COLOMBIA: Colombian Mennonites and CPTers Begin Choir Tour



December 17, 2002

COLOMBIA: Colombian Mennonites and CPTers Begin Choir


With tears, laughter, and a laying on of hands,

members of the Colombian Mennonite community, in a

December 12 worship service, commissioned the

Colombian and North American participants of a CPT

Christmas choir delegation to Barrancabermeja.

CPTers Lisa Brightup, Kathleen Kern, Pierre Shantz,

and Matthew Wiens will join Adaía Bernal, Julian

Carreño, Sandra Rincon, and Mennonite Mission Network

volunteer Janine Martin on a singing tour of the

violent and lawless area around Barrancabermeja. The

struggle for control between guerillas,

paramilitaries, and the Colombian army regularly

causes civilian casualties in this area.

“The weapons that you go with are not the weapons of

this world,” Pastor Peter Stucky told the delegation.

“You also go in an unexpected way, not with the

weapons that the armed groups here use, but with

weapons that seem inoffensive–with songs and

prayers–that disarm hearts and make people think in a

different way.” He then told the assembly: “This group

is a manifestation of who we are as a church.”

During worship, the Colombian delegation participants

shared their reflections on the upcoming trip and its

inherent risks.

Carreño, a young conscientious objector who had gone

on a previous delegation to Barrancabermeja, noted

that he had been an atheist until he came into contact

with other conscientious objectors supported by the

Colombian Mennonite church. “As I worked through the

church-related events, my atheism was destroyed,

especially when I went to Barranca where I met the God

of justice that so inspires. And I understood

immediately that God is not present in enslaving

apathy. I understood that one can only feel the Divine

when one consecrates life. In effect, consecrating

life is to live with and for your neighbor, to

struggle for justice, to accompany those who are

suffering and in short, to love your neighbor.”

Rincon, a psychologist who works at the National

University, said, “When we start thinking about our

life, we start generating fears because we perceive it

as the most important thing we have and we don’t want

to lose it. And so I think it is important that we

have to accept that life is passing by with every

breath, every thought, and every feeling. . . . Of

course I feel anxiety and fear and I think about my

family. But the security of my convictions makes me

live and I believe it allows those around me to live.”

The group will travel in the region until December 21,

singing for different churches, organizations, and

displaced families with whom CPT works. The Colombian

participants will then return to Bogota and share

their experiences with their home congregations.


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