Colombia: Supporting the most vulnerable amid violence

LWF Regional Secretary for LAC Rev Sonia Skupch was inspired by ELCO’s deep commitment to the most vulnerable populations in Colombia - Indigenous communities, poor people and people of afro-descent - who endure situations of elevated risk and violence. Photo by Melissa Gómez Yepes/IELCO
LWF Regional Secretary for LAC Rev Sonia Skupch was inspired by ELCO’s deep commitment to the most vulnerable populations in Colombia - Indigenous communities, poor people and people of afro-descent - who endure situations of elevated risk and violence. Photo by Melissa Gómez Yepes/IELCO

LWF Regional Secretary visits Colombia church

(LWI) - "I was inspired by the deep commitment of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia to the most vulnerable populations in Colombia – to indigenous communities, poor people and people of afro-descent - who endure situations of elevated risk and violence," said Rev. Sonia Skupch, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Regional Secretary for Latin America, the Caribbean and North America.

In February, during her first visit as regional secretary to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO), Skupch applauded the work of the church and its diverse ministries with youth, women, Christian education, diakonia and evangelism amid ongoing social and economic challenges in the country.

Noting that it was motivating and heartbreaking to hear firsthand testimonies, Skupch said “they are people who are directly confronted with the most appalling situations of violence such as forced displacement, forced gang recruitment and anti-personnel mines.”

While the peace accord of 2016 brought an initial decline in violence, conflict-related violence has since taken new forms, and serious abuses continue. Human rights defenders, journalists, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and other community activists face pervasive death threats and violence.

Skupch added that she valued the commitment that IELCO maintains in the face of all these situations.

During the visit, Skupch spoke with leaders in the church, those who coordinate IELCO ministries and diaconal projects that serve the community. She visited churches, schools as well as LWF World Service programs in Medellin and Paz de Ariporo.

IELCO Bishop Atahualpa Hernandez emphasized that “the church instills encouragement that helps us to live out the tasks that the Lord has entrusted to us.” He thanked the regional secretary for her presence in Colombia saying that “it strengthens the communion of the national church and the communion of churches worldwide.”

Rev. Skupch was introduced to projects and ministries that assist Venezuelan migrants and Colombians, as well, a work-training program for people living with disabilities, schools and a ministry for mothers who survive cancer.

"It was very inspiring to see how they work together, the church and the country program, thus managing to discover a life full of meaning and dreams realized."

Skupch concluded her visit saying, "I leave with a full heart, having witnessed life-giving ministries and the proclamation of the Word in diverse ways, through worship and service.”

By Red de Comunicacion. English By LWF/A.Gray

 

LWF Colombia-Venezuela Country Program