A dozen international peacemakers from 10 countries around the world will visit congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from Sept. 24-Oct. 18.
They will share 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, Central Asia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Israel/Palestine, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sudan.
The International Peacemaker program is sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
Brenda Celia Trinidad Espitia is a graduate of the Presbyterian Pan American School in Kingsville, Texas, and is an active member of Emanuel Presbyterian Church in Toluca, State of Mexico, Mexico. She will speak about the Presbyterian Church of Mexico proclaiming Christ in the midst of poverty, injustice and violence.
Q: Where will you be going?
- Presbytery of Plains and Peaks, northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska
- Presbytery of Greater Atlanta
- Huntingdon Presbytery, south central Pennsylvania
- Presbytery of Chicago
- Presbytery of Eastern Oregon
Q: What is the situation in your country that you will be addressing?
"Since 2006, we have suffered a wave of violence in Mexico due to drug trafficking. This has developed into a war between the Mexican army and cartels."
In the last three years, 28,000 people have been murdered, Trinidad said. "Most of them are drug-related murders."
Also, in the city of Juárez, on the Texas/Mexico border, large numbers of women are being killed. The FBI and an international human rights organization aren't sure what is happening to these muertas de Juárez, Trinidad said.
She will also talk about immigration, urging Presbyterians to look at the Mexican perspective on the issue.
Trinidad also hopes to talk about Mexico’s unique and important features. "It's a country of contrast. We have one of the richest men in the world and we have poverty." Mexico also has a varied landscape and big cities as well as small villages. It's 14th in the world's economy and 4th in Latin America.
"It's something that we don’t know about, but it's important."
Q: How are the faith communities addressing this situation?
"The Presbyterian Church is having a very important message to the women because most of the problems come from the families. Mom and Dad have to work and the children are left behind. … Although we are known as a society of machismo, the women really face many things."
The church educates and listens to women about the issues they face, such as pornography, drugs, self-esteem and "the way God wants a woman to be for her family," Trinidad said.
The church is also part of a national, interdenominational organization that hosts an event called A Prayer for Women. The group goes to every state in Mexico and holds a day of prayer and worship, Trinidad said. “We have to repent and we have to come back to God.”
Q: What lessons from your situation are you trying to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?
"We appreciate the help we have received in the past. Especially on the border, there was no presence of Presbyterians in the past. But since the early '70s, there has been a border presence.
"And also I would like them to know Mexico is still needing prayer. We would like them to come to Mexico … there are safe places and many projects. We would like to work together and if there are things we can do for you, we would love to.
"And also that there are people who are Christians and not every Mexican is a drug dealer or criminal."
Q: What is the primary message you want to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?
"Mexico has amazing things and it’s important to let people know that God's mercy has been with God’s people in Mexico. Even though this is a hard time, we understand that we have to come back to God's mercy and love.
"The same message that was given long ago is still the message, and it's becoming a reality for Mexico."