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‘Where hope never dies’

Dialogue, unity essential for peace, says Colombian International Peacemaker

October 3, 2013

German Zarate-Durier

German Zarate-Durier —Katy Maloy

LOUISVILLE

Eleven international peacemakers from around the world are visiting congregations, presbyteries and colleges of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Sept. 27-Oct. 21.

They are sharing their stories about church-based ministries in their countries that seek peace justice and pursue peace in the name of Jesus Christ. This year’s international peacemakers come from Bolivia, Colombia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Jamaica, Madagascar, Niger, Northern Ireland, South Sudan and Syria.

The International Peacemaker program is sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

German Zarate-Durier is director of the Office of Diaconia (mission and service) of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, which focuses on church development and the promotion of human rights. He works with social justice organizations, especially those devoted to victims of violence, and with the Presbyterian Accompaniment Program for Peace. 

Based on his experience in community organizing, he believes profoundly in peace based on justice to resolve political, social and economic conflicts. 

He will be speaking in Stockton, Greater Atlanta, Redwoods and Mission presbyteries.

What is the situation in your country that you will be addressing?

“I want to present Colombia as a country where hope never dies.” 

How are the faith communities addressing this situation?

The Presbyterian Church of Colombia (Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia, or IPC) is involved in peace talks and has a close relationship with the civil society in working for laws that build peace. The IPC is a member of national networks for human rights and the denomination’s three presbyteries are involved in related regional organizations. 

“We don’t know what is peace for the country” because Colombia has been involved in a civil war for three or four generations. “It is a challenge for society and it’s a challenge for the church. The gospel has to be involved. 

What lessons from your situation are you trying to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians? 

“We have to learn how to work together. It’s not a matter of seeing you as a rich country or seeing us as a poor country. We have to work together.

As a part of the people of God, we need to see in which ways God has been blessing you and us to work together in mission. It is a matter of seeing human beings created by God.” 

What is the primary message you want to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?

“Through experiences like this, we could see a mirror to see what situations are happening in the United States that are happening in other countries. People have a tendency to see what’s happening outside and not locally. But it’s not a matter of closing around our own experiences. We must dream and share.”

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