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The Lacey family-our mission partners in Colombia

Chris and Vera Lacey are mission partners working with the Colombian Methodist Church. They live in Medellin with their daughters, Sofie and Abigail, who now have typical Colombian accents when they speak in Spanish and are learning to cook Colombian food!

Vera is helping the church improve its capacity to develop, manage and evaluate community projects, with a view to finding new sources of funding, making the church’s social work more effective and increasing its impact on local communities. Once such project that is being developed is a project in the city of Bucaramanga, the capital city of the Santander department and 200 km from the Venezuelan border. It is currently estimated that over 1 million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia due to eye-watering rates of inflation, the lack of employment, severely depressed salaries, severe food, basic goods and medicine shortages. Governmental financial mismanagement and a refusal to accept international aid has caused Venezuelans to leave the country by any means necessary, often by foot through Colombia. Colombia is not coping with the strain of receiving such a large number of external migrants, given that is still struggling to cope with consequences of 7 million internally displaced Colombians (as a result of the decades long armed conflict).

Bucaramanga is currently receiving 400 Venezuelan migrants a day, 40% of whom are not legally in the country, and therefore have no access to state healthcare or education. Vera is supporting the local Methodist Church located in Bucaramanga to develop a project proposal which will offer education to Venezuelan migrant children, helping to give them a sense of normality whilst at the same time using their contact with the parents as an opportunity to offer them immigration advice and advice on how to access state services and services offered by other local NGOs The project would also support pregnant mothers or families with babies with food parcels. For more information on the work the church is developing in Bucaramanga please see here, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to hear about how the largest mass migration in Latin America is affecting the entire region.

Chris has been developing the IT tools and internet platforms that the Colombian Methodist Church needs in order to best share with their partners and supporters the work they are doing across the country through their local churches. Part of his job is to train local lay pastors and ministers to take advantage of the website, updating and uploading information and news from their local churches. Please see the amazing work Chris has been doing on the church website here.

Every blessing,

Sandra

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Indigenous ministry with the Zenu community

We have just heard the report from Revd Danilo Diaz om the work the church is doing with two indigenous communities-the Zenu Methodist community and the Wayuu community.

The Colombian Methodist Church has been working with the Zenu community in the Sucre department (Caribbean coast) since 2009. Indigenous communities in the country suffer the most discrimination among various other vulnerable groups. This discrimination and social injustice affects their culture, their way of life, access to their lands and their livelihoods, so the church is working hard alongside the Zenu community to help them defend their way of life and preserve their dignity as indigenous Colombians.

Revd Danilo reported that the Coventry circuit had been supporting part of their work through the church’s livelihoods projects , by helping them purchase machinery that will enable the community to increase and expand its production of items made from woven cane, or caña flecha, which will not only improve the local economy of the community, but will also help to preserve one of the remaining remnants of Zenu culture that the community is holding on to and one that has become a national symbol of Colombia (the sombrero vueltiao : http://www.colombia.co/en/this-is-colombia/culture/colombias-national-symbols/ ).

For more information please see the church’s website and watch this video:

https://youtu.be/MlUZyXAjwH0

Chris Lacey, who is in Colombia with Vera Lacey and their two daughters as British mission partners, has been instrumental in developing the church’s website and training its ministers in how to use the website to develop their advocacy and communication of the work they are doing locally. I will write more about Chris and Vera a bit later!

Every blessing

Sandra

The Colombian Methodist Church elects a new Bishop

I am currently in Colombia attending the Colombia Methodist Church’s national assembly. It is amazing to see that despite being a relatively small church in the country (5,000 members), it is a church that is representative of Colombia’s major ethnic groupings including Afro-Colombians and indigenous Colombians. Representatives from local churches from all over the country are here and yesterday, a new Bishop was elected as president of the church for the next quadrennial. Revd Luis Andres Caicedo (third from the left on the photo), Superintendent in the Cartagena district, was overwhelmingly elected by the assembly. Please join me in congratulating Revd Luis Andres and praying for him as he begins his ministry! Please also pray for the newly elected executive board who was elected yesterday.

Every blessing,

Sandra

MCSA Conference

MCSA is promoting a ‘youth and child centred’ church this Connexional year. The Mozambique Methodist children challenged the Conference by asking why it took 128 years before conveying the meeting in Mozambique in 2018. The Mozambique Minister for Gender and Interior affairs welcomed all MCSA participants after which the IWMW children presented three wonderful songs.
The youth led worship and the women choirs presented few songs at the MCSA conference. The Presiding Bishop later shared a challenging sermon, inviting us to support ‘child friendly’ and ‘youth friendly’ churches all over the Connexion by shaping tomorrow, today.

Blessings
Bunmi in Maputo

Sent from my iPad

MCSA Conference

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa celebrates its 129th Conference in Mozambique today at 15.00 hours. Its theme is ‘Shaping tomorrow, today’. Below are the Presiding Bishop- Rev Zipho Siwa with the Gen Sec – Rev Charmaine Morgan, the Lay President plus Vanessa for record keeping.

Below is Bishop Dinis Matsolo delivering the opening address to all. Each day holds a surprise only if we expect it. Today is historic, being the only time the MCSA conference has been held in Mozambique.

Everyone was welcome to the Conference that starts today 3 September and ends on Sunday 9 September 2018. Thank you.

Blessings from Maputo
Bunmi Olayisade

Sent from my iPad

Justice

Like several of our group I fell foul of a Sri Lankan stomach bug this week, hence fewer posts than usual. Nevertheless most of us kept to our itinerary of riveting encounters. These families were displaced from their village near Mannar, but on returning they have found it occupied by naval personnel and are told that ‘Security reasons ‘ mean the villagers may not return. They are living here under the trees, with no facilities while a variety of promises and misinformation from government have yielded no solution. This is not an isolated incident. The may have been over for almost a decade but peace and justice remain out of reach for many.
Steve

Mannar

The village mosque was the setting for the first of our conversations in the north with people who had been forced to leave their homes during the war and were returning now to try and rebuild their lives. All of the members of our group were invited into the mosque to hear about the eviction of the Muslims from the north of the island in 1990, these villagers returned in 2011 to find their ruined homes reclaimed by the forest.
Rebuilding peace and trust is the major challenge, however.
Steve