The Power of Presence

In just a week, five of us from BMPC will travel to Lima, Peru, to spend a week with our long-term partner, Joining Hands Peru.

We have been connected to the work of Joining Hands Peru, especially through our support of Presbyterian World Mission and our Mission Co-Workers there, Jed and Jenny Koball, for over ten years. But this year represents the start of a deepening commitment on our part to the Joining Hands global network, which describes their work as standing in solidarity, working for justice and the restoration of the Earth, and advocating for the rights of people to claim the life abundant promised by God.

A main component of this deeper partnership means intentional visits and time spent together in Peru (and eventually Bryn Mawr). This is how Joining Hands Peru describes the context in which they live and work:

Due to its vast territory and gold and silver production, Peru was historically considered one of Spain’s most important colonies. Declaring its independence from Spain in 1821, Peru continued to exploit the resources of the land for its own economic growth and development.

Today, the Andes continue to have great mining potential, and the Amazon basin has rich oil deposits. Increased exploitation of such resources, known as extractive activity, has led to major economic growth in recent decades, yet the gap between rich and poor in Peru is one of the highest in the Americas. Among the most impoverished peoples are indigenous populations whose livelihoods and way of life are gravely impacted by contamination of air, land, and water. Furthermore, Peru is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change.

I have had a few people ask me what “work” we will be doing when we are in Peru. The truth is that the work we are called to do in a modern mission partnership is the work to build relationships with one another. Gone are the days of us traveling around the world to offer our manual labor to others. Instead, we are traveling there to offer them one of the most valuable resources we have as a church – our focus and attention.

Over a week, we will travel and visit five different communities surrounding Lima, where local leaders are leading the work to recover their natural resources, change the industrial and commercial practices impacting their homes, and attempt to reverse the devastating health impacts experienced by the people in their community, especially their children. We will hear their stories, encourage them in their work, and consider ways we can influence some of the international forces at play as a congregation.

But mostly, we will illustrate to them that there is a group of faithful people who live thousands of miles away, who are paying attention to their work, praying for their success and health, and personally investing in their future. That is a precious thing.

I hope that you will keep the five of us in your prayers in the days to come, but more importantly, you will keep the people of Joining Hands Peru in your prayers at this moment and beyond. If you want to learn more about their work, you can check it out here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/compassion-peace-justice/hunger/internationaldevelopment/joininghands/joining-hands-country-profiles/peru-jh/.

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