COMMUNITY formación is about meeting practical needs, restoring broken relationships and encouraging local Christians to play their part.
Many of the churches Latin Link works with are in poorer communities, but not exclusively. We recognise there are needs in all areas and all levels of society. Some places may be lacking in any kind of meaningful community – here, the church can provide a centre.
Housing, education, healthcare, sanitation, employment, green issues… could you bring knowledge, skills or training to any of these areas?
In cities, turf wars over drugs and between gangs can paralyse normal community activity. The church has a message of reconciliation and restoration – can you help bring it?
In rural areas in Latin America, communities are being torn apart by the arrival of modern technology, attractive to young people, and the traditional, unchanging way of life valued by older generations. Quechua young people seek better study and work opportunities in the larger towns and cities while the elderly are left in a state of abandonment with no state services and no-one to take over the farming of the land. In some places, there is huge pressure on land which can be commandeered, or sold over the heads of its informal ‘owners.’ Churches could have an advocacy role here – can you help?
‘We firmly believe that the gospel of reconciliation needs to impinge on all areas of life and relationships: offering salvation and relationship with God, seeking to promote peace and justice where there is conflict, and helping people to live with dignity and in harmony with God’s creation.
‘In our experience, the rural churches often receive little outside support, suffer from weak leadership and, frequently, tend to be inward looking. So a major challenge here is to strengthen the church itself, as well as to accompany and support the churches to develop a broader understanding and vision for outreach and ministry to the wider community.
‘We think that in terms of community formación a major focus needs to be on the family. Activities like marriage training, work with youth, counselling, prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse, can help to strengthen families and communities. Also, there is the need to envision and support the church in holistic ministry to the poorest and most vulnerable, especially children and the elderly’. Ian Horne and Juliana Morillo de Horne, southern Peru
How can Latin Link help your church reach out to a local ethnic community? Contact us.