By Katie Isaza
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA (October 23, 2017) – A new five-module certificate course on “Peace and Reconciliation as Christian Commitment” graduated its first 30 participants recently, and the graduates already are influencing the lives of people who have suffered decades of nationwide violence.
The course was an initiative of the Colombian Covenant Youth Organization, and the majority of the students were young adults. Pastors, lay leaders, and Covenant missionaries also participated. Throughout the year they came together from large cities and small towns to learn together and to be equipped to serve as peacemakers.
One participant, Estefania, who lives in a small town, says the course helped her to find and offer forgiveness in order to be reconciled and accompany others who need to experience reconciliation. For the past several months, she and another participant, Diva, have met weekly with 50 adolescents to discuss what it means to be agents of peace in a community that experiences violence.
“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,” said Covenant missionary Julio Isaza.
Isaza taught the module on the biblical basis for peace and will work with 10 course graduates charged with developing a national initiative based on project proposals turned in by conferences of the Colombian Covenant Church.
For the past 60 years Colombia has been immersed in a number of armed conflicts with entities ranging from guerrilla to paramilitary groups, to narcotics dealers and criminal gangs. The violence has displaced more than six million people.
Jader Ochoa, president of the Colombian Covenant Youth Organization, said, “Colombian youth have the challenge of being the primary protagonists in the peace process in our country. 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.”
In a video, graduates shared how the course encouraged them to be agents of peace and reconciliation in their violence-ravaged country.
The students know there is much work to be done and that it can be dangerous. At the recent graduation ceremony, 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.
The Colombian students were encouraged and humbled as Husby quoted Njaramba, saying, “We must preach peace at all cost.”
Covenant World Relief funded scholarships for young adults to participate in the course.
Katie Isaza and her husband, Julio, serve as Covenant missionaries in Colombia.