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Beacons of Hope

A Letter from César Carhuachín, serving in Colombia

April 2018

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Dear friends in the US,

Greetings from Colombia, South America!

I want to introduce you to one of my students, the Rev. Zulema Garcia, who is the Moderator of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Venezuela. Zulema is the first woman moderator of this synod. Since 2004, she has been a pastor in Maracaibo City, the capital of the state of Zulia, a state that borders Colombia. Zulema is a married mother of three daughters and has five grandchildren. She began her theological studies in a Presbyterian-Lutheran theological program in Venezuela that closed after a couple of years. But she decided to continue with her formation and took some courses at a Pentecostal institute in Venezuela. She then enrolled in a school in Spain and got her degree in family counseling. Since 2015, she has been working on her theological degree in the theology program at the Reformed University of Colombia.

Rev. Zulema Garcia

For this reason, Zulema alternates between living in Colombia and Venezuela, studying here in Barranquilla for five weeks at a time and then returning to Venezuela to complete her papers and readings. Zulema believes her theological study will enable her to help Presbyterians who wish to go into the ministry get a theological education, support Presbyterian projects on an international level and guide young leaders in interpreting the sociopolitical situation of Venezuela by providing theological and pastoral responses. She plans to write her final paper on how to support Venezuelan immigrants on the Colombian coast through providing them with pastoral resources.

I share all this with you to let you know how difficult it currently is to receive accredited theological education in Venezuela. It is unfortunate that students like Zulema must leave their home country each semester for several weeks at a time to study theology. Zulema says that the lack of good internet connection and a lack of a good library in her home city are the main challenges to completing her studies.

People like Zulema are beacons of hope in unstable times. The Colombian government and FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) signed a Peace Agreement more than a year ago, but the implementation of the agreement´s elements is still a challenge. The main four sources of the historical violence — the guerrillas (FARC), the paramilitary forces, drug trafficking groups and military groups — are still facing challenges to making peace a reality. Some of them are resisting implementation of the accords. And, in the midst of these tensions, the Colombian government has begun peace talks with the FLN (National Liberation Front), another Colombian armed rebel group. The Presbyterian Church of Colombia is supporting these peace talks, as it did the peace agreement of 2016. I invite you to continue praying with our church partner and me for peace in Colombia.

Presbyterian Church of Colombia’s 69th synod meeting, “Reaffirming Unity.” Moderator Jesús Vargas Cuesta is the second person standing from the right.

Our partner, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, held its 69th synod meeting, “Reaffirming Unity,” March 22-25 in the city of Medellín, Antioquía Department. Ruling Elder Jesús Vargas Cuesta from the Presbytery of Urabá was elected as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia. Please pray for our church partner’s unity in mind, heart and work.

As we are entering Holy Week, may we lift up our hearts to the Prince of Peace, who will lead us to peace in Colombia, the United States and the whole world. Last Sunday, I preached at the Fifth Presbyterian Church about “The Love in the Surrender of Jesus,” sharing about the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume (Mark 14) as proof of her love for him and about how in his incarnation Jesus gave up the form of God as a proof of his love for all human beings (Philippians 2). People thanked me after the service and told me that the message touched their hearts. Praise be to the Lord!

I want to thank you for your support of God’s mission in Colombia. Your financial contributions, prayers and messages really encourage me. If you haven’t yet had the chance to contribute to mission in Colombia, I invite to pray about doing so. Your support makes a difference in the ministry.

I invite to check out my page at the World Mission site: If you want to contact me, feel free to use my email:

The peace of the Resurrected be with you all!

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