A Letter from Chenoa Stock, serving in Peru
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On a recent panel with my fellow mission co-workers in Peru, participating in the Giddings-Lovejoy Zoom Presbytery meeting, we were asked how we would describe the word ‘accompaniment’ and what it means for our work with our Peruvian partners. As we each took our turn to answer, I noticed a response in the chat box. It mentioned something to the tune (no pun intended) of accompaniment, in the musical sense, being something that is played along with the melody to support it, thus making both parts stronger and heard.
I love this metaphor. Not only because I studied and love all things music, but because it is a beautiful way to visualize and understand partnership.
Perhaps ministry and service would seem easier if we were just one note, bouncing along to our own tune, unilaterally deciding when we want to go higher or lower. But when we include the accompaniment, we must listen more closely to when we need to go slower or faster in order to fine-tune our notes to create music together. Without accompaniment, the melody could sound weak or disoriented. Without the melody, the accompaniment could sound like too many notes without direction or a leading voice.
So, in our song of Presbyterian Mission partnership, I ask myself, “What part do I play and what part do our partners play?” And as I listen more deeply and closely to God’s call and to our call as a Matthew 25 denomination, to walk with the least of these and to listen and respond to the cries of injustice, I have learned that mutual partnership leads us to play different parts at different times. One part is not more important than the other; but rather empowers the other with its variations.
Our partners and the communities they support were suffering. And with our family also in lockdown and figuring out life in a pandemic, there was not much we could ‘do’ for them. But that was the melody singing – thinking that my single tune was needed to lead the way. Yet, what I experienced was an accompaniment of our partners’ voices, playing me their song of reaching out to their communities with community kitchens, refugee housing, biosecurity trainings, support hotlines, theological reflection groups, pastoral care and so much more. They offered guidance, direction and accompaniment for me about how to accompany those in need.
After a deeply divisive run-off presidential election, Peru finally swore in its new president, Pedro Castillo, on July 28, 2021. Castillo, an unknown candidate, considered to represent the extreme left, faces strong opposition in congress as he struggles to form his cabinet, requiring congress’ approval. There have been nationwide protests for and against the government, which has only exacerbated the already extremely polarized situation.
Thankfully, even amidst this tension, vaccines continue to be bought and distributed, with 36-38 year olds receiving their first doses soon. Death and hospital rates have been decreasing for weeks now, but the Delta variant has recently been spreading quickly throughout the country, so there is fear of an imminent and more intense third wave.
Our partners, though, continue to play the song of accompaniment loudly. Theological institutions of our partner, the Evangelical Church of Peru (IEP), placed strict biosecurity protocols for their seminaries and in-person courses so that students could continue to learn about God’s Word and Jesus’ teachings. A graduation ceremony was recently held for the first 10 women to complete a Women’s Theology course and for four other students from the Sajiruyoc Bible Institution. Since March, the IEP Sicuani Seminary has held in-person classes for about 25 students, maintaining their ‘bubble’ with no breakouts in their worshiping and learning community. The song plays on.
But it is not only our partners’ song. It is our song. We are there because our partners daily invite us to be a part of their song, to learn from them, to listen to them, to accompany them by allowing our melodies to blend with theirs.
Alongside our partners, I have learned and witnessed that our individual and unique melodies are important and provide different perspectives and harmonies. But it is God’s Symphony that calls us to join our melodies together to sing a greater song of love, justice and equality.
If you or your congregation would like to hear more about our partners’ song, our growing virtual world continues to allow us to do so! Please reach out, as I am here to share our partners’ stories however your church may need: a sermon, presentation, a Sunday School class, Adult Class, etc, via pre-recorded messages or in real time. Anything is possible!
I would invite you to continue to be a part of this song with our family and our Peruvian partners as we continue to accompany each other, growing stronger together as we sing out and serve the Kin-dom of God.
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
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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Tags: COVID-19, IEP Sicuani Seminary, Joining Hands Network Peru, Matthew 25, Pedro Castillo, peru, Sajiruyoc, Sajiruyoc Bible Institution
Tags: Chenoa Stock
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