He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” -Mark 4
With our sisters and brothers in Colombia, we lament and grieve that during the plebiscite vote on October 2, 2016 in Colombia, by a slim majority of just 50,000 votes, the country has voted “No” in its referendum on the peace process with the FARC. This was a peace process that was negotiated over the last fours years in Havana, Cuba.
We affirm our full and complete commitment to our partners in the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia and to the Gospel of nonviolence, hope and reconciliation as found in the life and death of our Savior Jesus Christ. We intend to continue with the practice of accompaniment, walking side-by-side with communities and leaders who are seeking new ways forward in Colombia. We intend to continue to press our own government for funding for Colombian that supports the peace process. We will continue to press against our own government to oppose any and all military funding for Colombia. We renounce violence in all its forms.
Yesterday, our partners in the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia wrote a letter to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in which they lamented the “no” vote, affirmed their trust in our partnership and re-committed themselves to the work that is before us in both Colombia and the United States which is deep soul-work, renewing and reforming our spirits to conform to that of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace:
“For this reason, today more than ever, we invite you to continue accompanying us with your prayers and with your actions and may you know that from this corner of the world, the Church continues to stand firm, guided by the light of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. From our communities, our schools and university, from our social ministries, we will continue to work to build a better country.”
We are mustard-seed people. And so we live in hope. God calls us to peace, justice and reconciliation. There is much work to do to change and reform our hearts, minds and souls individually and collectively away from violence and towards discipleship in Jesus Christ which is nonviolence. This is the work we pledge to be about: walking hand-in-hand, side-by-side with our sisters and brothers in Colombia who are our family.
Resources on Understanding the “No” Vote:
- Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia (IPC) Statement on No Vote
- Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) Statement on No Vote
- Analysis of “No” Vote from WOLA’s Peace Process Tracking Page
- Analysis of “No” Vote from Michael Joseph of the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ in Colombia
A Prayer for Peaceseekers:
Holy God, you taught us through the life and story of Jesus that “Hospitality involves accepting responsibility to care for the strangers, the ones at our gate, but also those a world away. The biggest obstacle to hospitality is not the state of the world. It is the state of our minds and hearts.”*
Help us transform our minds and hearts today, turning them always toward peace, helping us learn war no more, turning our weapons into tools that sustain life. Transform our hearts and minds, that we might participate in the transformation of systems, policies, and mindsets that claim that war and violence can bring about peace. We know that the only way to bring peace with justice for our sisters and brothers in Colombia and around the world is through nonviolence. Give us the courage to be peacemakers and to follow You alone. Amen.
(*Lonni Collins in Radical Hospitality)
As we continue the ministry of accompaniment we still have spots open for our next training which will take place in Feburary. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more information and to register.
PPF’s ministry of accompaniment in Colombia is only possible through the gifts of churches and people like you. Please give generously by clicking here.