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Grace and Peace in the Midst of the Pandemic

A Letter from César Carhuachín, serving in Colombia

Winter 2021

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Congregations: Give to D507559 for César Carhuachín’s sending and support 

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery) 

 


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Dear friends and supporters of God’s mission in Colombia: Greetings from Barranquilla!

We are living through our second year of the COVID-19 era here in Colombia. Several things that I have learned during this time, is that “We can be the Church of Christ without holding in person gatherings,” and “We can do mission without being physically present in our country of service.” I have learned these two lessons, and I am still thinking about their implications.

In Barranquilla, vaccinations of essential workers began on February 18, 2020. On Friday, February 25, vaccinations of adults 80 years old and older began. As of February 26 of 2021, Colombia has 2,244.792 positive cases. It ranks 11th in the world for positive cases. We have had 59,396 deaths in Colombia. In Barranquilla, the city where I am serving, we have 75,018 positive cases, with 2,214 deaths.

Flyer advertising the Conversation on COVID-19 and the Challenges for Churches Today with Ruling Elder Mary Reyes and an alumnus of our theology program Adolfo Cespedes.

Since March of 2020, our church partner, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, has not had in-person worship services, Bible studies, committee meetings, or presbytery meetings. I have had the opportunity to preach, lead Bible studies, and participate in conferences with our churches via Zoom, Facebook Live, Microsoft Teams, and other virtual platforms. Our Ecumenical partner, the Reformed University of Colombia, has accepted the big challenge of having all functions and services online. As professors, we had to teach, attend meetings, provide tutoring, share conferences, and receive trainings using an online format.

A Ruling Elder from one church called to thank me for organizing an event where Church people, University alumni, and University professors could participate.

This past year, our partners in Colombia faced the following challenges: 1) dealing and overcoming the difficulties of bad internet services or bad reception of an internet signal; 2) dealing with the problems of power outages; 3) dealing with the inability of some students and families to afford good internet service; 4) facing the financial impact of COVID-19 in the Reformed University, due to a reduction of more than 50% of the total number of students; 5) facing the death of several church leaders due to COVID-19 and praying for other church leaders who got COVID-19; and 6) facing the reduction of financial gifts.

Ruling Elder Catalina Bernal from the 3rd Presbyterian Church sharing non-perishable food bag with a Venezuelan immigrant mother.

Despite this reality, our churches here have been faithfully holding online activities and events, including a Stated Presbytery meeting and other Presbytery meetings. Some churches still continue serving and supporting Venezuelan immigrant families. The Reformed University has reduced tuition costs for students of low-income families and has been providing them a monthly scholarship to cover internet expenses. Despite the financial impact on the school, the university is still offering 12 programs.

So, we praise God because God is good all the time; all the time, God is good! Please, pray for the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and its ministry at this particular time.

I am teaching three courses this semester: Systematic Theology 1 and 2, and Exegesis of Matthew 25. I really appreciate teaching the Exegesis course because the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is taking Matthew 25 very seriously. At the end of the Exegesis of Matthew 25 course, I will ask my students to describe some of the challenges that our current church and society are facing. I will share some of them with you when our course ends in June.

I want to request your prayers for my family in Lima, Perú, where my parents, my aunt, one of my sisters, and one of my brothers got COVID-19. My parents are 86 years old, and my aunt is 84 years old. My sister and my brother are much younger. Thanks be to God, all of them are reaching the end of the second week of contagion without severe or significant symptoms.

On Saturday, February 20, all of us (seven brothers and sisters) had a prayer and fast time from 8 am to 1 pm. We live in three different countries, but technology enables us to be united. Five of us prayed together five times and had a short biblical reflection for healing for my family. We divided ourselves into three groups and thanked God for physicians, nurses, and essential workers. We prayed for sick relatives and friends. We prayed for the political problems in our countries, such as corruption in the distribution and the use of the vaccines, and we thanked God for the opportunity to pray together.

I want to share this with you because praying together has been a blessing for my family. It made me remember our devotional times when I was a child. I have found that prayer is always a way to find peace, meet God, and receive God’s inspiration for our life and ministry.

I also want to thank you for your prayers and financial support of God’s mission in Colombia that allows me to serve God in Barranquilla and support the ministry of our church partner.

If you want to reach me, please email me at cesar.carhuachin@pcusa.org.

Peace and Grace,


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