God’s vision is reconciliation

 

In Colombia, peace doesn’t necessarily follow the signing of peace accords

by Sarah Henken | Mission Crossroads

Presbyterian women participate in a women’s demonstration, calling on local government to respond to a surge in violence against women in Barranquilla, Colombia. (Photo by Sarah Henken)

LOUISVILLE — Reconciliation is the heart of mission Dei, God’s vision for creation. God’s intended purpose for the fullness of time is for all things to be reconciled through Christ (Eph. 1:10). We cannot turn a blind eye to injustice, to pain, to brokenness, and claim to be participants in God’s mission. In communities across the U.S. and in every corner of the globe, as Christ’s church we are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18–19).

I am blessed to serve alongside the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia (IPC), supporting peace education, accompaniment and advocacy. Peace accords were ratified between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group in 2016, but peace did not arrive with the signing of a document. The end of war is only the beginning, clearing the way for the work of peace-building to begin in earnest.

Now the government and remaining armed groups must continue in dialogue and negotiations; the IPC calls the parties to remain at the table. Promises of support for FARC ex-combatants must be kept, so that their transition into civilian life will bring increased stability to the communities where they live. The IPC joins with ecumenical partners in monitoring implementation of the peace accords and accompanying ex-combatant communities. Millions of victims must see justice, truth and reparations to help them heal and rebuild their lives. The IPC walks alongside local groups in pastoral accompaniment and advocates for victims. Colombian society must learn new patterns of thought and behavior after decades of normalized violence; the IPC offers peace education for all ages, in churches, schools and universities. The IPC’s work is born of God’s mission and shared as good news, even though many people in Colombia would rather punish the enemy than see them transformed and reconciled.

Mission co-worker Sarah Henken preaches at the Presbyterian Church of Cartagena. (Photo by Orlando Barrios)

In what seem to be increasingly polarized times, in Colombia as well as in the U.S., it is worth asking ourselves whether we truly desire to be reconciled with our neighbors. Jesus was in relationship with people of all stripes, calling them to repentance and inviting them to community. The ones who embraced that relationship most readily had been marginalized by society — tax collectors, people with diseases or disabilities, women who did not conform. But Jesus also reached out to the powerful and prideful, inviting them into a different pattern of relationship, to set aside judging others and valuing status and wealth over human well-being. Jesus didn’t stop making the offer, even though few were willing to accept.

God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. To be effective evangelists, we must embody our message, seeking to be reconciled with one another and with God. What divisions exist in your life? How will you practice reconciliation today?

The Rev. Sarah Henken is a mission co-worker serving as peace initiative promoter with the Presbyterian Church of Colombia. She is also the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program site coordinator in Colombia and a YAV alum (Uruguay, 2004–05).

Help promote peace
Support the work of mission co-worker Sarah Henken in Colombia:  pcusa.org/donate/E200475
Support the YAV program:  pcusa.org/supportyav

This article is from the Spring 2019 issue of “Mission Crossroads” magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers within the U.S. three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission and also available online at pcusa.org/MissionCrossroads.

 


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