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Catching Up with Companions on the Peace Journey

"I am part of the Vineyard church, and we are strong on mercy but low on justice ministry. The church has asked me to develop their justice ministry. As a part of that ministry, I am in the process of developing a sister church relationship for our church with a church in Costa Rica and one in Guatemala. We are excited about our first 1st delegation which we have planned for this summer. I think our church is going to be really enriched through this experience. Do you have any suggestions for us?" Ann Howerton shared these thoughts with me as part of a two-hour visit which I recently had with her husband Craig and her in their home in Indiana. Craig and Ann had visited Plow Creek some years ago and have been receiving my email letters ever since.

This conversation took place on my way to a gathering of folks who have been involved with Companion Community Development Alternatives (CoCoDa), the organization that has facilitated our relationship with Valle Nuevo, El Salvador, since 1992. It was heartening to interact with folks who, like Plow Creek, have had many years of involvement with communities in El Salvador.

I sensed a growing maturity in all of us since our last CoCoDa gathering in 1999. We talked about how to share with others about what is really going on in El Salvador. Some of the highlights were the importance of really listening to others and sharing from the heart about the experiences that have really moved us. For me it was clear evidence the Lord has been working in each of us.

One person has been heavily involved in Haiti. Another is college professor on social concerns. One, who is in a prison ministry, shared the struggle in working with the US court system.. It is very difficult for them to get hired, which is the way to change and reform their lives. In many ways they have 3 strikes against them as soon as they leave the prison." But I admire her for her perseverance on behalf of these often forgotten people.

I ended the weekend with a CPT slide presentation at Faith Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana. One of the unique aspects of this church is the way they have integrated 10 or so mentally handicapped persons into their church. One led the singing. Even though he could not talk very well, he stood in front and kept time, and with the motions of his hand led the congregation. It was inspiring and beautiful.

"I liked your presentation. You just tell stories from the heart, without a lot of rhetoric," remarked Tom Benavento a CPTer. It was good to get several other affirming comments also.

Please be praying for our CPT Booth interaction at our local Strawberry Festival June 10, at the Conference "People against Poverty and Apathy" June 23-25, and at Jesus People Cornerstone Festival July 4-8 where Cliff Kindy will share about his experiences with CPT in Iraq.

Thanks, and the Lord bless you,

Jim

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