Bringing a new book to the light of day is similar to birthing a child. Both experiences spring from pleasure and pain, and both can involve intense labor. I labored with this book for three years, but it’s here and it’s beautiful. De encuentro a ministerio: la vida y fe de los Amigos latinoamericanos (From Encounter to Ministry: The Life and Faith of Latin American Friends) springs from a series of workshops on narrative writing jointly sponsored by the Friends World Committee on Consultation (Section of the Americas) and Northwest Yearly Meeting in 2009 and 2010.
Some 57 Quakers from Central and South America participated in the workshops, and 23 actually submitted their stories for publication in the book. These include women and men, pastors and lay persons, seasoned Friends and young people, experienced writers and some who are seeing their first publication in this book. They come from Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and all represent a Latin American Quaker perspective on life and faith.
The stories sparkle. Although they represent a variety of experiences, similar threads weave through the text: a vibrant faith in Jesus, a commitment to hear and obey the word of God, and a shared fellowship as Friends. Gaby Maita (Bolivia) writes about her experience of Christian conversion in an animistic and hostile context. Ricardo Jovel (El Salvador) shares his story of finding faith through a series of crisis situations that began with a car accident. David Bercian (Guatemala) writes of God’s protection during a time of political and civic unrest. Teodoro Alanquía (Peru), the oldest participant in the workshops, writes of his conversion and ministry experience as one of the early believers in the Peruvian Friends Church. María Carcomo (Honduras) shares fascinating details of a year in the life of a Friends minister. These are just samples.
Monday evening in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, we dedicated the book in a small worship service. Four of the authors were present, and it was so good to share in their delight and sense of accomplishment. Our prayer is that the book encourage Latin American Friends with the beauty of their heritage. I’ve already begun on an English translation. I want English-speaking Friends everywhere to know these people and to sense the contribution that they bring to the Quaker movement worldwide.