Karla Echeverría records ideas as she, Patricia Albarca, Graciela Palma, Gerónimo Yantalema, Maryuri Cevallos, Silvia Guaman and Bayron Rivera brainstorm together about proposals for peace initiatives in Ecuador. Photo by Peter Wigginton.
By Jane Morrow
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Versión en español

Beginning in January, Mennonite Mission Network Ecuador Partnership Co-coordinator Peter Wigginton and Training and Resources Facilitator Mauricio Chenlo engaged in a transformative journey alongside leaders from various Mennonite conferences across Ecuador in a 12-module online course titled Pacificadores (Peacemakers). The course provides a theological framework on peace-building and practical tools for community-based practitioners wanting to impact their communities with peace building skills.

The course includes modules on healthy communication, understanding the structure of conflict, mediation, decision-making and more.

Following one of the first Peacemakers classes where they discussed the church's prophetic work in spreading messages of peace, a participant expressed how meaningful the class was for her. Just the day before, she and her workplace colleagues received a threat of extortion (known as vacuna in Ecuador and Colombia). She said that the class and the following ones had been an enormous blessing for her and her family during the legal process and the fear stemming from this extortion threat. She said that she was able to embody a sense of peace for her co-workers and family during this challenging process.

Mauricio said they plan to launch a second course in a few months in training the trainers for community-based mediation. “By the end of 2024, peace practitioners will be able to deliver peace-building trainings in their own local communities.” 

Delicia Bravo Aguilar (standing, right) led activities with children from the three Anabaptist conferences. They enjoyed craft activities and learned about having “Peace with God, Peace with myself and Peace with others.

Delicia Bravo Aguilar (standing, right) led activities with children from the three Anabaptist conferences. They enjoyed craft activities and learned about having “Peace with God, Peace with myself and Peace with others. Photo by Peter Wigginton.

Thanks to generous support from Mennonite Central Committee and Mission Network, those who completed the course were able to extend their collaborative efforts into an in-person workshop March 21-23 in Cumbayá, Quito, Ecuador. This workshop served as a platform to distill the wisdom garnered from the Peacemakers course and deliberate on how the congregations from different conferences could collectively champion peace-building initiatives within their respective communities.

The “Gathering of Ecuadorian Mennonite Churches Building Peace” organizing team wrote in a letter that the idea to meet was born from “the deep pain that we feel as Ecuadorians when we see violence and injustice advancing so rapidly in our beloved country, and we want to put ourselves at God's disposal, to be God’s instruments and witness for a culture of peace in Ecuador.”

Thirty-five adults representing

and 13 children gathered for two immersive days at the San Patricio Retreat Center. They engaged with local leaders in discerning the contours of joint programs and projects that could resonate across the diverse landscapes of Ecuador—both in the highlands and along the coast. Amid the strategic planning sessions, ample time was set aside for communal bonding, worship, Bible study and prayer.

Silvia Guaman, leader of a Riobamba congregation and participant in both the course and the workshop, said, 

“The peacebuilding workshop was very productive as it allowed each of the participants to talk about the violence in their contexts, thus facilitating an understanding of the need for the formation of peace initiatives in support of the most vulnerable people."

Throughout the workshop, the group drew inspiration from scriptures such as:

Chenlo and community-based project manager Julia Adams Naula helped facilitate organizational planning and parts of the discussions and workshops. Meanwhile, Mission Network Ecuador Partnership Co-coordinator Delicia Bravo Aguilar enriched the experience for children, guiding them through engaging craft activities and imparting lessons on cultivating "Peace with God, Peace with Myself, and Peace with Others."

“Dreaming of a peaceful, inclusive, harmonious, and just country, has led us to think about what we can do, what we have in our hands, in our hearts and in our faith communities, that can contribute to sowing seeds of peace, that begin to bear fruit, the good fruit of peace and justice.”

— Statement from the organizing team

As the workshop drew to a close, the leaders of the conferences unanimously voiced their commitment to collaborate as Ecuadorian Mennonites in establishing "peace centers" across various regions where their influence is felt. Plans for these proposed peace centers encompass a variety of activities aimed at fostering peace and community engagement such as:

  • Organizing activities across various congregations to unite youth in learning about peacebuilding.
  • Providing after-school assistance to elementary school children to bolster academic performance and instill principles of peace.
  • Offering community-based mediation services for families, churches and other institutions.
  • Establishing a mediation network designed to aid individuals, particularly women, facing the threat of violence.

They expressed a desire to sustain this momentum with continued support from Mission Network. An organizational team was set in motion, tasked with orchestrating further training on conflict mediation, resolution, and furnishing congregations with resources essential for fostering peace within their spheres.

Los menonitas se unen por la paz en el Ecuador

Por Jane Morrow

A partir de enero, Peter Wigginton, co-coordinador de la Coparticipación en Ecuador de la Red Menonita de Misión, y Mauricio Chenlo, Facilitador de Capacitación y Recursos, se embarcaron en un viaje transformador junto a líderes de diversas conferencias menonitas en todo el Ecuador, en un curso virtual de doce módulos llamado Pacificadores. El curso brinda un marco teológico para la construcción de la paz y herramientas prácticas para capacitadores comunitarios que desean tener un impacto en sus comunidades con habilidades específicas para la construcción de la paz.

El curso incluye módulos sobre comunicación saludable, comprensión de la estructura del conflicto, mediación, toma de decisiones y más.

Después de una de las primeras clases de Pacificadores donde se trató el rol profético de la iglesia en la difusión de mensajes de paz, una participante expresó cuán significativa había sido la clase para ella. Justamente el día anterior, ella y sus colegas de trabajo habían recibido una amenaza extorsiva (conocida como la vacuna en Ecuador y Colombia). Dijo que esa clase y las siguientes habían sido de gran bendición para ella y su familia durante el proceso legal y el temor que les provocó esa amenaza extorsiva. Compartió que había podido ser ejemplo de paz para sus compañeros de trabajo y su familia a lo largo de todo el proceso tan difícil de sobrellevar.

Chenlo dijo que esperan lanzar un segundo curso dentro de unos meses para la capacitación de capacitadores en temas de mediación comunitaria “Para fines de 2024, los capacitadores entrenados para la paz estarán en condiciones de brindar capacitación en construcción de la paz en sus propias comunidades locales.”

Delicia Bravo Aguilar (standing, right) led activities with children from the three Anabaptist conferences. They enjoyed craft activities and learned about having “Peace with God, Peace with myself and Peace with others.

Delicia Bravo Aguilar (de pie, a la derecha) dirigió las actividades con los niños de las tres conferencias anabautistas. Disfrutaron de actividades de manualidades y aprendieron a tener "Paz con Dios, Paz conmigo mismo y Paz con los demás. Foto de Peter Wigginton.

Gracias al apoyo generoso del Comité Central Menonita y a la Red de Misión, quienes habían completado el curso pudieron ampliar sus esfuerzos colaborativos en un taller presencial entre el 21 y el 23 de marzo en Cumbayá, Quito, Ecuador. Este taller sirvió como plataforma para sintetizar lo aprendido en el curso de Pacificadores y reflexionar sobre cómo podrían las congregaciones de las distintas conferencias impulsar colectivamente iniciativas de construcción de la paz dentro de sus respectivas comunidades.

El equipo organizador del “Encuentro de iglesias menonitas ecuatorianas por la construcción de la paz” escribió en una carta que la idea del encuentro surgió a partir del “profundo dolor que sentimos como ecuatorianos cuando vemos que la violencia y la injusticia avanzan tan rápidamente en nuestro querido país, y queremos ponernos a disposición de Dios, para ser instrumentos de Dios y testimonio de una cultura de paz en Ecuador.”

Treinta y cinco adultos en representación de

  • Iglesia Cristiana Anabautista Menonita de Ecuador (ICAME)
  • Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Ecuador (ICME)
  • Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Ecuatoriana (IEME)

y trece niños y niñas se sumergieron durante dos días en el Centro de Retiros San Patricio. Junto a líderes locales diseñaron los lineamientos generales de programas y proyectos que serían adecuados dentro de la diversidad de ambientes del Ecuador, tanto en la zona andina como en la costa. Entre las sesiones de planificación estratégica, se destinó un buen tiempo para estrechar lazos, como también para la alabanza, el estudio bíblico y la oración.

Silvia Guamán, líder de la congregación de Riobamba y participante del curso y el taller, dijo: 

“El taller sobre construcción de la paz fue muy productivo porque permitió que cada uno de los participantes hablara sobre la violencia en su contexto particular, lo que facilitó que todos vieran la necesidad de organizar iniciativas por la paz a favor de las personas más vulnerables.”

A lo largo del taller, el grupo se inspiró en párrafos bíblicos tales como:

  • Isaías 6 (ponderar a quién enviar)
  • 2 Corintios 4:17-18 (encontrar resiliencia en medio de las tribulaciones)
  • Juan 20:19-23 (acoger la paz de Cristo)

Chenlo y la coordinadora del proyecto en terreno Julia Adams Naula facilitaron la planificación operativa y parte de los debates y talleres. Por su parte, Delicia Bravo, obrera internacional de la Red de Misión, organizó actividades para las niñas y los niños, guiándoles en atractivas labores manuales e impartiendo lecciones sobre el cultivo de “la paz con Dios, la paz conmigo mismo y la paz con otros.”

“Soñar con un país en paz, inclusivo, armonioso y justo nos llevó a pensar sobre qué podemos hacer nosotros, qué está a nuestro alcance, qué hay en nuestro corazón y en nuestras comunidades de fe que pueda contribuir a sembrar semillas de paz que comienzan a dar su fruto, el buen fruto de la paz y la justicia.”

Afirmación del equipo organizador

Hacia la finalización del taller, los líderes de las conferencias unánimemente expresaron su compromiso a colaborar como menonitas ecuatorianos para crear “centros de paz” en las diversas regiones donde tienen influencia. Los planes para estos centros de paz propuestos incluyen una variedad de actividades dirigidas a fomentar la paz y el involucramiento con la comunidad, tales como:

  • organizar actividades con varias congregaciones a fin de reunir a la juventud para su capacitación en temas relacionados con la construcción de la paz
  • proveer apoyo escolar fuera del horario de clase a niñas y niños de la escuela primaria a fin de mejorar su desempeño académico y a la vez inculcarles principios de la paz
  • ofrecer servicios de mediación en terreno para las familias, iglesias y otras instituciones
  • establecer una red de mediación diseñada a apoyar a individuos, especialmente mujeres, que se enfrentan a la amenaza de la violencia

Expresaron su deseo de aprovechar este impulso y que la Red de Misión continúe apoyándoles. Se puso en marcha un equipo organizativo con la tarea de gestionar futuras capacitaciones sobre mediación y resolución de conflictos, y la provisión a las comunidades de los recursos necesarios para fomentar la paz en su contexto específico.


 

 

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