A Letter from Cesar Carhuachin, serving in Colombia
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Greetings from Louisville, Kentucky, to all my friends and supporters of God’s mission in Colombia!
I am in the United States on my interpretation assignment visiting congregations, presbyteries and church gatherings to share about the mission work being done through partnership between the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, the Reformed University of Colombia and PC(USA) World Mission.
Since arriving in the States in June, I have visited three congregations in Washington state: Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church, Bremerton (June 30); First Presbyterian Church of Port Townsend (July 07); and Southminster Presbyterian Church, Des Moines (July 14). During these visits, as I shared about God´s mission in Colombia, I explained what life is like during what some call the “post-conflict” time. This refers to the time after the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Unfortunately, however, about 500 activists and community leaders have been killed since the signing of the Peace Agreement. In addition to this terrible situation, political inconveniences are impeding the implementation of the Peace Agreements.
Also, I shared with these congregations about the Venezuelan migrants in Colombia. According to the United Nations, there are 1.3 million Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, though we who live in Colombia would say that this number is much higher. Something that catches my attention is that Venezuelan migrants don´t ask for alms. They are crossing the border to work, with the ultimate goal of sending money to their families in Venezuela. We see Venezuelan migrants working on the streets; cleaning car windshields at stop lights; and selling bottles of water, cups of coffee, candies and fruit, among other things. I live a block and a half from the Reformed University where I serve, and every day I see about 16 Venezuelan street workers between my house and the school. They work there the whole day, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. I asked these three congregations in Washington, and I ask you, my brothers and sisters, to pray that Columbians can be good neighbors to Venezuelan migrants and that we, as people of faith, may be welcoming churches, practicing hospitality, worshiping and working together with Venezuelans to answer their needs.
During this time of interpretation, I have found it very enriching to engage in long conversations with retired pastors, pastors and church members in the U.S. who really care for missions and peace. The U.S. faces some of the same problems as Colombia, such as violence in our cities and the challenge to be peacemaker congregations. I was heartened to hear the desire of these three congregations in Washington to be welcoming congregations to immigrants.
The last congregation I visited, on July 28, was the Presbyterian Church of Leonia, NJ, a wonderful multicultural congregation, where I preached about the Code of Hospitality as it is reflected in the narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19. This ancient code refers to the social mandate to host strangers, visitors and migrants. I found that this congregation practices this teaching very well. It is a wonderful experience to preach in churches and discover that the congregation is already practicing the message I want to share. I give thanks to God for that.
I will stay in the States until November 13. As of today, I still have some Sundays available: September 29; October 6 and 20; November 3 and 10. If your congregation would like me to visit, I would love to. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to give thanks to all of you for your faithful prayer and financial support of God´s mission in Colombia.
Peace and Grace,
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Tags: Bremerton; First Presbyterian Church of Port Townsend; hospitality, compassion, Des Moines, farc, ia, immigration, migrants, New Wilmington Mission Conference, peace agreement, Presbyterian Church of Leonia NJ, Southminster Presbyterian Church, venezuela, Washington; Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church
Tags: César Carhuachín
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