Posted: March 18, 2021
The International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) is made up of 21 national churches in 19 countries with approximately 450,000 members. ICOMB exists to facilitate relationships and ministries to enhance the witness and discipleship of its member national churches – connecting, strengthening and expanding.
The Church in Colombia
Colombia is a country with extremes: with traces of ancient cultures and the latest technology; places of law and order and insurgent groups and anarchy; with peace and prosperity and guerrilla war and poverty; places with fast growing and stagnating and diminishing churches. Here is an MB Family of churches, which began with missionary work 70 years ago. The churches are spread over the country, each in a very different environment and socioeconomic context. These differences are strongly felt in the churches.
Asociación de Iglesias Hermanos Menonitas de Colombia (AIHMC), consists of three (legally independent) regional conferences, each with an strong regional focus and a very limited national one. In 2019 they organized a national retreat and meetings with the leadership of all three regions and began to intentionally seek a national vision for the conference and take steps towards a joint work. Uniting the regions has been a blessing for the conference. This renewed conference unity also contributed to the mission agency, Heme Aquí, getting legal status.
Heme Aquí (Here I am) is a Mission agency that has served the Colombian MB conference for many years in church planting, youth mission activities, etc. In recent years it was clear that having legal status would increase opportunities to serve and make fundraising easier. Amidst all the challenges of last year, they were able to obtain legal status and set goals for the future in a way that was not possible before. The mission agency works in partnership with Multiply and will also work with the MB mission agency in Brazil.
One of the regions in the west, on the Pacific coast, called Chocó, is a place with very lovely people, a history of suffering and a challenging present. Most are descendants of people enslaved in the 19th century. There are 17 MB churches witnessing the love of Christ in sometimes very precarious conditions. The region has many different guerrilla groups that control an area or hide from the police.
One joint work of the Chocó regional conference with MCC called “Fundación Para el Desarrollo Agrícola – Tejiendo Esperanza,” offers training for farmers, helps them to set up their field and get the best seed for that region (cacao, rice etc.), and store their grain to get a fair price, etc. The Fundación has made an important contribution in that region. It is done in the name of Christ, is identified with the churches, and has become an important part of their testimony.
Let’s pray for Chocó! Lack of work opportunities is pressing upon many families. May God give the churches the Spirit to proclaim the power of the gospel, so that many more may be transformed through Jesus.