"When I was 13, I was hit by a car and had brain damage. I was in a coma for a week and told I would probably not live, be in a wheel chair, and never be right mentally. They took off the top of my head, stored it in my belly till the swelling went down, than put it back on. I feel it is a miracle that today I am pretty normal. I pray a lot, lead worship in church, play a flute I made of pvc pipe, and am a leader in my youth group." Thus shared Jefferson, an 18-year-old in the Mennonite Brethren church of the pastors I am staying with in Cali, Colombia.
"I prayed last night from 1am-5am for our country. Because of the youth, drugs, and armed groups, the churches have decided to have some praying 24/7 and that was my part," said pastor Irianeth Barrera. I was awed and humbled.
Here is Irianth with her 90-year-old parents, and two other relatives in the front yard full of flowers and a beautiful view of a mountain dotted with small farms. Years ago her Dad worked for very low wages for the hacienda owner who owned all the 1200 acres behind them. When the owner died, he inherited the house they now live in and as he said, "Even though he had no money it was a miracle of God to have the house." He was one of the first Christian in the area, and as a result, many of his family are now believers. Her dad helped her brother pick coffee that morning from their 3000 coffee trees. Coffee and chickens are main sources of income.
In appreciation for my coming, Irianth with other members call me up afterwards to give me part of the offering. I said keep it for the church, I just appreciate you inviting me.
My time in Cali has been made special by the way the family I am staying with and I have been able to share about our faith journey and life. This has been a real gift to have a brother and sister I can share very deeply with, especially about prayer and peacemaking. This I am sure has helped my emotional stability. They are pastors of a church plant and he heads up the Mennonite Brethren (MB) peace education program.
Shared my journey with 20 very intensely interested seminary students.
Shared my journey in a MB church, intensely welcomed by many friendly people, and treated afterwards to a roasted chicken dinner with 5 of the church members.
Shared my journey in a MB high school in 4 classes in Cali.
5/25 to 6/2 in Bogota
Shared in four 11th grade classes in Americano high school and a MB "God is Love" church.
6/2 - 6/13
In Colombian state of Choco with MB, where 95% are descendants of Afro-Colombian slaves. This is where the MB church began in Colombia. One of the poorest populations of Colombia.
Fly home to Chicago.
At Jesus People Cornerstone Music Festival. There I will give two presentations and have a booth. I am still looking for some people to help with the booth.
Interviews update- they went especially well, people shared many exciting ways the Lord used them to help others and bring peace to Colombia. Some reminded me of the way Moses was used. It was an exhausting time (this is why I did not write you) but very energising to hear each of their stories. I hope to share more details in the future about this.
I am slowly learning to trust the Spirit and the Lord more to fill up my days as needed which enables me to live in more peace. I had no depression for a couple of weeks. Thanks be to God.
The Mennonite Brethren, that through our interaction we would both be encouraged in our peacemaking.
Colombian presidential election, that who is best for the country would be elected, that it would lead to peace, education and healthcare for all.
peace to you,