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Last Days in Colombia

Dear friends,

My three months in Colombia and on the CPT team there were drawing to a close, and Noah was leading the team worship which would be my final one this time. He asked people to share anything they wanted to share with me or to say prayers for me. Michele shared, "I really appreciate the fact that when you took me downtown to make a copy of my passport, you also introduced me to your many friends that we met along the way. I also appreciate how you shared CPT brochures with those we did business with."

Pierre said, "I just always chuckle inside whenever I see you giving out a Peace Pilgrim pamphlet. I can't help but think that you are a peace pilgrim too." He added, "And you will be Uncle Jim to our two-year-old daughter Vania from now on!"

As I listened to these and other sharings and looked around at each person, suddenly a light went on in me which made me share, "You have each helped me become more of what God
meant me to be during these two and half months together. You have touched me deeply."

I am considering returning to Colombia under a little different capacity in September. Your prayers that the Lord's will would be done are appreciated.

Often people ask, "Do you see any positive change or hope for peace in Colombia?" Here are a few things I noticed:

---When President Uribe first won the Presidency, he campaigned on the platform that he was going to blow the guerrillas off the map, and that he would never negotiate with them. Well, now for the last two years his government has been negotiating with the ELN, the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia. Some of our trusted consultants have said there is real hope for these talks to be a model for future fair and just agreements between the warring groups in Colombia. One of our trusted consultants has been a part of the talks.

---For the 2007 elections in Barranca, three trusted friends have declared their candidacy. Two of them are for city council and one is for mayor. It has been said about the mayoral candidate, "He is zero corruption." And I would say this is true of all of them. Not long ago they would have been afraid for their lives to be running for office.

---Here is Jorge, showing his certificate from a course on nonviolence and leadership that a Development Organization taught to the people in the community of Opon. I still remember how excited he was to tells us about how violence can happen in the home even with just words as well as with guns. It was a good reminder that we need to work against violence on all fronts, even in ourselves. I doubt if this development organization would be operating if CPT had not paved the way.

---More and more the churches are getting involved. Two strong examples are the changes in the Mennonite Brethren and the Pentecostal church which I observed personally. The churches have a very important part to play in bringing a solid justice and peace to Colombia as they lift up the ways of Jesus in loving enemies, in being reconciled and in building honesty in a society that has been steeped in fighting and corruption for 45 years.

Thanks for your prayers that have helped bring these positive changes. Please keep it up.


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