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Off to Colombia

Hello friend,

On February 2 I will head to Barrancabermeja, Colombia for two months to be a part of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) working to reduce violence in the 45 year old civil war. This is in place of my former plans to work with the Colombia Mennonite Brethren Church (MB). The change is because CPT raised security and other concerns about my plan. I hope to discuss these further with CPT leadership on January 16 in Chicago and with the team when I am in Colombia. As my pastor reminds me, "The best way to build trust is to work through conflicts."

This issue has made the last months very difficult for me as I struggled with giving up the call to work with the MB's for now. In a way this feels like this is a part of a process of the Lord doing peacemaking within CPT. I hope you can say a prayer for us as we work on these hard issues. We will need it.

CarlosContreras was inaugrrated as the new mayor of the Barranca region on January 1. He is from the Penteclstal four Square

Gospel Church, His advisors, the Catholic Bishop and Carlos's pastor, both spoke at his inauguration.
This could mean the beginning of a new Protestant/Catholic relationship in Barranca. The election has been a slap in the face to party politics. Contreras is a people's candidate and not part of any party machine. It is a very positive event.

Here in Illinois, I recently had a very positive experience sharing my slides with a women's study group. It has been meeting for 127 years. Its impetus was to work on the getting women the right to vote. They are a diverse group from the full political spectrum. Their dialogue is building peace at the roots of our society. Last year they studied WWII and this year they are studying peace. They had lots of good questions.

Please pray for my discussions on security and other concerns with CPT, and for my busy time as I finish up some peace work here and prepare to go to Colombia.

Peace to you today,

Jim

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