Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Your stories reveal the treasure

I have a friend, Jim Fitz, who works with Christian Peacemaker Teams. When he first began peace work he had a hard time writing reports to donors and supporters. But then he began to tell stories.

Here's a story from a November e-mail:

I was traveling with Juan, a rural Pentecostal pastor, on the way to an evening worship service near Cucuta, Colombia. He told me this story:

"One night the Paras (Paramilitaries) took a 23 year old mother in our church and shot her in front of her children, because the Paras thought she had killed her Para friend. The community was afraid to go to recover the body, for fear of what the Paras might do to anyone who showed sympathy to the mother. So they called me. I went that very night and recovered the body and gave her a proper funeral in our church, as a way of saying that the church was not going to be intimated by the Paras threats. As often happens here in this war, it was soon found out that the killing was a mistake for she had had nothing to do with the killing of her Para friend. Then, led by the Spirit, the church carried the coffin to where Paras lived and buried the body there.”

“This made the Paras face their awful mistake every time they passed the grave. As a result many of the Paras quit. They even had fights among themselves. And this event became the beginning of the end of the Paras control in the region. Three years ago we could not drive this road we are on tonight for fear of the Guerrillas or Paras. They are still around, but their control of the people is greatly diminished."

A mission statement helps people know who your nonprofit serves and how you are transforming lives but it is the stories that reveal the treasure.