Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mid-Year Evaluation Education

Every ministry within IELCO has a mid-year evaluation (in addition to the end of the year evaluation). The idea is to see how everyone and every project is progressing with their goals for the year. A few weeks ago Curtis wrote about the mid-year evaluation for Diakonia (if you missed the post, you can read about it here).

Last weekend the Education Ministry had their evaluation. The Education Ministry is made up of 4 1/2 projects: The Lutheran School of Theology (ELT), Christian Formation (which is paired with, but technically a separate project, Leadership and Formation), The Lutheran Schools (CELCO), and The Emmaus Road Foundation. This is the first time the Education Ministry has had their own evaluation, making it a very important step forward in the strengthening of the ministry as a whole, and not individual projects.

One activity we did, broken up into the people representing the different projects was to each make a tree. The roots of the tree were all the same - the pedagogy model, Lutheran identity, and structuring the ministry. The idea is that those are the "roots" where the work in each of these projects in based. The trunks of the trees were the results, the branches were products, the little branches were the difficulties, the fruits were the products, the flowers the things learned, and the leaves activities. As you can see from the photo below, these are busy projects!
A collage of the different trees made at the evaluation, in the upper left is from the CELCOs, bottom left is the Emmaus Road Foundation, and the right is the Christian Formation and Leadership and Formation (I participated in the Christian Formation group and think it was a great exercise and love how our tree turned out). 

Here is the group at the end of the day. In the front row, left to right: Alexandra (Foundation), Zulma, (Formation), Stella (Foundation). Back row, left to right: Pastor Maria Elena (CELCO, Paz de Ariporo), William (CELCO, Paz de Ariporo, Judith (Formation), Yesid (CELCO, El Cocuy), Belky (coordinator of the whole education ministry), Nubia (CELCO, Bogota), Elizabeth (leading the evaluation), me, Benjamin (blue shirt, CELCO, Sogamoso), Mauricio (orange, Formation), Bishop Atahualpa. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

By Faith and Grace, View from the Cross

Pastor John Hernández at the Mission Emmaus Lutheran Church in the city of Medellin, Colombia has been doing a lot to prepare for the celebration this year of the 500th year of the Reformation. One way he has been doing this is through a short weekly radio program discussing principles of Lutheran theology. These programs are called “By Faith and Grace”. This is the second episode I have translated here. The audio link (in Spanish) is also included.


  View from the Cross, by Pastor John Hernández

“[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross”. Philippians 2: 6-8

There is a great difference between God as we would like God to be and God as revealed to us. However, we have no other place to meet God but the place in which God has spoken clearly: Jesus Christ who is the Word.

Theses 19 and 20 of Luther’s Heidelberg disputation, introduced in 1518, read as follows: That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened. He deserves to be a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

The idea raised by Luther in this debate is so important that it gave name to the theology of the Lutheran church: The Theology of the Cross. And what does it consist of? In that we should not try to know God from God’s majesty, power and glory. Whenever we do, we will end up with a mirage.

It is only possible to access God as God is revealed to us, that is, from the cross. From fragility, from humility, from approaching human experience in its condition of greatest need. That is why the theology of the cross avoids talking about God in a speculative way, of what we cannot understand and always refers us to the experience of Christ, Him, whom we can trust.

In thesis 21, Luther also said: A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

Learning to look from the cross means to discern God in the midst of pain and suffering and to understand that God’s will is to manifest God's-self, to transform the world. Let us be careful not to lose ourselves in the search for the idols of glory that delude us with power, prosperity and miracles. And let us acknowledge the God who comes to meet us and embrace us.

Let us prayLord: Help me to look with your eyes. I want to feel with your heart. I do not want to live anymore being insensitive. Amen

Here is the link to the audio

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Diakonia Mid-year Evaluation

Last week, the 27th and 28th of June, the national diaconal ministry of IELCO held a mid-year evaluation retreat where all the projects looked back on how the year has gone so far and what goals have been met, what improvements can be made, etc.

Here is the Diakonia team at the Playa Blanca (white beach) at the Tota Lake in Boyaca region of Colombia. During the retreat we also had some time together to relax and have fun. Photo by Pastor Jairo Suarez 
In all of the evaluations, the coordinators and other project professionals receive training in a specific area of expertise of one of their co-workers. In this evaluation it was the responsibility of the Justice and Life project to plan the training. This meant Sara Lara, the coordinator of the project, and me.  We put together a Human Rights-Based Approach to the project evaluation. This meant that all the various projects were evaluated from the point of view of how they are protecting and promoting human rights, and how they could be strengthened in order to better protect and promote human rights.

The principles of a Human Rights-Based Approach are: empowerment, non-discrimination, participation and accountability. These were the areas in which we evaluated the projects. How is the project empowering, for example, all of the participants of the project to take their own action?

The Diakonia team visiting one of the families of the EcoVida project, an environmental and food security project of IELCO. Photo by Pastor Sergio Talero.
We looked at, for example, the EcoVida project, an environmental and food security project which works with farmers in the Boyacá region of Colombia. The project also works to protect a water source, which feeds into the streams and rivers which the farmers all depend on. While the project has many connections to human rights, such as the right to food, and a clean environment, articulating the work of the project with a human rights approach would strengthen its role in empowering the families, making sure no one is left out, and holding to account those responsible for guaranteeing these rights.

The Diakonia team after lunch together. Photo by Pastor Jairo Suarez.