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Conversations

Hello friends,

Those of you who know me personally know how I love to talk with people! And praise God, for He continues to use these conversations for the building up of His kingdom.

On the bus trip to Bogotá (a week prior to leaving Colombia), I had a three hour conversation with my seat mate, Jorge (name is changed for security), an older fellow who shared with me some of his experiences living in Colombia during the present conflict “ which has gone on all his adult life.

When I was young and saw all the suffering of the poor, there was a real temptation in my anger to think the only way to bring justice was to take up a gun. One of my friends and a natural leader took up the gun and soon was killed as a young age, killing any future contributions to society as well. Somehow I was saved from going down that road.

I now have a business that works in the countryside. One time in order to do our work, I had to pay off two of the guerrilla groups by giving them jobs and pay off the Paras by giving them building sand. It was either do it or face being kidnapped. Another time I was moving a container of machinery and the Paras said they needed it. I told my driver, "Your life is worth more than the machinery. Let them have it. God will provide us with more machinery." This kind of thing really makes it hard to do business here in Colombia.

Another time I was offered a loan of 4 million dollars interest free for a year and 4% after that. I asked a lawyer about it and he advised me not to touch it, as it was surely someone laundering drug money. I feel God saved me from getting caught in that one. "

The upshot of this conversation? Jorge had me show my slides in his office, and invited his secretary, his son and a friend who happened to drop in to see them. The friend was an atheist, which led to some interesting conversation, in which I shared how I moved from being an agnostic to a believer. They ended by thanking me heartily for CPT peace work and wishing me the best. Jorge added, "When you come back next year, we need to work on getting you speaking to the students at the university, for they would be very open to what you have to say."

Reflecting on meeting Jorge and many, many others makes me believe more and more what Mother Teresa said, "There is no such thing as coincidence."

Peace,

Jim

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