This is just the beginning

“What does it mean to be peacemakers in a country whose history is filled with violence and armed conflict? How does the Bible give us a basis for developing a theology of peace and reconciliation that is lived out in our local communities? How do we advocate for and counsel those who have suffered in the conflict?

These are just some of the questions that guided a five-module certificate course on “Peace and Reconciliation as the Christian Commitment” that 30 participants from the Covenant Church of Colombia completed this past weekend in Medellin. The course was an initiative of the Colombian Covenant Youth Organization and the majority of the students were young adults, but also included pastors, lay leaders, and Covenant missionaries. Throughout the year they came together to learn and to be equipped to serve as peacemakers. The course was offered through the Biblical University and Seminary of Colombia and the Covenant was the first denomination to begin the course, which is now being offered across the country. What was a year ago a dream is today a reality.

Estefania receives her certificate

Participants will tell you that the course pushed them to think about the reality of their country and the role that God has for them in being agents of peace and reconciliation.  Estefania, from a small town, shares that this course has helped her to find forgiveness and offer forgiveness in order to be reconciled and accompany others who need to experience reconciliation. She and others, including Diva who also participated in the certificate course, have begun working with adolescents in their community and for the past couple months have had 50 adolescents coming together on a weekly basis to learn what it means to be agents of peace in a community that has experienced and continues to experience violence. Diana, who works with environmental projects and often visits rural areas, shared that this course has equipped her professionally as she has new tools for interacting with rural communities that have often suffered the consequences of violence. One thing is certain, people are hungry to know and experience the gospel of peace and the people of God, the church, is the vehicle through which God’s Spirit can work to bring peace and reconciliation.

This is just the beginning. A group of 10 participants have been given the challenge to work together to create a project that will impact local communities and put into action what they have learned through the course of this year. Jader Ochoa, president of the Colombian Covenant’s youth organization says, “Colombian youth have the challenge of being the primary protagonists in the peace process in Colombia. This is an opportunity for the youth of the Covenant Churches in Colombia to proclaim reconciliation to all Colombians. It is in this historic moment that the Covenant youth of Colombia want to be present and contribute to the construction of peace and reconciliation.”

During the graduation ceremony this past weekend David Husby, director of Covenant World Relief, shared the story of John Njaramba, the moderator of the Covenant Church of Kenya who was killed during an ambush as he was leaving a peace seminar. David shared John’s words, which both challenged and humbled the Colombians who were graduating “We must preach peace at all cost.” This is the call. Pray for this group of peacemakers in Colombia and pray for the many others that will live into this call.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

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