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As the Grass Grows

As God makes the trees and grass grow, so He makes justice, peace, and harmony grow among people. This is an insight I recently came to see as an ongoing reality in this world. Just like with the grass and trees, we can only notice this growth over time and so it seems to be with the coming of the kingdom of God. This is a reality I was unaware of before. This insight came thru reflecting on the fact that many people I talk to about CPT work are very moved and want to hear more about CPT.

One example is the displaced former school teacher in Bogota who came to my slide presentation. He shared, “The paramilitaries made me and my friends watch as they cut up eight of our friends with a chain saw. I then abandoned my home on the coast and displaced to Bogota, eating cheap leftover restaurant food to survive. Having to live off of this kind of food was very humiliating, and often I would just cry. Looking back I see how God provided for me, giving me friends at just the right times.” He now lives in very rundown building with 70 other displaced families. And he said, “I know that God has a plan for my life, despite all I have been through.” And then he added “Won’t you please come to where I live and show your slides and share about your work with the others who live there.” The photo which accompanies this writing shows me sharing about CPT work with the families that live in his building.

Another day a teacher of teens asked me to show my slides to their Mennonite Sunday School class in Bogota. The teacher said you can expect the usual chip-on-the-shoulder negativity from them, so we did not know how it would go. One teacher hugged me afterwards; she said the teens were so attentive. They invited interested adults also, and this filled the room to overflowing. Two of the adults want to investigate becoming part of CPT.

In San Salvador, the MCC-funded “Yeh Ineme,” project is working on constructing peaceful social ways to replace the violent ways that have developed from the years of war. When we made a presentation to them, they had many probing questions like, “How does justice fit into what we are doing? How does CPT work at changing the violence ways of relating that people have developed as a result of the war?” I was glad to be able to say, “We have been creating the space so NGO’s with expertise in justice and reconciliation and many areas can have the security to work in the Opon. And it is happening there now.”

The very busy Baptist Church Pastor in San Salvador listened to my presentation for a while and then insisted that I share with the Co Pastor and the youth. The youth called us to pray for CPT work and the people of the Opon. They said, “We want to write a letter of support for the people of the Opon and CPT.” Many of the youth thanked me personally afterwards and eagerly signed up to get my emails. We had one additional guest at this presentation, a fellow whom I had met on the street. He, too, thanked me and asked to receive my emails. I found out later that he is a psychologist.

On the way to the San Salvador airport, the policemen I was sitting by on the bus started reading the Peace Pilgrim pamphlet I had given him. This led into a conversation about CPT. He said, “I am a Red Cross volunteer; it is such a good thing to help others. I will await CPT emails, and maybe some time I can get involved with CPT. I hope we can meet again sometime.”

On the plane returning to Bogota, I met a Canadian who lives in Costa Rica. He said, “I have done a lot of thinking about war and peace in the present world situation, and I do not have much hope that the world will ever straighten itself out. But I am interested in learning about CPT work; do put me on your email list.” My sense is that it was different perspective then he had thought about before.

All these interactions seem to point to the work of God in raising interest in the hearts and minds of people in many places to create a kingdom of justice, peace, harmony. Just like when we pollute the earth with poisons, nature comes back gently to correct our destruction. In that same way when we use violence and war to try to solve our problems, God gently raises up the ways of Jesus in our hearts and minds to try to get us back on track.

This morning one of our team leaders said to me, “Ya know, you really have a gift for making friends. That is really a gift to our team. Your friendship with the Baptist church has been such a good thing for the CPT Team. The farmers on the Opon always ask about you; you have built some good friendships there too.” These words seem to be an answer to my prayer for help in dealing with some present depression. Reflecting on the above, it does seem as though God has been able to use this gift He has given me.

I sense that CPT’s work is a small part in God’s worldwide work to redeem humankind and all of creation. That is an exciting thought, we are being a part of it. Warts and all. Alleluia!

May Thy Kingdom come quickly,

Jim

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