Check out a video I’ve put together from my experience this weekend.
Unfortunately, one of the images that many people have as they think Colombia is one of violence. Colombia has suffered from a history of violence, unrest and conflict. While huge strides have been made to curb the violence, to create alternatives to violence, to restore public spaces and work towards a peaceful solution to the armed conflict, still there is conflict. I don’t see it as much where I live and many times Medellin is touted as the model city that has been able to break free from it’s violent past and become a vibrant, flourishing city. Still, you can’t turn on the news without being reminded of the violence that continues – domestic violence, gang violence, the armed conflict between rebel groups and the government, etc.
This weekend I had the unique opportunity to be a part of a gathering for an ecumenical women’s network, which focuses on peace-building initiatives throughout Colombia. There were around 50 women who participated, both Catholic and Evangelical, and the three days together included times of sharing, learning, reflecting, and planning. It was a humbling experience to be there and listen to all that these women are involved in and sacrificial nature in which they serve. They are in some of the most violent neighborhoods, violent rural communities, working with victims of abuse, victims of the armed conflict who have been displaced, mothers who’s children are missing, etc. My conversations with some of the nuns in particular left me speechless as I listened to their stories. I’m thankful for my time with them because it shook me out of my comfort zone.
Mary Lou Sander and I were asked to share with the participants a workshop on “Women in the Bible,” and I was asked to serve as translator for a representative who was there from the US Institute of Peace. The whole weekend was one of being stretched, many times beyond what I thought myself capable of. But, I am so thankful for the opportunity to connect with these precious women and to learn from them and share with them. I look forward to the other encounters I will have with them in the future.