Colombia

Carrying seeds from Colombia to Palestine

Bladimir teaches his son Bladimir Jr. to plant yucca. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

Rubiela, left, outside her house during her last visit with Hannah Redekop. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

Call for volunteers

The lush green hills of Dos Quebradas, Remedios, Colombia. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

Dora Guzman of the Organización Femenina Popular talks about a new mural representing the organization as a phoenix rising out of the ashes. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

Five years ago I set out on a journey with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), providing international accompaniment to human rights defenders in Colombia.

Strengthening faith and soccer skills

Teammates Stiven Castro and Jose David Lopez Herrara face off during soccer practice in Cali, Colombia. Offering soccer camp for youth who want to be professionals provides an opportunity to share Christ and to give purpose to youth living in areas where gangs and violence are prevalent. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Teammates Johan Esteban Carvajal Motoa, Duvan Rodriguez and Stiven Castro hone their skills after a soccer practice in Cali, Colombia. They are part of an MCC-supported soccer school that reaches out to youth living in areas where gangs and violence are prevalent. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Call for volunteers

Soccer player Stiven Castro, 16, meets with instructor Sigifredo Godoy after a practice in Cali, Colombia. MCC supports the work of Godoy, a former professional soccer player, who runs a soccer school that reaches out to youth living in areas where gangs and violence are prevalent. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Goalkeeper Duvan Rodriguez, 18, reaches to grab a field marker used to teach specific skills during soccer practice. Rodriguez says that being part of the soccer school, at which players are also taught how to manage their anger, has helped him resolve conflicts with words instead of violence. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

When Sigifredo Godoy talks about living out his faith, he’s talking sweat and strategy—the commitment, knowledge and skills that shaped him as a professional soccer player. That’s what he’s now passing on to young men from some of the most violent areas of his home city, Cali, Colombia.

‘Colombia fever’

David Fehr, left, and Klaas Wall in the middle of a rice field not too far from Puerto Gaitán, Colombia. (Photo courtesy of Kennert Giesbrecht)

Seeding a field. (Photo courtesy of Kennert Giesbrecht)

Call for volunteers

The yellow pin shows the location of a new Mexican Mennonite colony in Colombia. (Photo courtesy of Kennert Giesbrecht)

A new road and hydro line in the Liviney Colony. (Photo courtesy of Kennert Giesbrecht)

Despite warnings from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Low German Mennonites from drought-prone regions of northern Mexico have bought over 20,000 hectares of land in Colombia.

A simple prayer

God, our Mother and our Father,
Jesus Christ, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

We offer our gratitude, for you are with us.
You are familiar without struggles and joys, and still you draw near to us.
You are Holy.

We offer you gratitude for your sustaining love,
For the relationships made and being made,
For our daily bread,
For the material we need to continue everyday,
For how you renew our spirit when we struggle

Mary's river

Mary Magdalene is one of the most controversial and mysterious biblical characters. She often gets a bad rap. She was pegged as a prostitute and temptress by Pope Gregory I, and her reputation remained tarnished for around seven centuries before biblical scholars redeemed her by untangling the three women whose stories Gregory had merged. It was not until 1280 that she was recognized as a leader and canonized by several different church denominations.

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Marching for justice

In his famous address at 1984 Mennonite World Conference, in Strasbourg, France, Ron Sider described shalom as “being in right relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.” Shalom, he said, “means not only the absence of war, but also a land flowing with milk and honey. It includes just economic relationships with the neighbor. It means the fair division of land so that all families can earn their own way.

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The attack

As many of my friends already know, I flew directly from Bogotá to Canada in early May, rather than journeying to Barrancabermeja to complete the final month of my stint on team with CPT. I have been asked many questions about what happened to me, so I will describe the incident here. If reading about violence is a trigger for you, I recommend you stop reading here.

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