November 14 – November 16, 2018
Loews Hotel, Philadelphia, PA. Learn More »
May 25, 2017
Mexico is my home! It is the place where I was born, grew up and first learned what it meant to love God and to live in community. As many of you know, our BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz Summer Conference is taking place in Campo Mazahua near Mexico City in July. For the first time, BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz is daring to go where we have not gone before for our Summer Conference! This is a huge deal for us as an organization! Although since its inception our organization established a firm commitment to represent the voices of North America (Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA and Canada), the structures of power, privilege and economic inequality among the countries we represent have made it extremely difficult to live into this commitment fully.
Yet, it is also true that as an organization of loving Christians committed to peace and justice, we have made bold statements in the past. We have committed to non-violent resolution of conflict whereas our governments have chosen the path of war. We have committed to be a welcoming and affirming community to all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We have committed to become the BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz, and bear in our very name our commitment to the inclusion of languages and cultural perspectives different from those based in the USA-English speaking world. We have committed to reimagine a world in which love has the last and loudest voice in the way we come together as the body of Christ.
As I mentioned before, I grew up in Mexico and love it very much. It is a beautiful country with people equally beautiful who confront challenges every day just as people do in many places around the world. Though I have lived in the USA for many years now and have come to love this country and its people too, I am really excited about the prospects of having friends from the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico and other places, come to visit the country that I love so much, a land that has so much to give and receive from our visit during our Summer Conference.
Organizing the Summer Conference in Mexico has really challenged our thinking as an organization and the way we go about our mission which is exactly what we have hoped for! However, with these challenges there are also concerns we would like to share with you. We are concerned we may not have enough people from outside Mexico attending the Summer Conference and that this will be a disappointment and a missed opportunity for us as an organization. We are concerned about the finances of organizing a Summer Conference in a country that works in a very different economic scheme from the way we work in the USA. People in Mexico earn by average a much smaller income than we do in the USA, and thus figuring out what’s reasonable and just in terms of our conference fees for Mexican people has been a challenge. We are concerned about our ability to communicate across language barriers, although most of communication happens non-verbally. We are concerned about creating a space in which everyone feels welcome and loved regardless of their language, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, nationality, etc.
Although the list of concerns is long, our hopes are just as plentiful because we believe that God is opening a door of opportunity to enter into a new way of being in this world as BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz! We also realize that entering this door requires that we travel to Mexico in a step of faith and love and make one more courageous statement with our lives! By entering this door of opportunity we are daring to imagine a world in which our beloved organization is able to take deeper root in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries. We are daring to imagine a world in which people from more privileged parts of the world are willing to travel to places they may not have gone before to become immigrants and gracious recipients of our Mexican sisters and brothers’ hospitality. We are daring to imagine that by being in Mexico we will widen our community of peacemakers even more and learn to see God with new eyes. We are daring to share our hearts with each other regardless of the linguistic or cultural differences we may experience. Most of all, we are daring to choose to trust God’s love pouring so abundantly into our hearts that there will always be more than enough for everyone to be loved and welcome!
When I get worried about all that is involved in the planning of the Summer Conference, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient, love is kind, love believes all things and endures all things! This is my hope and prayer for myself and all of us. I pray God continues to allow us to grow into the kind of love that makes one more courageous statement.
We are already doing it and invite you to come along and contribute in any way you are able! We hope that you will attend and that you will invite others to attend. We hope you’ll share the invitation with your church community. If you simply cannot make it, we hope you’ll support the conference by inviting others and by making a donation to the scholarship fund.
May the Spirit of God that abides in each one of us strengthen our resolve to grow in love as we dare to go where we have not gone before for our Summer Conference!
Paz, Salaam, Shalom, Peace,
Dr. Mayra Picos Lee
BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz