Two Communities in a Transnational Communion
Imprint: Wipf and Stock
- Published: November 2017
On a Thursday morning in 1981, four thousand campesinos (fieldworkers), fleeing a US-funded Salvadoran death squad, stumbled down the rocky, overgrown side of a hill to the Lempa River. Some were mown down by machine guns and the strafing of helicopters; others drowned as they were swept away by the river. The rest escaped to live the next eight years in UN refugee camps in Honduras. In 1989 many of these refugees returned to El Salvador as the repatriated community of Valle Nuevo. Companeros tells the stories of a twenty-five year relationship of accompaniment, healing, and forgiveness between Valle Nuevo and a small association of churches in the United States, Shalom Mission Communities. The two groups have come to embrace a transnational communion with one another despite the economic, political, and spiritual chasms that exist today. This work is a collective, collaborative effort of storytelling and theological reflection, interweaving oral and written accounts of suffering, thanksgiving, sharing, remembering, and proclaiming the death of Christ until he comes again.
“The challenging model described in this powerful story of Christian community will leave you rethinking what it means for churches to ‘do missions.’ The intentional and sustainable relationships built over decades between a campesino community in El Salvador and U.S. churches has brought about genuine change. I am proud that Habitat for Humanity of El Salvador has been such a creative and prominent player in this amazing story of faith.”
— Jonathan T. M. Reckford, Chief Executive Officer, Habitat for Humanity International
“A powerful story of twenty-five years of companionship, solidarity, and ultimately hope as a community in the United States seeks to walk alongside a community in El Salvador as it struggles to both remember and build a new life in the aftermath of the horrific civil war. Compañeros is theologically rich and historically compelling while also offering churches considering transnational partnerships much to consider and learn from.”
—Victor J. Hinojosa, Baylor University