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Showing posts from 2005
The people who are holding our teammates have reset the deadline for a response as Dec. 10.

Please continue to pray, thanks , and peace,
Jim

IRAQ - An appeal from the CPT Team

Dec. 6, 2005

[The following appeal was just broadcast on Al-Jazeera television and has
been distributed to other Arabic and English media]

We are very concerned about our friends. We would very much like to know
that they are in good condition.

It is our most sincere wish that you will immediately release them unharmed.

While we believe the action of kidnapping is wrong, we do not condemn you as
people. We recognize the humanity in each person, and respect it very much.
This includes you, our colleagues, and all people.

We believe there needs to be a force that counters all the resentment, the
fear, the intimidation felt by the Iraqi people. We are trying to be that
force: to speak for justice, to advocate for the human rights of Iraqis, to
look at an Iraqi face and say: my brother, my sister,

Perhaps you are men who on…

CPTers abducted in Iraq

Four CPTers were abducted in Iraq on November 26. Below is an update from the Iraq Team. We on the Colombian team have been shaken by this news. Your concern and prayers are much appreciated.

Along with this sad news from Iraq came a tragedy here in Colombia. A sister who was a pillar in the Colombian Mennonite church was killed in a motorcycle accident. This motorcycle happened to be in the Colombian President Uribe’s motorcade in Bogota. She and her son had been on a CPT delegation. She was a special person who was extremely dedicated to serving others and she often avoided involvement in positions of power in politics or the church in her belief in the importance of focusing on Jesus and not herself. The funeral sermon highlighted her servant attitude. President Uribe attended the viewing and the funeral.

These events really brought home how we need to be grounded in the Lord. It made me pray a lot more than usual. It makes me grateful to be able to pray. We on the team all said w…

Prevention prayer needed

Sandra, a CPTer home on vacation woke up in the middle of the night burden with fear, as she had just dreamed that CPTers were in a town of farmers surrounded by armed groups, when the CPTers tried to leave a spirit of death knocked them over like dominoes except for Sandra.

The dream was so disturbing the next day she took it to her church and in response they had a special time of prayer for her and the CPT Team. The sense was that the team may be in for some hard times though it is unclear at this point what it all means in specifics. We sense also it was a message calling the CPT team to prayer and to seek God’s help in the days ahead. And we are here asking your help in that.

Then last night at supper we shared about a number of occurrences that have happened over the last month or so and some just recently. For security reasons I can not share them other that to say that some people that we trusted have lied to us. And we suspect it is because they needed to do it for there own s…

Human Rights Organizations meeting

I attended a meeting today where there was much heat, some laughter, and in which many straight forward questions about human rights were asked. The place was the office of the Vice President, and the occasion was a meeting between representatives of the human rights (HR) organizations of Barranca and government officials: Carlos Franco, formerly an ELN guerrilla, who is now the head of Human Rights; the police commander of Barranca; Army commander Rios; and a person from the Mayor’s office.

I was impressed with the directness of the questions the HR groups put to government officials, especially in light of the fact that they are strong adversaries of each other. The HR´s are advocates for the people and watch dogs of the government in many ways. They also are helping the government to find safe ways to stop the assassinations and threats that cause people to displace.

One of the most difficult things that they are dealing with is that police information is passed “under the table” t…

Visiting Isidro in Jail

“Oh, CPT, the group that doesn’t believe in using guns,” remarked the jail guard. “Yes, I work for Christian Peacemaker Teams, and that is what we believe,” I said. “For forty years Colombia has been trying to resolve its conflicts with guns, and it doesn’t seem to be working.”

This conversation took place at the start of my visit to Isidro, the community leader of Micohumado (Mico), whose arrest I had witnessed the week before. My arrival at 9:30 am meant that I was fortunate to get in, since they stopped letting people in at 10:00. There was about an hour of checks by guards, including frisking and being sniffed by a dog for drugs, stamps on my arms, and finger printing.

Once in, I was directed to Isidro´s cell block #4. The door was unlocked and locked behind me, and immediately I found out it would not open again until sometime after 3 pm., when all visitors would leave. I was greeted warmly by Isidro. The next four hours I spent with Isidro, his uncle who he hadn’t seen in 19 …

Dropping Peace Seeds

Right off the bat, in the first step to Colombia, as I arrived at Princeton Amtrak Station, another
passenger, Marie, said, "you must be going a ways with all that luggage. Where are you headed?"
That sparked an extensive conversation about CPT and Colombia.

After the vigil for peace in Evanston, where I stayed overnight. We invited Jorge, a Mexican,
home to eat with us. I told him a little about CPT and he said he would like to do that. He is
considering joining the Monday night Potluck seminars at Reba Place Church. He studied English
under our close friend Mary Jude.

In the airport I struck up a conversation with a 21-year-old Mexican from Miami. I shared with
him about CPT and gave him a Peace Pilgrim pamphlet. He heartily affirmed our peace work.
When we arrived in Atlanta I translated and helped him find his gate for his next flight.

Than at my gate, Gerry, a Pentecostal diary farmer/pastor on his way to adopt four children in
Bogota, started a conversation. I shared with him abo…

Plan Colombia: Guns and Roundup

As told to Jim by Matt Wiens. Matthew Wiens has a Master’s Degree in Agriculture, and is one of my best friends on the CPT Colombia team.

The guerrilla leader kept going behind the counter of the Santo Domingo* country store, making arrangements with the woman to buy some goods, while I was trying to pay attention to a farmer telling me his experience of the negative health effects of Plan Colombia spraying program to eradicate coca.

I was so distracted by being so close to such a heavily armed guerrilla that I was no longer able give my attention to the farmer. After agonizing as to what to do, I thought, “Well, I better do something rather than just sit here.” So I went over to him and introduced myself, “My name is Matthew. I am with Christian Peacemaker Teams here working at trying to follow Jesus and his call to love our enemies. I just want to let you know that there are churches in the north praying for peace in Colombia. My prayer is that you never use your gun to kill anyone…

End Fumigation

Hello,

Eight CPT delegates walked down the Barrancabermeja airport ramp, knelt, and prayed for an end of Plan Colombia aerial spraying to eradicate coca. They prayed facing the helicopters and airplanes used in that destruction, as you can see in the photo. This “War on Drugs” is much more a war on Colombian farmer families, often destroying their food crops indiscriminately while aiming for coca planting. In many ways this makes the farmers more economically dependent on coca.



The banner reads: Yes, to development, self determination, and life. No to gringo dollars for arms and fumigation.

Two men wearing army green and brown, and US State Dept. hats, said hostilely to the reporters who were with us, “You better watch out because we have authority to arrest you and confiscate your cameras.” After hearing this, the reporters left.

Then the US State Department representatives calmed down, and after some further conversation, agreed with us that the farmers here are just caught by all the …

Barranca Visiting

I asked the eye glasses vendor, "Are you a Christian?" after I saw his New Testament. He humbly said, "I am trying to be." He then went on to tell me "I left my first wife and children five years ago for a woman of the street, who I learned was into a lot of bad stuff including Satan worship."
The vendor continued, "I was only able to leave this bad relationship and the influence of this woman, after I got the help of the prayers of some friends a month ago. I am now praying and working to straighten myself out with the help of the Lord and a church. I hope to be able to go back to my children. I am a trained psychologist and here I am on the street selling glasses."

I showed him my CPT photos and told him and his two friends about our CPT work. I ask him, "Would you like a copy this Peace Pilgrim pamphlet that has been a help to me in my journey?" He answered, "Sure I'll look at it." He then after reading a few pages …

Sharing in Mico

Captain Rodriguez, of the Columbian Army called, roughly, from the door, "Are there some foreigners here?" We three CPTers immediately ended our meal and went to the door and introduced ourselves. Rodriguez told us clearly he was the commander of the army unit stationed on the hill overlooking the town.

Rodriquez said, "I spent a month in Georgia at the School of Americas (SOA), and I found out there is poverty in the USA that I did not expect to see. Not everything is rosy in your country either." We said, "You are right about that." Rodriquez then asked, "Have you participated in the (SOA) protests, and if so, why?" I said I did because of all the documented atrocities of killing and torture that SOA graduates have been involved in, particularly the killing of priests and nuns in El Salvador. Rodriquez responded, "Those were just isolated incidents. When I was there I received no training in torture." I said, "Well, I am glad t…

Arrests in Micohumado

I watched intently from our back patio here in Micohumado (Mico for short) as people in black suits with CTI on their backs, soldiers, others in civilian clothes, and some with video cameras were going in and out of two homes at 7am. They were all being guarded by a group of soldiers. As a CPTer whose mission is to observe and report violence I paid close attention to this situation.

Soon there were female cries from the home, "My child, my child." For the next two hours we heard this cry numerous times along with the cry of a very distressed teen who was one of four children of the mother involved. The pain I felt as I heard the cries of a mother and her children being forcibly separated made me know in my heart in a new way the horror of war.

A crowd of Micohumado villagers soon gathered at a distance with fear on their faces. They informed us three CPTers that the people in black were the arresting body of Colombia's Attorney General's office and that someone had a…
In support of Cindy Sheehan we held a candlelight vigil in Princeton to pray for a quick and peaceful end to the war in Iraq on 8/17. We ended up sharing quite a bit. Below are two of the sharings and a photo.


Here you see the prayer vigil. It was comprised of a variety of folks which included starting left to right in yellow,a farmers wife, a farmer, a Orthodox priest,a filmmaker, Kim a nursing instructor,me, a social worker, and Emily a college student.

Emily Gorenz a Senior in college wrote:

During June and July I worked in Washington D.C with high school aged students. As part of this we visited the Naval Base at Annapolis, MD. During our first trip the Naval officer announced that we would be shown a video “to get us energized and our blood pumping.”. The film was officially designed to ‘pump up’ new recruits at the Naval Academy.

. The following is my recollection of what was shown to us that day:

Slow, moving, orchestral music emanated from the speakers as footage played of the pla…

Conversations with Pedro

Pedro Membreno a close friend from our sister community Valle Nuevo in El Salvador a few weeks ago spend several hundred dollars extra to stop and visit us and friends in Chicago on his way to DC from El Salvador. I was humbled that he thought a visit here was that important to spend his hard earned money that way. We collected some money to help with his travel, and he mentioned that he would be sending the money to his wife who was left without any cash because they needed all the cash they had to show immigration.
In the picture above on the left is Pedro Membreno out with the strawberry picking crew I manage one morning of his visit. Our farm had a bumper crop this year. I am the one wearing the suspenders.

In one time of sharing Pedro mentioned, “Our one son has been drinking and it was causing a lot of worry and anxiety for my wife Angelina. We learned from the church that it was important for families to pray together daily, and since the children were little we have done that. …

What can we do for peace?

The following is another part of Hope magazine's John Wilson's (JW) interview of Colman McCarthy (CM), July/August 2003. His comments on Peacemaking I found challenging and insightful. I hope you do too.

Peace to you today, Jim

In 1985, McCarthy and his wife, May, established the Center for Teaching Peace, a Washington- based nonprofit that helps schools begin or expand academic programs in conflict resolution and peace studies. Today, he teaches classes at three universities and three high schools.
JW: What can we do for peace?

CM: . Few of us will ever be called on to do great things, but all of us can do small things in a great way..
It’s a sad reality that so many of our heralded peacemakers were wretches at home. Gandhi was vindictive to his wife and sons, as was Tolstoy. Martin Luther was a pathetic husband. Einstein was emotionally cruel to his wives. Yet, look at Harry Truman. He idolized his wife and was the model family man. Then he dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Naga…

Jim Fitz's 2005 Peace Plans

Greetings friends,I am just back from Colombia and then from a visit with my family in PA at the passing on of my sister-in-law. Here are my plans for 2005 combined with a report on 2004. To start off, here are some photos that catch some of the main aspects of my work in Colombia.



Here I am in the midst of a two-hour time of showing my photos and sharing about CPT peacemaking with soldiers on the Opon River. Some of them said that they pray everyday and we had a time of praying together. This kind of sharing with my photos I did often with all kinds of people - from bus or airplane seatmates to taxi drivers to shop keepers, both in Colombia and in the US. I see this as planting seeds for peace - one by one showing people in practical ways how non-violence is working to deal with conflicts.




After witnessing the above soldiers, who are to be protecting the petroleum resources of Colombia allowing the gas Mafia and the paramilitaries to pass without arresting them, we CPTers here had a th…

Reba’s Visit to Valle Nuevo

from David Janzen

I have the joyful and impossible task of trying to explain how five men (aged 22 to 64) from Reba Place Church were changed by our visit with our sister village, Valle Nuevo in El Salvador. (As those of you who have visited Valle Nuevo know, our sister community is a village of about 900 persons within the larger municipality of about 5,000 persons called Santa Marta. In the report that follows, I will sometimes merge these two names.)

Beside myself (the 64-year-old) there was Allan Howe (current Fellowship leader), David Hovde who has been a member of Reba for about ten years, Joseph Marshak—a seminary student and a Reba novice, and Jesse Miller—a 22 year-old intern among us.

In one day, on March 12, we were transported by air, highway, and (you-gotta-feel-it-to-believe-it) rocky mountain road from:
--snowy winter to tropical dry season.
--urban Anabaptist intentional community to Catholic campesino village.
--homes where each of us has our own bedroom to homes where six …

Jim’s Peacemaking Update

The Christian Peacemaker Team Booth at Cornerstone Music Festival went especially well. Serious interest in peacemaking seems to be growing amongst Christians. I have already had dialogue with others about helping at the Booth next year so we can reach more brothers and sisters.

I had many serious conversations, especially with the 20 persons who expressed interest in joining CPT work. I encouraged those interested to pray about it, saying it is important to sense a clear call from the Lord about this dangerous work. And if we pray, the Lord will answer, something I feel I have come to see more clearly in the last year. So get ready when you pray!

Here I am in a conversation at the Cornerstone Festival. 230 persons signed up there to receive peacemaking news.

Later in July I went to the funeral of my brother in PA. That was a sad time, though at the same time it was encouraging to hear the many stories of the way people showed love and care for Wayne. This concern for him is a clear evid…

Colombia Petition

a sample to guide your letter to your legislator.

Honorable [your legislator here]

We write to voice our concern about what is happening in
Colombia. For forty years Colombians have tried to solve their
internal conflict militarily and all they have gotten is more
deaths, 75% of which are civilians. Our government feeds this war
through Plan Colombia with $1.6 million a day in military aid.

Human Rights Watch, the U.S. State Dept. and the Colombian
justice system itself have found evidence of army collaboration with the
paramilitary. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), which has had a presence in Barrancabermeja since 2001, has seen the failure of Plan Colombia's American-funded aerial spraying to kill coca, and the devastating effects on food crops and suffering of local populations caused by the spraying.

We add our voice to the growing numbers who are calling on our government to encourage a negotiated solution to the Colombian civil war. As well as ending the civil war, ne…

Peace Vigil Conversations

A woman came up at the Peace Vigil at the Princeton Courthouse the other Wednesday and asked me. "Can I give each of you a hug to say thank you for your courage to stand up for peace and question this war? Then, on the edge of tears and with obvious anxiety, she took 10-15 minutes to share her feelings.

"I just want to thank each of you for having this vigil. People seldom protest war anymore thank you so much. My husband is in the National Guard and a US soldier in Iraq. My husband has been there for 10 months with 8 to go. He is part of transport unit base in Kuwait that periodically travels to Baghdad -- a very dangerous job these days. I sure hope and pray he comes home alive. Neither he nor his fellow soldiers believe we should be there. Saddam Hussein never did anything to us. Seems we are just there for the oil." She had her 3 children under 5 with her, one wore a shirt that said, "Where is my BagDaddy?" Say a prayer for the family.

Peace Work Update

Here is an overview of slide presentations and other peace work I have done or will do soon.

4/18 Southside Mennonite, Elkhart IN

4/19 Manchester College, IN International relations class

4/20 Midway Mennonite Church Colombiana, OH

4/26 Messiah College, PA Convocation

4/27 New Hope Church of the Brethren, WV

4/28 Church of the Brethren Rossville, IN

5/4 Knox College, Galesburg, IL with Peggy Gish on CPT Iraq. Peggy has given 7 presentations that I arranged in our area regarding CPT's work in Iraq.

5/8 Henry Christian church, IL

6/14 Princeton Rotary Club, IL

6/26 Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington, IL

6/29-7/3 Cornerstone Christian Music Festival, Bushnell, IL CPT booth.

8/24-8/28 Bureau County Fair, IL CPT booth

July Hannibal, MO talks pending

Christian Peacemaker Congress September 8-11, Indianapolis, IN “The courage to engage violence with nonviolence” Ecumenical and open to all peacemakers, Call 773-277-0253 for information.
Return to Colombia for 3 months mid September.
Pray tha…

Jesus and London Bombings

Friends Committee for National Legislation has some very good suggestions for a Jesus response to the London bombing, and you can write letters to all your Government's reps. with one click at . http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/officials/ Sooner it is done the better. blessings, Jim July 8, 2005
Here's the letter I wrote, More War is not the answer to the London Bombings, it will just fuel the hatred that the world relations is now full of.
An eye for an eye only makes all of us blind. If war and violence led to peace we would be full of it now, so it obviously does not work. It only leads to more hatred and pain and suffering, escalating the violence.
Please look into and support the Smart Security Legislations that Rep. Lynn Woolsey's introduced in the House. Please support the legislation to declare that we will and want to bring US troops home from Iraq ASAP.
Sincerely,

Jim Fitz

Creating a Peace Culture

In 1985, Colman McCarthy and his wife, May, established the Center for Teaching Peace, a Washington- based nonprofit that helps schools begin or expand academic programs in conflict resolution and peace studies. Today, he teaches classes at three universities and three high schools.

JW (John Wilson of Hope Magazine) : How do we create a culture of peace- or is that an impossible dream?

CM: Schools need to be one of the major solutions. We have 78,000 elementary schools in this country, 31,000 high schools, and 3,100 colleges and universities. All of those need to be teaching the basics of conflict resolution and the methods, history, and practitioners of genuine peacemaking, and the belief that we get strength through peace and not peace through strength.

Right now, we have children in our first, second, and third grades who, in fifteen or twenty years, will be convicted and sent to prison for violent crimes. We also have children in those grades who will one…

One Pacifist's Answer to 9/11

The following is from Hope magazine's John Wilson's (JW) interview of Colman McCarthy (CM), July/August 2003. His comments on Peacemaking I found challenging and insightful. I hope you do too.

Peace to you today, Jim

In 1985, McCarthy and his wife, May, established the Center for Teaching Peace, a Washington- based nonprofit that helps schools begin or expand academic programs in conflict resolution and peace studies. Today, he teaches classes at three universities and three high schools.

JW: You oppose military solutions, but speaking as a pacifist, what is your solution to September 11?

CM: • After September 11, we had four options: military, political, legal, and moral. Predictably, the military prevailed:
Got a problem? Go bomb somebody. The political solution: Follow our own advice when we tell Israelis and Palestinians, or the factions in Northern Ireland, or the factions in Sierra Leone, or the factions anywhere -- to sit down, talk, compromise, negotiate, re…