Colombians evacuating their homes as the flood waters rise.

I had the pleasure yesterday of sitting with Bishop Eduardo Martinez of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) to gain his perspective on what has been happening in his country. Here is a bit of what we covered:

The major point relayed by the bishop is that the situation in Colombia is worsening. With reports that the rains last month were equal to the annual rainfall of Colombia and the excessive rains over the past year, many have been left without access to housing or food as they are forced from their homes by the rising waters and left incapable of harvesting the sustenance crops they live on. There are also dangers for people as the move onto higher ground as mudslides have become more common. This all would be a crisis enough on its own, but with somewhere between 3.5 and 5 million people already listed as IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) within the country these new additions have begun to overwhelm aid agencies.

With this new situation the government has been calling on the churches to lend a helping hand. The bishop described how the IELCO is historically been focused on responding to the humanitarian crisis but with this new situation they are finding way to build on this work to address the humanitarian concerns of disaster response and development. To this end they are working on a proposal for the Latin American Council of Churches, ACT Alliance and ELCA to help meet the growing needs of the people.

The bishop also attended the synod assembly of the Southeast Synod of Minnesota and will attend the assembly of the South Carolina Synod, both of whom have companion synod relationships with IELCO. His hope is to share the story of his people so that their brothers and sisters in the ELCA may know of their situation.

Please pray for Bishop Martinez, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia and all Colombians that the spirit of Christ may sustain them through this time of crisis and the Easter message of life from death, creation from destruction, may continue to give them hope.

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