A letter from César Carhuachín in Colombia
Hi, sisters and brothers:
Greetings to you all from Barranquilla, Colombia, South America! After the holidays we are renewed and refreshed! I spent three weeks in December with my relatives, two weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and nine days in Lima, Peru. I thank God for my family because they have been my prayer support team since I left my country (Peru) in 1986. The celebration of the birth of Jesus and other family birthdays was the tone for these weeks!
It is a new semester at the Reformed University of Colombia. As any new semester does, it brings growth and new challenges. The university has opened officially four new programs: Bilingüal Education (Spanish-English), Business Administration, Public Accounting, and Maritime & Port Administration. This is a part of the university's ministry to the city and country. It’s a way it shares the gospel of Jesus Christ in their context. This university is serving the poor inasmuch as it provides many scholarships to families with economic problems. Particularly in the Theology program I have some students who are struggling with the payments. One of them told me four weeks ago: “Profe, yo quisiera estudiar este semestre pero no tengo el dinero para inscribirme” (Professor, I would like to study this semester but I don't have the money for the fee). If you feel a desire to support them, there is a fund for scholarships only; the ECO# is E862554. You will be making a make a big difference in students' theological formation and future ministry.
The partnership between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbyterian Church of Colombia is growing also. Beginning this year, Colombia is a site for the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program of the PC(USA). Young adults can go to Colombia, live there for a year, serve in communities in need, work with a mentor there, and build each other up as disciples of Jesus Christ. Our church partner here is working faithfully and joyfully in this new partnership. If you know a young adult in your congregation or presbytery who wants to come to Colombia, share this news with them and direct them to the following website for more complete information: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/yav/yavexperience/
On February 5 we officially began this new semester. That day we had a prayer gathering with a devotional time led by the Rev. Rachel Welty (a PC(USA) teaching elder), who was visiting Barranquilla with her husband, the Rev. Antonio Welty, another PC(USA) teaching elder. Talking about living in a big city and working many hours daily, she said: “It is important to remember what Paul says in First Corinthians 13: we have to love one another, because that is the most important thing to do in our Christian lives.” Later I spent a wonderful lunchtime with them, sharing experiences and learning that they are Latinos also (from Colombia and Spain) and served also as mission co-workers in Chile (South America) years ago.
January was a special month in Colombia. We received the visit of the PC(USA) General Assembly's vice moderator, Rev. Tom Trinidad, and his wife Kyndra; Rev. María Arroyo from World Mission; and Rev. Carl Horton, from the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. They met with leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC) and of the Reformed Synod of Colombia (just for clarification: the Presbyterian Church of Colombia suffered a division on 1993 resulting in these two denominational bodies). They were impacted by a comment about the Rev. Gloria Ulloa:
"She was the first person (during the trip) to envision a post-conflict Colombia,” Trinidad said, adding that the IPC is focusing on how to reincorporate people who have always been in conflict with one another into a civil life alongside one another. (See a full article about this visit at http://www.pcusa.org/news/2014/2/20/valuable-partnership/.)
The reality of violence in Colombia goes back more than 50 years. Most of the people here say that they don't recall having lived in a context other than violence.
Last year the Accompaniment Program for Colombia hired a new coordinator, Jess Hunter-Bowman, who also came to Colombia in January. I had a wonderful lunchtime with Jess and German Zarate (Director of the Diakonia Program of the Presbyterian Church). By the end of January this program sent new accompaniers Nancy and Ted Collings, a lovely couple. I shared with them a Bible study based on Acts 16:11-40, “Paul in Philippi. A Sociopolitical Approach.” Later this couple went to visit the Soledad city. They saw how a group of women are organized and supporting one another. Nancy says:
“Ted and I came away with such a feeling of hope. That God had touched this small band of women to give them courage and resolve to find simple ways to support each other. This is hope personified: to be that helping hand, to be that word of encouragement, to stand with their sisters against the forces of evil.” (See her full reflection at http://www.presbypeacefellowship.org/content/colombia-accompaniment-report-finding-hope-colombia#.UwermnmWspE.)
Let’s support this Accompaniment Program for Colombia with our prayers and resources. The ECO# is E051763.
In this semester my personal responsibilities at the Reformed University are growing also. I am to teach three courses, but I have five classes: two classes of Old Testament I, two classes of Old Testament II, and one class of Systematic Theology II. A total of 68 students. Additionally I have to prepare a couple of works for publication and accompany a student on his final graduation project. I thank God for these responsibilities because I love to do that, although I know they will keep me busy. On January 19 I preached at the “Comunidad El Camino” Presbyterian Church, where my friend the Rev. Adriano is pastoring. This year he is also the session's moderator for First Presbyterian Church of Barranquilla. He asked me to help him with some preaching this year at “Comunidad El Camino,” and of course I accepted with joy because I love to share the Word of God.
I post weekly news about the mission work in Colombia on my Facebook page Cesar Carhuachín in Colombia. "Like" the page if you want to receive the news. If you need to contact me, feel free to use my email firstname.lastname@example.org (or use the link below).
I want to thank you for your words of encouragement, your prayers, and your financial support in my adventure as mission co-worker in Colombia. If you are not part of the God's mission in Colombia yet, I invite you to consider it. Check my page: /cesar-carhuachin
Grace and peace,