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They not only had to flee, but they lost everything!

They not only had to flee, but they lost everything!


Dear Friends,

"Having to flee our land because of fear of getting shot by one of the armed groups has been really hard. We no longer have a way to make money or provide ourselves with food by farming yucca, corn and such. Therefore many of us have had to sell our land to people outside our community to survive. It really has us in a hard spot. When everyone was from the community, if someone from the community had a mango or avocado tree, I could feel free to help myself. We just shared. Now we don´t know our neighbors so we can´t feel free to do that. Because many farmers are not producing the staples we depend on the prices have gone up, which makes it even harder to afford to buy them," explained Alexander of Mompujan. This helped me understand the dilemma farmers were in because of the war. They not only had to flee, but they lost everything. War is awful.

As part of the new Victims Law that was just signed by President Santos, the government plans to return the land to the farmers. Figuring out how to do that will be a real challenge. Helping this to happen will be a major effort of Sembrandopaz (Planting Peace), the organization that invited me to Sincelejo. Ricardo Esquivia, a Mennonite, is the director.

Felipe, who works for the Sembrandopaz and also with youth, after hearing my presentation said, "Wow, this really inspires me to work even harder for peace. You have to share this with lots of groups." He then got me five sharing times in schools and one in his church.

Sembrandopaz enabled me to share with three communities, many members of which left their land in fear for their lives. Ester, a Pentecostal Pastor from Zambrano, told me, "In the midst of the violence, we had people sleeping in our house because it was the only place they felt safe. We opened our place to many who were not part of the church. The need was so great, it just seemed clearly the right thing to do. God used it to teach me to help outsiders. It has been really good to be stretched. During that time, it was too dangerous to meet in the church building, so we just met in small groups in homes."

She added "During the violence, one father of a big family went back to his farm to gather staples to feed his family. When he did not return two of the sons went to check on him and found him hanging in their burned up house. They were told that if they came back again the same thing would happen to them. In other incidents a man saw the paramilitaries actually feeding live people to alligators. He has been in emotional shock ever since. Armed groups would cut people open and fill their stomachs with stones and throw them in the river to hide the bodies."

Please contact your government representatives through afsc.org and ask them to stop funding the million dollars a day in military aid to Colombia which is putting wood on the fire of war here. Also, ask them to vote against the Free Trade with Colombia bill which they are debating right now.

Please pray for

the implementation of the Victims Law.
peace and justice for Colombia
my five days at Cornerstone Festival June 29th through July 3rd


Thanks for listening.

Shalom,
Jim

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