Colombia’s armed conflict has been going on for more than 60 years. Generations living in Colombia have not known what peace means, because they have not experienced it. And yet, in June of this year, a ceasefire was signed between government forces and the armed guerrillas of the FARC (the largest and oldest of Colombia’s rebel groups).
At a young age, Jenny Neme was urged to join the ranks of an illegal armed group. She did not respond to the call. Instead, she adopted a commitment to peace and non-violence, even though at the time she had no language for this commitment. Involved in the Colombian Mennonite Church, she gradually came to understand the centrality of peace to a life of faith in Christ.
As a social worker, Neme quickly put her faith into practice, becoming involved in community development, human rights and peacebuilding – in the church and in secular contexts. For the past eight years she has served as Director of Justapaz, an organization of the Mennonite Church that accompanies human rights and peacebuilding processes.
Neme has supported conscientious objectors, individuals experiencing human rights violations, and communities threatened with violence and displacement. She has participated with ecumenical groups to support a ceasefire, to accompany victims and to organize religious ceremonies of healing and reconciliation. Many people in Colombia oppose these peacebuilding efforts, and so her work requires great courage and fortitude.
At a Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival in Waterloo in June 2016, Neme said, “I have learned about the effects of advocacy, which are real. I have learned about the power of collective prayer, which generates hope and I have learned that it is necessary to continue walking hand in hand with the One in whom we have believed. I have learned that being salt and light is something real and possible in our contexts, guided by the hand of God.”
MCC has gathered stories of Women Peacebuilders as part of our annual Peace Sunday Packet. The complete 2016 Peace Sunday Packet can be viewed here.