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Colombia, Congo national churches seek stronger relationships with MC Canada
March 13, 2007
Winnipeg, Man. — Within a two day period, Mennonite Church Canada received official letters from four national churches.
A joint letter from three Colombian Anabaptist groups – the Mennonite Church of Colombia (the primary partner of MC Canada), the Mennonite Brethren Church of Colombia, and the Brethren in Christ church, thanks and exhorts Canadian Mennonites. A letter from the Mennonite Church of Congo seeks to re-connect with MC Canada, and provides an update following the first free election there in 40 years.
In a reference to the words of the Apostle Paul, the Colombian letter expresses gratitude: “We too recognize ourselves as debtors for we have received very much from you, through your missionaries, your generosity, and the Anabaptist tradition you hold to. We are also very grateful for the way your society has received thousands of Colombian refugees, who have had to flee their country to save their lives.”
The letter goes on to challenge Canadians on two issues affecting Colombia. One is “the unconditional support the Canadian government has demonstrated in the dangerously flawed negotiation process of the Colombian government with paramilitary groups that have been responsible for untold horror in the last 20 years.” The other challenge is the “lack of federal legislation for Canadian multinational firms operating in the resource extraction industry” citing practices that contribute to “the world’s second largest community of internally displaced persons, surpassed only by Sudan.”
The writers ask for action from Canadian Mennonites by supporting the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia on May 20 – 21, “…so that our witness will be as clear and strong as yours has been.”
They also request political advocacy “… by contacting your parliamentary representatives [and] asking them to support bills that promote and enhance life here and limit weapons and army intervention.”
The letter from the Mennonite Church of Congo is grateful for help over the years in the form of transportation, building refurbishment, Mennonite visitors from Canada, and notes successes in their 2006 “Great Year of Evangelism.”
“The activities in our community continue in a good way despite leadership and financial challenges. Please pray for us, we have faith in Jesus Christ that these difficulties will diminish, above all because of the new and better political atmosphere in our country. We encourage you to multiply your visits to Congo because your counsel and observations are very useful for us” writes Pastor Dr. Adolphe Komuesa K. President.
Both letters can be found below.
Colombia and Congo have experienced considerable civil strife over the last 50 years. Mennonite Church Canada has been a long time supporter of ministries in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Queridos Hermanos y Hermanas de Iglesias Anabautistas en Canadá:
Deseamos saludarles con las palabras del apóstol Pablo a los cristianos en Roma: “En primer lugar, por medio de Jesucristo doy gracias a mi Dios por cada uno de ustedes, porque en todas partes se habla de su fe.” Ciertamente el testimonio perdonador y reconciliador de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Amish en los eventos trágicos recientes que vivieron han impactado al mundo por la manera que modelaron una manera alternativa de responder a la violencia inmerecida.
Pablo sigue diciendo, “Soy deudor…” Nosotros también nos reconocemos deudores, pues hemos recibido mucho de ustedes, por medio de sus misioneros, su generosidad y la tradición anabautista que guardan. También estamos muy agradecidos por la manera que su sociedad le ha dado la bienvenida a miles de refugiados colombianos, que han tenido que huir su patria para salvar sus vidas. Sus iglesias les han dado la bienvenida y ayudado a hacer este ajuste. Por todas estas cosas les damos las gracias y los bendecimos desde el fondo de nuestros corazones.
En una reciente delegación de personas de los EEUU y Canadá que visitaron a Colombia, una persona dijo: “Vivimos con privilegios inmerecidos.” El estaba reconociendo que ustedes en Norte América también son deudores. Aunque su estilo de vida ha sido posible en parte por su creatividad, valores y habilidades empresariales, también ha sido posible por el poder de su economía, corporaciones transnacionales y ejércitos que ejercen influencia alrededor del mundo., Pero ese estilo de vida es perjudicial a los que vivimos en otras partes menos privilegiadas del mundo. Por ejemplo para el medioambiente significa que 25% de las emisiones dañinas a la atmósfera, vienen de 6% de la población del mundo que vive en Norte América, lo que a su vez causa sequías y desertificación en otras partes del mundo. Así que como ven, nuestras vidas están entrelazadas en muchas maneras, así a veces no queramos. En cuanto a Colombia, hay dos asuntos que deben inquietar a los ciudadanos canadienses y a sus iglesias. Uno es el apoyo incondicional que el gobierno canadiense ha manifestado en el muy cuestionado proceso de negociación del gobierno colombiano con los grupos paramilitares que han sido responsables por horrores indescriptibles durante los últimos veinte años. El otro es la falta de legislación federal para las firmas multinacionales canadienses operando en la industria minera, una industria que ha sido notoria por emplear técnicas cuestionables de adquisición de tierras, incluyendo el uso de fuerza paramilitar en el desplazamiento de comunidades. Estas dos áreas de políticas son especialmente alarmantes en vista de que Colombia es segunda en el mundo en desplazados internos superado sólo por Sudan.
¿Cómo podemos trabajar juntas y juntos por un mundo mejor para todos?
En primer término, les pedimos que se unan en los próximos Días de Oración y Acción por Colombia los días 20 y 21de mayo, que están siendo convocados por la Coalición por la Paz en Colombia. Por favor oren por Colombia, por un fin de la guerra de 60 años aquí, y por la Iglesia Menonita, Hermanos Menonitas, y Hermandad en Cristo, para que nuestro testimonio sea tan claro y tan fuerte como ha sido el de ustedes.
Por favor actúen comunicándose con sus congresistas pidiéndoles que apoyen legislación que promueva y aumente la vida aquí y limiten intervenciones a través de armas y fuerzas militares.
Les pedimos que instruyan a la oficina de MCC en Ottawa que a nombre de las iglesias anabautistas que representan, hagan incidencia en dirección a la paz y justicia y ayuden a los votantes y constituyente entender los asuntos a la mano.
Cuando lleguen las elecciones, por favor voten en contra de candidatos que apoyan políticas de guerra en cualquier parte del mundo, y apoyen candidatos que buscan relaciones más justas y reconciliadas entre países. Al fin y al cabo, eso es lo que Dios quiere, según Miqueas 4.3.
Por favor examinen los efectos de su estilo de vida sobre el resto del mundo y trabajen por el bienestar ambiental; sean generosos y consideren perdonar las deudas que aplastan a los países y aun a las iglesias en el Sur del globo.
Por último, y más importante, les animamos a fortalecer sus iglesias locales con la visión de llamar a hombres y mujeres al seguimiento de Jesús, y crecer juntos en comunidades anabautistas de fe, para transformar al mundo hacia la intención de Dios.
Gracias por estar con nosotras y nosotros en estos tiempos difíciles. Estamos seguros que cuando el pueblo de Dios se une en la búsqueda de la voluntad del Príncipe de Paz, llegará un mejor día para las gentes del mundo, llevando a que muchos de ellos alaben a nuestro Señor Jesucristo por las riquezas de su sabiduría y la generosidad de su gracia salvadora.
Que Dios les colme de sabiduría y fortaleza para las tareas que Dios les da.
Israel Arturo Orrego,
Dear Sisters and Brothers of Anabaptist Churches of Canada,
We wish to greet you with the words of the Apostle Paul to the Roman Christians: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because the whole world is hearing about your faith.” Certainly the forgiving and reconciling witness of our Amish brothers and sisters in the recent tragic events that struck them has impacted the world, as they modeled an alternative way of responding to undeserved violence.
Paul goes on to say, “For I am a debtor…” We too recognize ourselves as debtors for we have received very much from you, through your missionaries, your generosity, and the Anabaptist tradition you hold to. We are also very grateful for the way your society has received thousands of Colombian refugees, who have had to flee their country to save their lives. Your churches have welcomed them and helped them in this adjustment. For all these things we thank you and bless you from the bottom of our hearts.
A person on a recent delegation from Canada and the U.S. visiting Colombia said: “We live with undeserved privilege” He was recognizing that you folks in North America also are debtors.
While your life style has been enabled in part by your creativity, values, and entrepreneurial skills, it has also been made possible by the power of your economy, transnational corporations and armies exercising influence around the world. But that life style is harmful to those of us in other less privileged parts of the world. For the environment for instance it means that 25% of harmful emissions to the atmosphere come from 6% of the world’s North American population, which in turn brings drought and desertification. So you see, our lives are intertwined, in many ways, some of which we wish they weren’t.
In regard to Colombia there are two issues which should unsettle Canadian citizens and your churches. One is the unconditional support the Canadian government has demonstrated in the dangerously flawed negotiation process of the Colombian government with paramilitary groups that have been responsible for untold horror in the last 20 years. The other is the lack of federal legislation for Canadian multinational firms operating in the resource extraction industry - an industry that has been notorious for employing questionable techniques in land acquisition, including the use of paramilitary forces in the displacement of communities. These two areas of policy are particularly alarming given that Colombia is home to the world’s second largest community of internally displaced persons, surpassed only by Sudan.
How can we work together for a better world for all of us?
First of all we ask you to join in the upcoming Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia on the 20th and 21st of May, which are being convened by the Coalition for Peace in Colombia. Please pray for Colombia, for an end to the 60 year old war here, and for the Mennonite, Mennonite Brethren and Brethren in Christ churches here so that our witness will be as clear and strong as yours has been.
Please act by contacting your parliamentary representatives asking them to support bills that promote and enhance life here and limit weapons and army intervention. We ask you to instruct the MCC office in Ottawa in the name of the Anabaptist churches they represent to lobby in this manner and help the constituent voters to understand the issues at hand.
When elections come up, please vote against all candidates that support policies of warfare anywhere in the world, and back candidates which seek more just and reconciled relationships between countries around the world. After all, that’s what Micah 4.3 says that God desires.
Please examine the effects your life style has on the rest of the world and work for environmental wellbeing. Please be generous by considering forgiving the debts that are crushing the countries and even the churches of the Southern world.
Lastly and most importantly, we encourage you to strengthen your local churches with the vision of calling men and women to follow Jesus, to grow together in Anabaptist communities of faith, to transform the world around you to God’s intention.
Thank you for being with us through these difficult times. We are sure that as God’s people unite in seeking the will of the Prince of Peace, a better day for all the world’s people will emerge, leading many of them to praise our Lord Jesus Christ for the wisdom, richness and generosity of his saving grace.
May God fill you with wisdom and strength for the necessary tasks God gives you.
Arturo Orrego, General Secretary
February 28, 200
News from the Mennonite Church of Congo since the 2004 General Assembly at Kikwit
To sisters and brothers of the Mennonite Churches of the United States, Canada and Europe,
I have the joy of greeting you and wishing you a Happy New Year 2007. May God our Father assist you in all your daily activities.
I would like to share with you some of the situation of our community. I know that it is the first time that written news is being shared with you in this way. I’m inviting you to read attentively.
As of April 2007 it will be three years since I was elected President of the Mennonite Church of Congo. Immediately our national committee team got to work. We held our first Administrative Council meetings at our headquarters in Kanzala, Tshikapa. Among other decisions, we recommended that a financial audit be done on the four year period immediately preceding my term as President. Unfortunately no clear financial reporting of this period is available.
Our projects are succeeding according to the outline in our Three Year Plan. Transportation is a major issue in Congo, where drivable roads are rare. To respond to our need to maintain contact with the far flung rural churches which constitute the heartland of the Congolese Mennonite community, we have purchased three motorbikes and two used but quite functional four wheel drive vehicles. Our team has also repaired and re-equipped houses and offices at our headquarters with funds received from our Mennonite sisters and brothers from the USA and Canada. Our agricultural development organization, PPP/SEDA, has increased our cattle herd from 12 to 32. We raise many rabbits and some hogs, despite some management problems that we have experienced in the past. We are assisting our retired pastors with gifts to each of 2500 Congolese francs (around $5 US) per month. These pastors are unable to work anymore, and our national committee is helping them. We have also reopened our bookstore, located at our headquarters.
The arrival of Arnold and Leslie Harder from Mountain Lake, Minnesota in January 2007 cheered us up. Their desire was to travel from Tshikapa to the Lubilu Forest in order to install the mobile saw mill that our church purchased recently as an income-generating project. Very unfortunately it became impossible due to road conditions including a number of stuck vehicles blocking a river ford, and they were obliged to abandon this plan.
At our first General Assembly meeting held in the Dibumba area of Tshikapa, we declared that 2006 would be a Great Year of Evangelism for our entire church community. We said it, and we did it. We took the Jesus film for the first time to the following locations: Kanzala, Nyanga, Malanga, Banga and Mashashana. The film attracted entire villages to the showings. An interesting event happened at Mashashana, where the entire village transferred its church loyalty to us following the film. Now, they are worshipping with us in the Congo Mennonite Church.
This film which we have in three Congolese languages - Kituba, Lingala, and Tshiluba - helps us to share the information about the life of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in such a way as to move people to commitment.
We also prepare radio broadcasts about ‘The Culture of Peace’ each Tuesday.
The vehicle that was purchased recently with the help of many of you, has greatly aided us to travel to the far reaches of our community in order to ordain pastoral candidates who have already been approved by the General Assembly.
We are flattered by the many recent visits of American and Canadian brothers and sisters, and also by the recent visit of our colleagues from the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Congo and the Mennonite Brethren Church of Congo.
The activities in our community continue in a good way despite leadership and financial challenges. Please pray for us, we have faith in Jesus Christ that these difficulties will diminish, above all because of the new and better political atmosphere in our country. We encourage you to multiply your visits to Congo because your counsel and observations are very useful for us.
I hope to provide news like this on an ongoing and regular basis.
We also thank the Foundation that is assisting the Miodi Technical High School with sewing machines that we present to successfully graduating students at the end of each year. These gifts are encouraging more young women to receive training at the school. By God’s grace, this year under the leadership of Mama Bernadette Manya all graduating students passed the state final exams- in the commercial branch, 32/32, and in the sewing branch, 16/16.
For the Mennonite Church of Congo
Pastor Dr. Adolphe Komuesa K.