From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[PCUSANEWS] IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS
PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ecunet.org>
Thu, 25 Mar 2004 10:55:28 -0600
Note #8179 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
In the shadow of the Cross
March 25, 2004
IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS
by the Rev. Susan R. Andrews
Moderator, 215 th General Assembly
BETHESDA, MD - The pastor's voice was quiet and somber as he spoke. For two
years he couldn't speak at all because of what happened one July afternoon in
The sun-soaked laborers had returned from the fields and families were
preparing for supper. With no warning, 350 para-military soldiers swarmed
into town and ordered all the men, women, and children at gunpoint to gather
in the town square.
No reason. No exception.
Two years earlier, an elder in the pastor's Presbyterian congregation had
been shot by the para-military because he sold medicine from his drug store
to a guerrilla who had wandered into town. In Colombia, any suspected
sympathy with the guerrillas is an invitation to death, so the town had
become very careful. But on that July afternoon they had begun to relax,
which made the massacre all that much worse.
As the men cowered in the courtyard awaiting the worst, the children were
quickly corralled by the women and taken to the safety of the Catholic church
- the only building with secure walls in the village. The pastor, along with
all of the men, was lying, face down, frozen in the plaza.
That is, until one of the soldiers - one with a heart - whispered into the
pastor's ear, "Run, man, run!" The pastor ran, followed by others. In the
end, the number murdered was only twelve instead of the sixty it could have
Hidden in the woods, the men watched as their village and church were burned
to the ground. They hid for three days, not knowing if their families were
dead or alive. Soon thereafter, the 3000 people who survived buried their
dead. And then they left the mountain village, taking with them only what
they could carry.
They wandered toward the big cities that were already overflowing with four
million refugees, displaced by the futile violence that is destroying
Colombia - a violence that has been made worse by the billions of U.S.
dollars given to Colombia in military aid.
Our money is supposed to help fight drugs and terrorism; but there is more
coca being grown in Colombia and more cocaine being snuffed on our American
streets than when the "war on drugs" began. The only terrorism visible in
Colombia is the desperation of four million people who have only fear to fill
Yes, the pastor is speaking in quiet and somber tones. For two years he
couldn't speak at all. Today, in the wilderness of Colombia, he is quietly
pastoring the refugees, refusing to give in to the temptation of despair. And
in the shadow of all the crosses of death, he lives in the hope and the
promise of Resurrection.
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