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Workings of the Spirit

Hello friends,

The other Sunday a former paramilitary, Jose, who is the leader of a Christian band, invited CPTers to come to the worship service where they would be playing. So I went.

Jose left the Paras (the illegal paramilitary organization) as a result of conversations he had with CPTers in the Opon four years ago through which he came to see the futility of using a gun to try to solve the 40-year-old conflict. Jose told me Sunday, "There were about 50 of us who left the Paras at that time. Some ended up in jail, as they were so used to criminal activity, it got them in trouble. Others returned to the Paras, and a few of us started to try to straighten out our lives. I am graduating from a seminary course Dec. 17. Can you come to my graduation?"
"Regrettably," I replied, "I won't be here in Colombia then."

Recently, when I was picking up a switch at the hardware store, the clerk asked, "Who are you? And what are you doing here in Colombia?" I gave him a brief explanation. "CPT started in 84 when Ron Sider preached if we are serious about following Jesus' call to be peacemakers, we need to be prepared to lay down our life for peace, the same way soldiers lay down their lives for war. This has always been an inspiration and a challenge to me."

Then after the store closed, he showed up at our door and began to inquire a lot more. This ended up being a 45 minute visit. He shared, "You know, only about 600,000 Colombians out of 40 million are involved with the armed groups in this civil war. A few people really have messed it up for the rest of us. I responded, "It has been my experience that most Colombians are very friendly and good people." He replied, "It is good you come here. When you go back home to the USA, let people know most of us are not corrupt drug traffickers."

Since I arrived in Bogotá a few days ago I have shared about peacemaking and the work of CPT with about with nine Colombia Mennonite Brethren (MB) pastors. One said, "I have been to the US where the churches talk a lot about peacemaking, but you have come here to war-torn Colombia to share and to work at peacemaking. That means a lot to me. You have left your family at home. I imagine they pray a lot for you. Your sharing is very challenging to us. Will you come and share with my congregation on Sunday?" "Sure," I responded, "I would be glad to."

And then when I shared at both the Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute and the above congregation, I sensed the Spirit powerfully at work both times. They had lots of good questions. About 15 of them took applications to go on a CPT delegation in December. Many shared that they would be praying for CPT.

Paz, Jim

PS: I arrived back home from Colombia just before Thanksgiving – but still have a couple more letters to send you about my time there. I would appreciate your prayers as I face the challenge of all the transitions that I must make as I return home.

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