Born in Puerto Rico, Ricardo Mayol has been a missionary with American Baptist Churches for more than 20 years. He is currently serving as a regional consultant encouraging the development and consolidation of the Red Continental Cristiana por la Paz (Continental Christian Network for Peace, or CCNP). Based in Guatemala, Ricardo travels to coach CCNP members and future members in theological and pastoral training for peace, as well as on the basic goals of CCNP. Click here to contact Ricardo if interested in learning more or getting involved with CCNP.
BPFNA: What brings you to this Summer Conference? What are your hopes and expectations?
RM: This is my first Summer Camp, but I have been connected to BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz for years. I was a missionary here in Chiapas and BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz was our ministry in Chiapas. And a Friendship Tour came to Chiapas as well. We’ve done many things together. I feel very in tune with the spirit of this network.
Although I haven’t been to the Summer Camps I am a part of this community, and I am pleased to be here. I think these Summer Camps, besides getting inspiration and finding a community where you feel in tune - that’s always renewing, it’s also an opportunity for strengthening relationships and for working for peace.
I also came with an agenda. We are developing a Continental Christian network for peace. I also came for networking because I have been talking with many BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz churches in the US, and I knew some of them would be here. We have also been building this with Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Colombia, Nicaragua, and other places, and we knew we would encounter them here. And I’ve been encouraging people to come to be part of this conference. I’ve also been working with Rachel McGuire in Rochester, NY to create a virtual platform where the network will be supported, so we made the plan to give a workshop here.
BPFNA: How did the idea for this network develop?
RM: In Rome in 2009, there was a Global Baptist Peace Conference, and I went. There the Latin American people got together and we analyzed the types of violence that our countries were suffering from. We came with an idea of creating the continental network for peace. At that point, we said it would be a Latin American Baptist Peace Fellowship. But talking with people from the different countries we realized we needed to open that up a little bit more, so we said “ecumenical” instead. And then the question was, “how can we be ‘Latin,’ if we have a commitment to Indigenous peoples?” because they don’t see themselves as Latin.
We set up different chapters in different countries - we had one in Chiapas, and one in Guatemala - but we merged the networks.
The network has five strategic points:
- Organizing: Bringing together people from around the world who are peace-minded. We’re not talking about bringing all the churches, but people who are already committed to justice and peace.
- Peace Research: When we talk about peace, we talk about turning over the tortilla. The tortilla doesn’t flip over itself, someone has to flip it over. And when we talk about peace, we’re also talking about violence. So there are many types of violence - physical, militarization, taking away resources, economic, discrimination, people being destroyed in their humanity. Understanding how this is being played out intercontinentally and how these types of violence cross borders is a concern that we have as a network.
- Peace Education: How can we take this knowledge and combine it with Biblical inspiration and tools to work for peace. How all the people in the network are connected to it and prepared to be a peacemaker.
- Public Advocacy: How can we mobilize our voices together in each country? This is a prophetic voice. How can we influence and challenge the structure?
- Being compañeros/compañeras: How can we be companions for those who are suffering and struggling? That could take many forms.
BPFNA: Did something particular happen in Rome to lead to this idea?
RM: In Rome there was a workshop on the prophetic theology of peace. The leader said, “What can we do?” “How can we respond to this?” There were eight people in the workshop and we said, “Let’s not talk about this now - let’s talk to the Latin American people and hear what they have to say.” They all said “our people are suffering.” So we said, “let’s make a Latin American Peace Fellowship.”
We had a meeting in Chiapas, and one in Mexico City, and more countries joined us. It’s happening - slowly - but it’s happening. So for me for this is a big project. It’s very important to have BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz with this network. When I’ve been talking in the US about the network, many pastors are telling us that their network in the US is BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz.
BPFNA: Is the work you’re doing in Guatemala connected to this network?
RM: I’ve joined the ecumenical council of Guatemala. Guatemala is doing some beautiful ecumenical work. I’m the Baptist. This is for peace-minded churches. I try to connect what they do that’s in tune with the network to the network.
This is why the virtual platform is so important because it will have tools for education and networking.
BPFNA: What challenges have there been in creating this network and/or what’s been working really well?
RM: Sometimes those who dream about peace are very isolated. Finding people who have the same heart and getting the energy to continue.
I am working closely with Raimundo Barreto. We are thinking of officially launching the Ecumenical Network at the next Global Baptist Peace Conference. So until that date we will be working on developing the network, building the infrastructure, and bringing all the people in. We need to collect all the wisdom. Financial resources will be an important part for making this work, but that comes second. How can we find our hearts first and how can we connect to the work and to the ministry? That’s the most important.
BPFNA: Is there anything BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz can do to support the network right now?
RM: You have many connections in the US, and if we’re talking about peace, much of the suffering and violence in the south comes from the north. So if we really care about peace and justice work, then we need to connect those in the north and those in the south and understand together how the violence is being carried out.
Maybe you know of many other networks that deal with the topics we are concerned about.
We are concerned about economics, about the loss of natural resources, about militarization, about how those who resist the mining companies are being killed, and we know that many of the mining companies are from Canada. So how can we find people in the States and Canada who are involved in these issues, and how can we network? How can those who are resisting in the south be connected with those in the north?
I know they are there, I don’t know who they are, but I know they are there.
Click here to contact Ricardo if interested in learning more or getting involved with CCNP.