Late yesterday afternoon, Mennonite Church Canada released the following call to prayer, written by Jeanette Hanson, director of international witness:
Despite a landmark 2016 peace deal that held the promise of ending more than 50 years of violence in Colombia, Mennonites in South America’s second most populated country report that the conflict that affected more then eight million people—through killings, disappearances, threats and displacement—continues to claim more victims.
In late October, Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (IMCOL—Colombian Mennonite Church) issued a public statement declaring that there have been 60 massacres (killings of five people or more at a time) so far in Colombia in 2020. Victims include young people and small farmers, as well as 200 civic leaders.
Rubiela, left, outside her house during her last visit with Hannah Redekop. (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.
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)
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.
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)
The yellow pin shows the location of a new Mexican Mennonite colony in Colombia. (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.
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 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.
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.
When I shared the story of my attack, I got a wide variety of responses from my friends, family, and co-workers. It is difficult to know what to say to people after things like this happen, so I was grateful whenever someone attempted to talk about it with me or to give me advice.
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.
Before I left Canada, I met up for coffee with a friend of mine in Waterloo—a pastor named Steve Tullock. We talked about my upcoming work in Colombia with Christian Peacemakers Team, and he told me about Colombian friends of his who had gone to his church in Canada.