Courage in the face of adversity

Courage in the face of adversity

The people of El Tamarindo, their courage, their beauty, and their stories, reside in my heart. In my desire to learn more about this community I came across the attached article. It provides a background to the human rights violations these people face daily. May we find the courage to stand beside, and take action alongside, these family members so that they receive the justice they deserve. Amen.


Displaced and Duty-Free in El Tamarindo, Colombia North American Congress on Latin America.pdf

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Karla’s blog entry

The Resistance Will Be Witnessed and Televised – La Resistencia Sera Testigual y Televisada

She looked into their eyes and told the women that the love of her life is agriculture and the earth. &I used to have a fish pond, chickens, fruit and vegetable crops&, she said. Her eyes spoke in the ancient ways their grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s spoke. Her warm and rough hands firmly griped their arms and hands. They felt her roots grow deeper in the soiled earth. Without blinking, her eyes and lips spoke a cry, a cry for the utopia of hunger. A cry to place and replace what’s been perpetually and intentionally displaced. &Pray for me. Pray for my granchildren. Pray for my daughter. Pray for the unity of my community.& The women understood and began speaking the same love language and bitter-sweet tears. Together they wove and braided a circle of sister-hood, a circle of prayer, a circle of hope and resistance, a circle of liberation and healing, a circle perfectly birthed by the love and power of God. They cried, prayed, laughed, talked, sang, walked, hoped, witnessed….and resisted.

We overcome this wind.

We desire the rain to fall, that it be poured in showers quickly. Ah, thou rain, I adjure thee fall.

If thou rainest, it is well. A drizzling confusion.

If it rains and our food ripens, it is well.

If the young men sing, it is well. A drizzling confusion.

If our grain ripens, it is well. If our women rejoice, If the children rejoice, If the young men sing, If the aged rejoice,

An Overflowing in the granary

A torrent in flow,

If the wind veers to the south, it is well. If the rain veers to the south, it is well.

John S. Mbiti

By Karla Perez-Cordero

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Claudia’s Blog

Claudia’s Blog

The people I had the privilege to meet became living biblical narratives. Their courage inspired me. Their faith deepened my own. Their agency, beauty, and desire to live a life filled with hope caused me to ponder how I respond to the trials I encounter. Their wisdom enthralled me. Their belief in God humbled me. Their beauty captivated me. The children, women, and men I met challenged my world-view. They exposed my insecurities and cultural preferences. Their honesty and willingness to cry, and feel, and touch reminded me not to self-edit my thoughts or hold back my emotions when I pray to God.

So often during my journey through Colombia our devotional readings reflected much of my daily experiences. Each poem, each scripture passage, gave me the opportunity to reflect on the relevancy of scripture and poetry to my every day life. And so, I leave you with some of the poems and biblical passages that ministered to me. May they bless you as they have blessed me — if not more.

To be of the Earth is to know

the restlessness of being a seed

the darkness of being planted

the struggle toward the light

the pain of growth into the light

the joy of bursting and bearing fruit

the love of being food for someone

the scattering of your seeds

the decay of the seasons

the mystery of death

and the miracle of birth

John Soos


From that which we fear, make us fearless.

O bounteous One, assist us with your aid.

May the atmosphere we breathe

breathe fearlessness into us:

fearlessness on earth

and fearlessness in heaven!

May fearlessness surround us

above and below!

May we be without fear

By night and by day!

Let all the world be my friend!

Atharva Veda XIX



Oil and incense make the heart glad,

and the sweetness of friends

comes from their advice

Don’t desert your friend

or a friend of your family;

don’t go to your relative’s house

when disaster strikes.

Better a neighbor nearby

than a relative far away

Proverbs 27: 9-10


Rich people think they are wise,

but an insightful poor person

sees through them.

Proverbs 28: 11


Observe those who have integrity

and watch those whose heart is right

because the future belongs to persons of peace

Psalm 37:37

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Theodicy in Mampujan.


Our visit to the department (state) of Sucre started with our evening arrival in Sincelejo.

A change of menu from our previous meals of caldo, arroz, yucca and plantains. A change of view from the metropolitan cities of Bogota and Barranquilla. Sincelejo is a small city reeling from the social and physical ramifications of the constant displacements that are exaggeratedly so in this region 20km from the Pacific coast. Of a population of 230,000, at least 100,000 persons are the victims of forcible displacements. Unlike Bogota, there is no way to exist in Sincelejo without being aware of what is happening in Colombia.

We met with Ricardo Esquivia of Sembrando Paz; which: “Based on the traditions of the Mennonite Church, Sembrandopaz is devoted to living out the word of God through community, peace, and service.” (See Through interpretation by fellow justice worker and wife, Lillian, we came to know of this story of sadness and hope.

Our vans took us from breakfast and a brief shopping opportunity (homemade soaps, jewelry and hibiscus grown on farms sponsored by the Mennonites) to Mampujan. A small village that on Friday, March 10, 2000 at 4pm as children were playing futbol in the open center space, they were besieged by paramilitary forces that came over the hills. All persons were gathered in the village center. They were then told they were to lose their lives on that day. All frightened and beseeching. Their priest told them to call on God.

There was another call. Radio, maybe. Not cell phone yet. The man with the gun in charge got a call. The people of Mampujan were to be spared that day. Spared their lives. “Take what you can and leave now.” No boxes, suitcases. The villagers carried what they could in their hands. Their homes were ransacked of any valuable items and other precious belongings destroyed by the paramilitary.

As the paramilitaries left, the priest then told them to thank God for sparing their lives that day. As they cried out blessings to the Lord, they knew that in the next village, the inhabitants would not have God’s blessing. 60 members of the next neighboring village were massacred. Their cries to God unanswered.

I could not help my tears and anger. But for the grace of God, one village is spared and one is massacred. The cries of mothers, fathers and children are not answered by “grace of God?”

It started to rain as we walked in the gentle heat. Big drops that I could feel through the short hair on my head. Splashing on my scalp. Sounding in my head. Warm drops, that helped relieve the heat. That tried to wash away this feeling of hopelessness and sadness for the village that did lose its life, if not the lives of its people. Anger at God, for not being able to give that grace to the other village that died. To the children and families that called on God to save them.

How do I learn of new words to describe pain? Why?

We walked quickly back to our vans, through mud that reminded me of the red clay of Georgia. Made me think of slaves running for their lives through swamps and mud and rain, with only the belief that God would make a way through dangerous territory until freedom was found. Mud caked on sneakers and hiking shoes-not on the roughened bare feet of those forcible displaced. Enslaved.


Nuevo Mampujan. Kids playing in the rain – an impromptu waterpark. Sliding on cement, standing under drainpipes. Throwing balls to make the water splash higher. Playing tag and jumping in pooling puddles. Laughter and joy at the gift of rain from God. Is this the grace of God? The prayers answered?

We ate a bountiful lunch of caldo de res and strawberry apple soda. We viewed the quilts that showed the images of raped and slaughtered women and paramilitaries and decapitated bodies of men and children. As we stepped back into our vans, tracking the red clay, we tried to hold the smiles and remember the blood lost. We continued to Cartagena, where the displaced drive the streets with horses and carts amongst the taxis and motorcycles that mark “progress.”


-Dorian Duren

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Bienvenidos al Cielo

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Mother Earth Knows

If the land could speak,It would speak for us.
It would say, like us, that the years
Have forged the bond of life that ties us together.
It was our labor that made the land she is;
And it was her yielding that gave us life.
We and the land are one!

But who would listen?
Will they listen,
Those invisible,
Who, from an unfeeling distance, claim
The land is theirs?
Because pieces of paper say so?
Because the pieces of paper are backed by men
Who speak threatening words;
Men who have power to shoot and to kill,
Men who have power to take our men and our sons away.

If the land could speak!
It would speak for us!
For the land is us!
-Macli-ing Dulag, highway labourer from the Igorot indigenous tribe in the Philippines

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The power of prayer, Jakada Imani

One of the most powerful constants for me was to be able to pray with and for the peoples and communities I met with during our trip.

In general, I am unaccustomed to praying for folks that I am not in deep community with. For one thing it feels presumptions to offer prayer to folks who my country finances and benefits from the murder and forced displacement of. I should do a hella a lot more then just pray to atone for sins committed in my name. I was moved time and again how warmly our offers to pray for and with them were received. And by how after that prayer, the sharing that had taken place in that circle was anchored even more firmly in the love of God.

In El Tamarindo I got to see the most powerful prayer circle. As we finished one of the most amazing meals I had while in Colombia, I walked up to find a few of the women ChangeMakers, deep in prayer with some of the woman from the community. These woman were calling on the power of prayer across language, across culture and across boarders to unite in the love, power and presence of the Divine.

I will forever be changed by the power of prayer that I discovered in the villages and cities of Colombia.

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En Colombia

En Colombia
March 28, 2014


My soul is lead-en

I don’t have the write pen-cil

To love the paper

Horse on the highway

Rocks, trees, God, walk to heaven

Takes my breath away

Is there translation?

The meaning worth more than word

Echoes in the air

Anger on the land

The children know no despair?

There is soup. Come eat.

To sing of the blood

Hot breath. Skin. Rides in the dark

Pedialyte lips.

Voice your true name now

In a language with no hurt

With me, dance too close.

Touch the deception

Hard, hands sticky sugar cane

Out slips slick palm. Oil.

Mothers’ child with gun

My mind is crazy with fear

Who are the actors?


by Dorian Leslie

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