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Showing posts from January, 2005

Mennonites and Pentecostals

Dear Friends “We in the Pentecostal church look for models. We have been looking too much to David and Moses as our models. Our church has integrated their models of an eye for an eye and war into its teaching and worship. I am calling our church to change the songs we sing from images of war to images of peace, justice, and the wellbeing of society. I asked one Pastor to change what he has in front of the church saying we are at war for the gospel to saying that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The church needs to look to Jesus, who calls us to love our enemies, to be our model, not David and Moses.” This was the inspiring admonition of Marcos Diaz, a Pentecostal Pastor from the north coast of Colombia, to the Colombian Mennonite Conference I recently attended. This conference was also a time for me to share in depth and get to know quite a few Colombian Mennonites. In one interchange a brother shared with me a struggle he has with a sin, and I was able to say, “I struggle with that si

Colonel Rios

Dear Friends, Standing with Colombian soldiers, I watched canoes full of empty barrels pass in the river; it was obvious to me that it was the gas mafia. I also witnessed as a boat of Paramilitaries passed and the soldiers acknowledged them and gave them the OK to pass without doing anything. This happened a couple of weeks ago in the Opon. Yesterday, I went with other CPTers to share that observation with Colonel Rios, the very head of the Army operations in this area. A bit to my surprise, he did not try to deny it, but thanked us for bringing this to his attention. He said, "The Sergeant in command of the unit will be disciplined. This was a violation of what they are instructed to do in an encounter with these illegal groups." Using maps to illustrate, he then took over an hour to share with us concerning the operations of the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the gas and drug mafia. He also explained about the ways they even cooperate with each other in the drug tr

Challenging Stereotypes In Colombia

“Are you a Christian?” I asked the eyeglasses vendor 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 my children five years ago for a woman of the street, who was into a lot of bad stuff, including Satan worship.” He 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 get to know my children again. I am a trained psychologist, and here I am on the street selling glasses.” I showed him and his two friends, who are also vendors, my CPT photos and told them about our CPT work. I asked him, “Would you like a copy of this Peace Pilgrim pamphlet that has been a help to me in my journey?” He answered, “Sure, I’ll look at it.” After reading a few pages he then remarked, “This is good.” We just really

Introduction to Peacemaking in Colombia

Introduction for Readers To some this is new, to others it will be a refresher about the civil war in Colombia in which Christian Peacemaker Teams works at reducing violence. Peacemaking in Colombia I will arrive in Colombia September 15 to do peacemaking work on behalf of 80 farm families caught in the 40-year-old civil war. Since 2001, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), by their nonviolent presence, have been providing protection for the farmers on Opon River area of Colombia from threats and killing by guerrillas and paramilitaries. CPT is an ecumenical organization working to reduce violence in conflict areas of the world. I am a member of Plow Creek Mennonite Church, Tiskilwa, Illinois. I work full time at peacemaking and as part of that I give three months yearly with CPT in Colombia. I plan to post a weekly report about our work. Since I was there one year ago the situation has improved in several ways. One of the most hopeful signs is that the communities along the Opon

Peacemaking Budget 2005

EXPENSES Direct Peacemaking Expenses Budget 2005 Actual 2004 Budget 2004 Travel: Colombia; El Salvador; USA $2,500 $2,246 $3,300 CPT Program Needs: Booth rental; books; slides 1,000 1,085 500 Administration: Copying; publicity; computer; postage; phone; internet 1,300 1,285 1,685 Total Direct Peacemaking Expenses $4,800 $4,606 $5,485 Living Expenses Housing: $590/mo Retirement: 166/mo Med

Hope in Iraq

Dear Friends, I have recently finished Peggy Gish’s book An Iraq Journey of Hope and Peace . It brought me to deep prayer at times, helping me to see US soldiers as human beings and breaking down some of my stereotypes of them. It also helped me experience the personal pain of Iraqis who are caught in the war as opposed to hearing statistics in the news. This was peacemaking taking place in my own heart and mind. Peggy’s honesty in sharing her own personal struggle and admitting her own mistakes is challenging to my own peacemaking. Another aspect of this book that was inspiring to me was that when CPTers in Iraq realized they were making a mistake in midst of sharing with Iraqis, they were able at times to change right then and there. This is clear evidence of the Spirit at work. It also gave me a sense of how God was able to use the seemingly small amount of people, just six or so, to make a significant difference for the good in this horrible situation. I am adding to this