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Sharing Light in the Darkness

A Letter from Cesar Carhuachin, serving in Colombia

November 2018

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Dear friends and supporters of God’s mission in Colombia:

Greetings from Barranquilla!

As we approach the end of 2018, we thank God for his mercy and grace to the Colombian people. Amidst national sociopolitical and economic problems, the country is receiving hundreds of Venezuelan immigrants each day. Currently, the Colombian government is keeping an open-arms policy regarding Venezuelan immigration. Some of these immigrants want to work and stay in Colombia. Others want to use Colombia as a connecting country as they make their way to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, or Argentina. They work hard to send money to their families in Venezuela, where economic and employment situations are terrible. Most Venezuelans live on about $12 per month. That explains the main reason some of them travel to other countries: they make significantly more money in these countries doing the same work that they do in Colombia. It is really painful to see how many Venezuelan immigrants walk hundreds of miles along the roadside on their journey to Peru. Thank you for your prayer support for our Venezuelan brothers and sisters and for Colombian congregations that are supportive of the immigrants, such as Las Nieves Presbyterian Church and Rebolo Presbyterian Church, which are located in adjacent Barranquilla neighborhoods.

During the month of October, I had the privilege to lead a series of five Sunday School classes on the Reformation at Comunidad Del Camino Presbyterian Church of Barranquilla. I shared how the Reformation addressed religious freedom, migration, education, youth and the elderly — and how these topics relate to Colombian churches today. It was a wonderful experience. An average of 8-10 people aged 65 and older attended, and the interaction with them was meaningful. During each class, I presented for 20 minutes and then provided time for reactions, questions and discussion. I loved how they reflected on how the Reformation relates to what we deal with in present times. Also, I was moved by how grateful they are for the ministry of their local congregation: they feel ministered to by the church. At the end of this series, some of them told me, “We were anxious to hear about these topics and relate them to our lives today in Colombia.” Others thanked me for helping them understand the Reformed tradition a little better. Teaching this series was an opportunity to learn along with this group of senior adults about these five topics. They really appreciate the legacy of the Reformation of the 16th century and how it is relevant to life in Colombia today in confronting issues like defending religious freedom for everyone, receiving immigrants to our country, advocating for quality public education, standing up for women’s rights and caring for the elderly in the Church and society.

On the last Sunday of October, we had a wonderful worship service with a baptism at Comunidad Del Camino Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Adriano Portillo baptized Abigail Ayala, the one-year-old daughter of Stefanny and Jesús Ayala, a young Colombian couple who have lived in Santiago de Chile (Chile) since 2016 and traveled to Colombia for their daughter’s baptism. Stefanny Ayala has been a member of Comunidad Del Camino church since she was a child. Stefanny´s mother, Mrs. Saddy Perez, is a ruling elder of this congregation. Many of Stefanny and Jesús’ relatives attended this church service.

I ask your prayers for our churches here in Barranquilla, since, with a few exceptions, baptisms are uncommon. Part of the reason for this is that pastors here are bi-vocational and must attend to their church responsibilities after the workday. Because churches are busy ministering to their current membership and offering social ministries for senior adults, women and children, it is difficult to create and maintain outreach programs and activities. Please join us in praying about these membership concerns, which also challenge many Presbyterian churches in the US.

From October 24 to October 26, I participated in the Latin American Theological Fraternity Gathering in México City that focused on “Migrant Theology: Faith and Displacement in a Global Era.” I presented a talk entitled “US Immigration: A Latino and Theological Perspective.” The conference was held at the Mexican Theological Community, an ecumenical center for theological studies. We had people from Canada, the US, México, Central America and South America. I learned in this gathering that many people in US and Canadian theological institutions are studying the complex issues of immigration and refugees. As Christians, we are called to practice hospitality, to keep in mind that Jesus and many other biblical heroes were immigrants and to realize that many Old and New Testament books were written in the context of displaced communities. That is why in many parts of the Bible we find teachings about welcoming strangers and immigrants. Immigration and refugees are current issues in many countries, and we need to respond to them with a sense of faithfulness to the message of the Bible and the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I want to ask for your prayer support for 2019. I will be in the US for my interpretation assignment from June to December visiting congregations, mission committees, presbyteries and other church gatherings to talk about God´s mission in Colombia; to preach; and to participate in Bible studies. I will also be attending and presenting at conferences. If you want me to talk to your congregation or gathering, please let me know in advance. It will be my pleasure to do so. You can reach me at

Also, I want to thank you for your prayers and financial support. Because of your generosity, we are able to diminish the grip of poverty on women and children, violence is dramatically reduced, and thousands of people around the world come to know the life-giving love of God in Jesus Christ. Thanks again for your partnership.

Peace and Grace,


Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear partners in God’s mission,

We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.

Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.

Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.

I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!

In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!

At God’s service and at your service!

José Luis Casal

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!

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