Why do a delegation?
A Delegation's impact continues long after the delegation ends....
A young Colombian conscientious objector who worked closely with a CPT Colombia delegation:
To Our Friends in CPT: We are the young people of the earth who go through the world with hands united. We do not want another war to poison the night and darken the days.
We want to recognize the work of men and women in other parts of the world that with your support contribute to the building of a better world. To our CPT friends who visited us in the first week of October we want to say thank you for getting to know our work and for spreading it to the world, thank you for strengthening our faith and hope and showing us that we are not the only ones who are struggling. Thank you for the bonds of friendship that we have created and that foster learning and create ideas for change. As Sister Teresa of Calcutta said: At times we believe that we are doing is only a drop of water in the ocean but the ocean would be less without it. To everyone a thousand thanks! May God bless us and strengthen us to continue building the kingdom of justice and peace that God has promised us.
Fondly, A Youth of Barrancabermeja
From a Colombia delegation participant:
I've spent a lot of my life like an ostrich, burying my head in the sand, not wanting to see or get involved in what was going on in the world. I thought it would be too much for me to bear so I blocked it out.
In Luke 6 there's a story of Jesus in the synagogue on the sabbath teaching, and there is a man whose right hand is withered. Jesus tells the man, "Come and stand here." This guy probably thinks, what can I do, I've got a withered hand. But Jesus tells him to stand up and draw attention to himself in this intensely political situation. Then Jesus says to the crowd, "I ask you, is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" That story keeps coming into my head since my participation in the Colombia delegation. There is no third option. The personal is political. What am I doing every day, with every decision--am I doing good or harm?
In Colombia a decision to start a soup kitchen could cost you your life. Because it is a political decision. And then even in Colombia there are people who are trying to mind their own business and have nothing to do with politics, but often they have no choice. Their son is shot for no reason, dressed up like a guerrilla and photographed by the army who needs to make its quota that month.
I don't believe we have a choice either. Over and over again we were told this is your war too. As consumers we perpetuate the violence of starvation and displacement in much of the underdeveloped world with what and how much we buy. When I tell myself I'm not political I lie to myself but I don't lie to God or even the rest of the world. After seeing what I've seen I can no longer be silent or complacent. I've seen their faces, I've heard their stories: the children in the soup kitchen, the campesinos struggling to rebuild their lives after two displacements, the youth who don't want to be forced to fight in the war that has already hurt their families so much.
In a community assembly we attended, a campesino asked us what we were doing there and how we were going to help. It is not a question that is going to go away. I pray that together we can answer it.
A member of an Arizona Borderlands delegation wrote six months after her experience:
I really thought that the trip was mostly
over when I left Tucson. Some processing, some increased interest in the
issues, maybe some speaking. I was unprepared that the Borderlands issues
would take on a life of their own within my life. I have been invited
to speak at a variety of venues, mostly church-related, and have addressed
people of all ages, genders, mostly white, but some diversity of ethnic
backgrounds. I have spoken at peace vigils, [men's and women's] groups
in a variety of churches. I have spoken to my district board of ordained
I had to learn to use powerpoint. I had to learn to address these issues to groups with different viewpoints, some unknown. I had to learn how to adapt the issues for different settings and timeframes. ... I have a lot to learn, but I have also learned alot.
Thank you [to the delegation leader] for making these issues accessible and intelligible to me and the rest of our group. I have done a few small things, and I am sure that you have no idea how important or far-reaching that the work you did with our delegation is. I have speaking engagements scheduled [for the next two months]. The challenge now is to figure out how to integrate the experience with the rest of my life!