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CEPAD’s Transforming Work

A Letter from Tracey King-Ortega, serving as regional liaison for Central America, based in Nicaragua, currently in the U.S.

Fall 2021

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Dear friends,

As regional liaison for Central America, my role is three-faceted. First and foremost, as the job title indicates, I serve as a liaison to our partners in the countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. That means that I cultivate relationships with them so that we can learn about each other and understand what God may be calling us to do in that particular place, and discern how we can respond together. My second role is to serve as a support for our mission co-workers serving in Central America. And third, I serve as a resource for U.S. Presbyterians seeking to engage or already engaging in mission in Central America.

Working in four countries with twice as many partners, the ways I do my job are quite varied. The most precious part for me always comes back to relationship. Sixteen years into the position, I have been blessed with forging important relationships that challenge me in my faith journey, forever opening my eyes to the way God is present in this world and providing us with opportunities to build God’s kindom together.

I consider it a gift to be in relationship with our partner churches, seminaries and development organizations throughout Central America. Their work is a testimony to the depths of despair and to signs of hope in a region whose destiny is closely intertwined with our own. Learning about their realities and walking with them is an important way we, as U.S. Presbyterians, can be in solidarity.

In this newsletter, I would like to lift up one of our partners as they are on the cusp of a significant milestone. The Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua, better known as CEPAD, is one of our long-established partnerships. This coming year they will be celebrating 50 years of service to Nicaragua. Many exciting and creative plans are in the works.

CEPAD was founded by Dr. Gustavo Parajon on December 23, 1972, to provide emergency response after a large earthquake hit Nicaragua. What was unique about the response Dr. Parajon organized was that it was ecumenical. It was different denominations coming together to serve their community in need. Working across denominational lines was so enriching that as the emergency response work wrapped up, those involved wanted to keep it going. They shifted their work to development, have been going strong for almost 50 years and have walked alongside more than 4,000 communities in every department (county) of the country.

CEPAD’s mission has been to provide faith-based training to people in rural Nicaraguan villages through programs in leadership training, sustainable agricultural practices and economic development so they can break the cycle of hunger and poverty to support themselves and their families.

Working in rural communities, CEPAD can testify to the real impact climate change is having throughout the region. Farmers face great challenges due to floods, droughts and changes in rain patterns. CEPAD helps rural farmers adapt their farming techniques to combat climate change. Reforestation is just one of the steps to reverse the damage while also increasing food production and security for their families, helping to create agricultural techniques and land resilient to these changes.

In addition to transforming the lives of Nicaraguan communities, CEPAD also has a ministry of education and connection with U.S. churches. It was in CEPAD’s delegations and partnership program back in 1999 that I first began serving as a mission co-worker. Just as CEPAD serves as a school of formation for community leaders to transform their communities, CEPAD has also served as a school of formation of sorts for me as I have grown into my understanding of mission as partnership. The way they walk to facilitate partnerships by emphasizing relationship first and foremost affirms the dignity of all God’s children and values all the ways we can connect, contribute and participate in God’s mission together.

In my ongoing accompaniment work with partners like CEPAD, “hope” remains central to our conversations – not just the nature of hopes for the future, but how and where – and if – hope can be found in situations that engender despair. CEPAD continues to be a source of hope in situations of despair. I am excited to continue to walk and celebrate with them throughout their golden anniversary year. The fullness of life they bring to Nicaraguan communities, and by extension, us is a blessing and a gift and indeed a reason for celebration.

Just as I share about the deep partnerships in Central America, I also consider you all partners on this journey. May you know without any doubt that it is your voice, your prayers, your gifts and donations, your accompaniment from afar that makes this journey possible. I am especially thankful for your prayers and your generous financial support that strengthen me for God’s service during this Advent season.

Blessings and peace,

Tracey

Please read the following letter from Sara P. Lisherness, the interim director of World Mission:

Dear partners in God’s mission,

I don’t know about you, but daily my heart grows heavier. News about the pandemic, wars, wildfires, gun violence, racism, earthquakes and hurricanes cloud my vision. It’s hard to see hope; our world is in a fog. Yet we trust that God’s light and love transcend the brokenness of this time.

God is at work transforming the world, and you, through your prayers, partnership and encouragement, are helping us share this good news. Thank you for your faithful and gracious support of our mission personnel.

How can we see through the fog? What will the church be after the pandemic? Could it be that God is doing “a new thing” and is inviting us to perceive it? Through all the uncertainty we know that God’s steadfast love and care for all creation will prevail and that God’s Spirit is at work in each of us.

We all have an integral part to play in fulfilling God’s mission. As we seek to grow together in faithfulness there are three important steps I invite you to take in supporting our shared commitments to God’s mission:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel. Your support helps mission personnel accompany global partners as together they share the light of God’s love and justice around the world. Invite your session to include support for mission personnel in its annual budget planning.
Act – Visit The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study to delve deeper into the work God is doing through the PC(USA) and its partners in ministry around the globe: pcusa.org/missionyearbook.
Pray – Include our mission personnel, our global partners, and our common commitments to share God’s grace, love, mercy and justice in your daily prayers.

Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church. It is my prayer that you will continue to support this work with your prayers, partnership, and financial gifts in the coming year. We hope you will join us and our partners in shining a beacon of hope throughout the world.

In the light of hope,

 

 

Sara P. Lisherness, Interim Director
World Mission
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give please visit https://bit.ly/PCUSAmission

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16


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