On June 1, three members of Tres Rios Presbytery accompanied the Revs. Milton Mejia and Adelaida Jiménez and their two sons, Iván and Andrés, back to Colombia. The Mejia family was returning to Colombia after three years of work and studies in the United States.
The U.S. delegation — Erik Breden and the Revs. Craig Meyers and Mary Breden — spent a week in Bogota, hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC). They were able to visit several congregations and see how they are serving the needs of their neighborhoods, as well as visit the area south of Bogota, where uncounted numbers of displaced people live in rough shelters. (Some estimates are as high as 2 million people.)
We also had the opportunity to meet with the leaders of the IPC to discuss mission and partnership between Tres Rios Presbytery and their church.
Present to speak for their churches were the Rev. Dayro Aranzalez, general secretary of Central Presbytery and our host in Bogota; the Rev. Marta Munoz, moderator of Central Presbytery; the Rev. Gloria Ulloa general secretary of Costa Norte Presbytery and our host in Barranquilla the following week; and the Rev. Diego Higuita, national general secretary of the Colombian Presbyterian Church and a pastor in Uraba Presbytery.
The Rev. Alice Winters, PC(USA) mission worker, was present to translate for us. Throughout our discussions, the idea that kept coming before us was that in spite of the cultural differences between Colombia and the United States, there are situations that we all encounter where our faith enables us to recognize and meet some need — and that those are the things that are most important for us to share.
In connection with the return of the Mejia family to Colombia, we met officially with several people at the U.S. Embassy. As we told them in the meeting, we were accompanying Milton and Adelaide not just as friends, but also as colleagues in ministry in order that they might once again take up the work of the church.
We asked that the embassy continue to be open to communication from the IPC, that it gives its attention to and takes seriously any petitions concerning the safety of all ministers and leaders of the church, that it might use its connections with the Colombian government to encourage the various ministries of the government to protect these church leaders that it provides a clear channel of communication back to the new administration in Washington and that it urges our president to carefully consider policies that will enhance the lives of all Colombians.