. One of the differences is the high volume loud speakers, which particularly make it difficult for me to distinguish the words. In addition, my church vocabulary is somewhat limited. Today the congregation was praying and singing and I understood very little. My thoughts were,” Why am I here? This doesn’t make any sense. They are just putting on a show, pretending to be religious.”

Then the Lord seemed to say, “Just accept what is going on, stop judging, and concentrate on me.”
And through this He seemed to show me that He was there, and to say, “Maybe these people can teach you something about worship. You could benefit by learning to worship as they are doing. Just concentrate on the Lord and stop letting thoughts of judgment dominate your thinking.” After this turnaround, I got the sense that this worship for them was a lot more authentic than I had thought earlier.

To my surprise, the pastor said talked about peace in the sermon. He said, “We, the church, need to be working for peace, justice, and helping the poor, particularly the displaced (people who have had to abandon their homes because of threats from paramilitaries or guerrillas). Where there is injustice, it is because of sin. The Church needs to be involved in changing the structures of society that allow injustice to go on. We need to be involved in the government.” He then announced that the local Protestant churches were gathering on November 26 from 7pm to 1am to pray for peace for Barranca.

After worship, I talked to a woman whom I had visited with a year ago, and asked her how her dream of opening a restaurant was coming along. She said, "Oh, I have given up on the restaurant and I am now so excited about getting involved with our church’s plans to work with the poor, and the displaced and to be apart of peacemaking here in our neighborhood. This is so wonderful.”

Then a young man mentioned, “I saw a news report on CPT. Could I work for CPT? Do they have Colombians on the Team?” I replied, “Yes, we have Colombians on the Team. There is a Colombian training planned for 2005.” He is now investigating what is involved in joining CPT.

Later I went to a Baptist worship service, where I had a conversation with a teacher and good friend. I had given her the Peace Pilgrim pamphlet a year ago. She excitedly told me, “When I read the Peace Pilgrim pamphlet, the Lord really moved me, and it brought me to tears. I even told my husband about it.”

She also said, “This gathering of churches to pray for peace and justice is a direct result of CPT’s presence. CPT's work is such an encouragement to us. We are praying for CPT’s continued work. Keep it up. The Lord has been using CPT’s example to get us out of the church buildings and into the streets. We are not only praying about these issues, but now we are also doing something about them. It is so good. Alleluia!”

Then when I returned back home, a woman came to the house looking for me. She said, “I was visiting and praying in the jail until 3 this morning and I gave the Peace Pilgrim pamphlet you gave me to a prisoner. Could you please give me another one?” I gave her three and she said, “I will now have some to share with the women prisoners.”

“We ended by her lending me a book on prayer and my lending her a book that has been very helpful to me. Since then she told me, “Both the Peace Pilgrim pamphlet and the book are right on. Thank you very much. How much for that book you loaned me? I would like to buy it.” I think I will give it to her. The book on prayer I have found meaningful for me, even though the Spanish is a bit challenging.

This was a very meaningful day. I am humbled to have the privilege to witness and share in these workings of the Lord in the churches here. Thanks for your support that enables me to be here.

Jim

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