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Better Together provides a space to share experiences with – and strategies for engaging – three critical global issues that PC(USA) global partners are challenging us to address together as the body of Christ.  These three issues are 1) addressing root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; 2) sharing the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and 3) working for reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own.  The purpose of Better Together is to feed a conversation to shape concrete action strategies at the October 2012 “Dallas II: Better Together” consultation and beyond. 

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August 13, 2012

Working for Evangelism, Education, & Social Services in Colombia

Rev. Diego Higuita is the General Secretary of the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia (Presbyterian Church of Colombia, IPC). He has been a pastor for over 10 years, mostly serving in the rural Presbytery of Urabá. He has a wife, Neiza, and two daughters who are 11 and 17 years old. The IPC is celebrating its 156th year this year, and has as part of its Mission Plan three emphases: education, evangelizism, and social service.

“El Espíritu del Señor esta sobre mí, por cuanto me ha ungido para dar buenas nuevas a los pobres; me ha enviado a sanar a los quebrantados de corazón; a pregonar libertad a los cautivos, a dar vista a los ciegos; a poner en libertad a los oprimidos; a predicar el año agradable del Señor” Lucas 4:18-19.

Este texto ha sido escogido por la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia como base bíblica del Plan de Misión para los próximos cinco años. Con este texto, la IPC se ha inspirado para reflexionar sobre las acciones que debe desarrollar tanto como institución, como comunidad de fe desde las iglesias locales e instituciones de servicio.

Uno de los aspectos que ha de considerar una iglesia hoy es su razón de ser y su justificación de existencia en este mundo, y de hecho, una iglesia que solo vive para sí misma y gira alrededor de sí misma, debe evaluar su justificación en el presente y en el futuro. No se trata de evadir el valor que tiene el crecimiento institucional y el crecimiento de la membresía, sino que ha de tomar en serio su rol profético de ser la luz del mundo, es decir que una iglesia que considera seriamente su rol evangelizador fuera las paredes del templo, y en este sentido, evangelizar contempla todos los enfoques de acción de la iglesia.

Cuando la Iglesia se involucra en espacios y acciones que apuntan sobre temas álgidos de la humanidad, temas como el hambre, la pobreza, la exclusión, la injusticia, la inequidad, la violencia en todas sus expresiones, es realmente cuando está haciendo evangelización. Es una iglesia que ha entendido que la Palabra de Dios que transforma, entiende que Jesús proclamó el Reino de Dios desde la esperanza para lo más desfavorecidos de los sistemas humanos, que el Reino de Dios es para los pobres, para los excluidos, para los que sufren a causa de abuso de los poderosos. La Iglesia del presente y del futuro será aquella que asuma de manera humilde y firme esa vocación de enfocar sus acciones y contenidos desde el mensaje profundo de Jesús en amor hacia lo que están desamparados de los sistemas humanos.

La iglesia debe entender la evangelización en forma amplia, es decir que anuncia el mensaje de Jesús, que obviamente buscará que nuevas personas sean cautivadas por esa Palabra de Dios que transforma vidas y que hace que las iglesias locales crezcan numéricamente, y así fortalecidas las iglesias locales, se fortalece también las instituciones de servicio, pero no se trata solamente de de llenar templos. El resultado final de la evangelización ha de ser las transformaciones de las estructuras y sistemas que hacen que haya pobreza, desigualdad, inequidad, exclusión, injusticia en algo parecido a lo que proclamó Jesús en los evangelios.

La misión de la iglesia buscará comunidades nutridas en membresía, pero al mismo tiempo fortalecidas en compromisos y acciones sociales que exigen aproximaciones críticas al estudia de la Biblia para dar respuestas concretas a las problemáticas reales que vive la gente en el día a día. La iglesia del presente y del futuro tiene que ser una iglesia evangelizadora al estilo de Jesús para la transformación del entorno y no al modo de los intereses de los modelos neoliberales de reuniones masivas alejadas de la realidad. Las buenas nuevas son más que palabras, acciones fundamentadas en la Biblia que dé a la gente nuevas esperanzas que les permita superar los sufrimientos y les muestra nuevas perspectivas de justicia y de paz.

Rev. Diego Higuita Arango Secretario General, Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia

English Translation below provided by Rev. Mamie Broadhurst, Mission Co-Worker

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

This text has been chosen by the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia (Presbyterian Church of Colombia, or IPC) as the biblical base for our Mission Plan for the next five years. With this text, the IPC has been inspired to reflect on the actions we must take as an institution and as a community of faith as local churches and service institutions.

One of the aspects that a church must consider today is its reason for being and for its existence in this world. A church that lives only for itself and revolves only around itself should evaluate its justification in the present and in the future. This is not to deny the value of either institutional or membership growth but rather points to the need to take seriously the prophetic role to be the light of the world - that is to say a church that takes seriously its evangelistic role outside the church walls. In this sense evangelism includes all the focal points of action of the church.

It is when the church gets involved in complex, contentious issues like hunger, poverty, exclusion, injustice, inequality, and violence in all its expressions that it is really evangelizing. It is a church that has understood that the Word of God transforms, that understands that Jesus proclaimed the Reign of God as hope for those most disadvantaged in our society, and that the Reign of God is for the poor, for the excluded, for those who suffer at the hands of the powerful. The church of the present and of the future will be that which assumes, in a humble but firm way, this calling to focus its actions and proclamations on the profound message of Jesus in their love for those who have been abandoned or cut off from society.

The church must understand evangelization, the proclamation of the message of Jesus, in a broad way. It will obviously seek to captivate new people with the Word of God that transforms lives and brings numeric growth to local churches and with them thus strengthened, our service institutions will also be stronger, but evangelizing is not just about filling church buildings. The final result of evangelism must be the transformation of the structures and systems that create poverty, inequality, exclusion, and injustice into something more like that which Jesus proclaimed in the Gospels.

The mission of the church will seek well-nourished communities in terms of membership, but at the same time strengthened in social actions and commitments that require critical approaches to the study of the Bible in order to give concrete answers to the real problems that people live with day to day. The church of the present and the future must be a church that evangelizes in the manner of Jesus precisely for the transformation of its surroundings and not in the neo-liberal model of massive gatherings that are removed from reality. The Good News is more than words, it is also action, based on biblical teachings that give the people new hope and allows them to overcome their suffering and shows them new perspectives on justice and peace.

Rev. Diego Higuita Arango General Secretary, Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia

Tags: church, compassion, dallas ii, good news, justice, mission, outreach, proclamation, witness


  1. Excellent work. see you,

    by John McKenzy

    September 2, 2012

  2. Thank you Mamie for translating this excellent statement of holistic evangelism by the Gen. Sec. of IPC. It fits well with the notion of social networking with others as the best means both of community transformation and church growth.

    by Bob Montgomery

    August 13, 2012

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