A letter from César Carhuachín serving in Colombia
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Dear brothers and sisters:
Greetings from Barranquilla, where the temperature is close to 90 degrees and the humidity is 75 percent.
We are happy here to have celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Reformed University of Colombia (URC) May 15 to May 17. Celebrations included an international conference with Dr. Eugene Saavedra, who addressed the teachers; a Teacher Day celebration; a culture and food festival; and a music concert.
The university began in 2002 as an educational ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia. The Colombian Presbyterian Theological Seminary was the seed, and soon music, psychology and international business administration programs were added. In 2014, the university added bilingual education, business administration, accounting, industrial engineering, computing, environmental science and biomedical programs. Since 2015, the university has been offering some graduate studies, but it does not yet offer graduate degrees.
Our slogan is “We educate the life for peace.” We live this by:
(a) providing financial support to students who come from low-income families and displaced families and students who are victims of violence, and
(b) working with all program students to develop strong values, including committing to community service, respecting life, honoring cultural diversity, working for peace, behaving honestly, acknowledging social responsibility and acting with cultural sensitivity.
In this way, our ecumenical partner is addressing the root of the poverty (lack of education) and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the most vulnerable people in the region of the Colombian coast, poor families and victims of violence. It is my privilege to work at this school as a mission co-worker of the PC(USA). I thank you for your financial support; without this I couldn’t serve in God’s mission in Colombia. I invite you to continue to pray for our ecumenical partner.
On Thursday, May 18, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, visited U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House. This visit reflects the good relations between the U.S. and Colombia, which is signified by the U.S. Congress’ authorization of Peace Columbia, the 450 million dollar post-conflict aid package proposed by the Obama administration. To learn more about this Obama-proposed peace budget and the peace process in Columbia, consult colombiapeace.org.
There are true challenges for peace in Colombia, such as safety and protection for human rights workers and community leaders. Twenty-five have been killed in 2017. But there are good signs: former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members are doing their part to make peace in Colombia a reality. Please join our church partner, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, in praying for peace in Colombia and for the wisdom of Colombian authorities in its implementation.
On April 16, Easter Sunday, I preached a sermon titled “Hope as the Message of the Resurrection” at the Third Presbyterian Church of Barranquilla. This congregation is always in my thoughts because it is located in the most vulnerable area of Barranquilla, the Rebolo neighborhood, which is ridden with crime, drugs and prostitution.
The church’s ruling elder, 38-year-old Ramón J. Barrios, explained to me how the church and the URC gave him the tools to become a community leader. When Ramón was 10 years old, he was invited to Third Presbyterian Church by another child, Yolbetis Saavedra. He made a faith decision when he was 14 and became a member of the congregation. Currently, Ramón is in the last semester of URC’s theology program, and Yolbetis is director of the university’s accounting program. Ramón is thankful to the URC because “the university has provided [him] with a wider education and has given [him] a vision of an inclusive society.” Ramón works as an edil, a political position that involves being a bridge and facilitator between Barranquilla’s City Hall and the residents of that area to ensure that the City Hall answers all the basic needs of the residents and to work with the residents on addressing basic needs that have yet to be satisfied. He will serve a four-year term. Ramón said that he “enjoys serving the community and seeing the people’s needs satisfied” and that his big challenge is “the lack of patience of the people when the system takes too long to resolve their problems.” Ramón explains that he is thankful to Third Presbyterian Church because “the church has helped [him] to develop . . . leadership skills.” I invite you to pray with me for Ramón Barrios and his future in the Christian ministry and for his continued service and growth as a community leader.
Recently, I had an opportunity to travel to Lima, Perú to serve as a guest professor and speaker in my home country. From May 15 to May 19, I taught an intensive course on Christian ethics at the Comunidad Teológica del Perú, one of the three accredited schools for theological studies in Lima. The school is rooted in the Methodist tradition. The group of students was diverse—30% Presbyterian, 40% Evangelical and 30% Pentecostal. Three students were pastors. Students responded very well to my classes, saying things like “we are going to Colombia to continue studying” (a joke really). On closing day, Tomás Gutierrez, director of the school, gave me a little bust of Martin Luther.
The following day, May 20, I spent the morning in an event sponsored by two theological schools, Centro de Estudios para la Evangelización y Misión de la Amazonía (CEMMA) and Facultad Evangélica Orlando Costas (FEOC), where I presented in two conferences on “Contributions of the Reformation to Hermeneutics” and “Reformation, Human Dignity and Human Rights.” The group attending was different from the previous place. Most of them were pastors, professors and professionals. The group was very engaged in the themes I introduced, and we had a very interesting question and answer time. I thank God for these invitations and the opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in Perú. Let’s pray that Comunidad Teológica del Perú, CEEMA and FEOC may continue serving in Lima through solid theological education rooted in Christian tradition.
I invite you to check out my page at the World Mission site (see below), where you can read my past Mission Connections letters. Also, you can check out my Facebook page: Cesar Carhuachin in Colombia and “like” it—I share weekly news about peace in Colombia, my work at the URC and the life of our church partner, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia. If you want to contact me, feel free to email me at the address provided in the below gray box.
Again, I want to thank you for your prayers and financial support of God’s mission in Columbia. I invite you to continue giving financially, of if you have not yet provided a monetary gift, to give for the first time. Your generosity allows me to work with the people of Columbia for God’s purpose. May the God of Grace and Peace bless your life, family and church.
César G. Carhuachín
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Tags: “Peace Colombia” Ramón J. Barrios, anniversary, peru, URC
Tags: César Carhuachín