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Hello friends,
The guy next to me in the flight into Bogotá just said, "NO, no! Won't work, don't even try it. Don't go there." Then without any explanation, he moved to a back seat in the plane. I guess when he saw me reading Christian Peacemaker Teams newsletter, he saw the word Christian and figured I was an ordinary missionary. So I did not know quite what to do. I had some fear that he did not like missionaries and that is why he moved. I sensed somehow that the Lord wanted me to relate to him, though I was not sure how. So I thought I would at least return the sunglasses which he had left on the seat. And to my surprise, he was very grateful. After a bit he came back and sat with me again and started to do more sharing and was friendlier than before.

He said, "I am here on business. I love shooting guns and killing animals and flying airplanes. I have a problem with the FARC guerrillas. I have been in the Marines for fourteen years, and have been a lot of places in the Mideast. I believe in God, have been baptized twice, and I am not afraid to die." He had a number of drinks. It seemed that my part was just to listen, and leave the rest to God. He did take my card in the end, and initiated a farewell: I really do wish you the best," he said a number of times. I responded, "The same to you." I said very little about myself, other than that I was a Mennonite and working in peacemaking. It seemed a time for me to learn to just listen and I had the sense when we parted that somehow the Lord used the conversation for the benefit of both of us.

The next day I had a wonderful visit with Cesar Garcia, the president of the Mennonite Brethren Church of Colombia and his wife and co-pastor Sandra. Cesar shared, "Our church in the last 10 years has been discovering its Anabaptist roots. For the church this means more a community where leadership and pastoral work is shared rather than being run by a pastor. This is more like the early church.

"Our church is looking anew at the importance of peacemaking in following Jesus. We have two offices dedicated to peace. These offices work with people who have had to leave their homes because of threats from armed groups. This has caused a number of our pastors to be threatened by the armed groups."

"We have become a lot more ecumenical. We even have some pastors that are teaching in a Catholic University, even though there is some resistance to this among both Mennonites and the Catholics. Before this we were just like any other evangelical Protestant church here. I feel it is the Lord that is doing this change. This change has brought about a lot of growing pains, but the Lord seems to be seeing us through."

I then showed them my album about CPT work and told them the stories to go with the photos. They said, "We would be very interested in having you show your CPT slides to our pastors here in Bogotá and to the churches here."

It was one of those special God-given times when individuals really connect with each other. It is exciting to be a small part of the renovation the Lord is doing in this church. Cesar remarked, "It seems this time together is a God-send to us. We will have to see what happens."
Here are some of my other Colombian friends:
the Baptist pastor with his first grandchild, his brother, their wives, and their children.

God is also at work in Vermont. I want to end this letter with a message from a member of Jim's Peacemaking Team there. She is thanking all those who work to get my emailings and letters out.

Your work in enabling God's message of Love and Peacemaking, articulated through Jim's actions and words, to reach out to us, is valuable. We should call it Jim's Peacemaking Team! The communications are shared with our Quaker Friends meeting here in Bennington and I am taking copies of the latest with me to share as we gather regionally this weekend at Farm and Wilderness camps". The meditation guide (http://www.plowcreek.org/jimspeacemaking.htm#meditation_exercise) has inspired several of us to renew our commitment to include meditation in our life style. It isn't easy to stop and be still in today's world. It has also inspired several of us at meeting to add a few minutes of prayer for peace at the close of worship. -- Auberta J Galusha (Berta), Bennington, VT

Thanks for your support for peace,

Jim

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