It was a rich time of learning and fellowship at the Logos and Cosmos Initiative’s first in-person training workshop in Francophone Africa, which took place in August. More than 30 participants met together in Bujumbura, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Burundi.
After such a long season of online meetings, our Catalysts (participants) found it valuable to be together in person: connecting with others over a meal, for example, or having conversations that renewed their vision as Christian academics or helped them refine their theology and the sciences projects. They also had the opportunity to learn from – and engage with – eminent scholars from the region, who spoke on such topics as: the ecological dimensions of the Christian faith; how to develop research projects; and project management.
“It was wonderful to see the sense of family that has developed among the Catalysts in the Logos and Cosmos community,” said Dr Albert Chabi Eteka, Executive Director for the LCI in Francophone Africa. “Catalysts have told us that they came away from the workshop feeling equipped, galvanized and spiritually empowered.”
Catalysts were joined at the event by seven LCI staff, several mentors and a number of GBUAF regional staff members, including Regional Secretary Dr Klaingar Ngarial. Many participants stayed on for the regional PANAF’22 conference, which took place in the same location immediately after the LCI workshop.
Looking ahead, our Latin American Catalysts, mentors and staff will come together for an in-person workshop from 29 September – 2 October in Santiago, Chile. Dr Elaine Storkey, the English sociologist, philosopher and theologian, will give the two main talks. The workshop will also feature plenaries by Dr Rocío Parra, a lawyer who advises the Chilean government on environmental law, and Ana Ávila, a Mexican science writer who works for the Coalición por el Evangelio and the Templeton-funded initiative, Blueprint 1543.
In the meantime, our Tier One Catalysts in both regions are currently taking the LCI’s 6-week long e-course, An Introduction to Science and Theology, which has been updated with new content on the importance of the humanities and has been contextualized for our Latin America region. To help them develop their own project ideas, these Catalysts are also starting to conduct analysis and reflection on their national movements, campuses, academic disciplines and the work of God in their own hearts.
Sandra’s project in Mexico: Jesus is our peace and justice
Our Tier Two Catalysts have been busy leading workshops, planning conferences, conducting research and developing new resources as part of their exciting theology and the sciences projects.
In Mexico, graduate student Sandra Márquez Olvera organized her first workshop in July as part of her Opening paths to justice and peace project. Like many Catalysts’ projects, her project aims to tackle a very real problem in her nation: the violence and forced disappearances associated with Mexico’s so-called “war on drugs.” Through workshops, an academic forum and a research paper, Sandra’s project will open up a dialogue among university students about faith, justice and peace in Mexico and will equip them to take active steps as peace-builders.
Sandra’s project blog shares some of these testimonies from the 28 student leaders and workers from Compa Mexico, the IFES national movement, who took part in the three-day workshop in Mexico City:
“I believe that we can do something to change the situation of injustice in the country, and it can be started from small actions,” said one cell group leader who attended.
At the end of the event, participants developed ideas and initiatives to respond to social violence even at the very local level of their university campuses.
“In a gray moment of global violence, Jesus is our peace and justice,” said Compa Mexico staff worker Maritza López. She co-led the workshop with Sandra and has personal experience of losing a university friend who disappeared four years ago. “I take many challenges away from this workshop to share with my students, professional friends, church and family. It has made me ask myself how we could replicate actions to build justice and peace in my state – Tabasco, Mexico. Thank God for the Logos and Cosmos Initiative and for the researchers who make the space in their life agendas to add to the lives of the students of our national movement.”
Meet our Catalysts and explore their projects
LCI Catalysts are currently leading 18 projects in 15 countries across our two regions. You can now read summaries of all of their projects on our new project webpages. There are also plenty of opportunities to hear from Catalysts themselves.
In this 2-minute video, Marcio Lima, an architecture professor from Brazil, talks about his theology and the arts research program for students in ABUB Brazil. You can also read his thoughts about how the arts and the Chrisitan faith enrich one another in his Catalyst Perspectives blogpost. Lastly, you can listen to his interview on the recent Voices of IFES podcast episode about the LCI.
Also in Latin America, Lorena Brondani from Argentina is interviewing remarkable Christian women academics and will tell their stories through videos and printed materials. Read her Catalyst Perspectives blogpost to learn more.
In our Francophone Africa region, watch this short video from geologist Isaac Daama to learn more about how his project is drawing together scientific and Christian perspectives on occult mining practices in Cameroon.
Please pray with us:
- Thank God for the connections and learning that took place at the workshop in Burundi and pray for the upcoming workshop in Chile.
- Praise the Lord for the positive reception that Tier Two Catalysts’ projects have had so far from students and leaders in their IFES national movements and from others in their local contexts.
- Pray for sustenance and energy for Catalysts as they continue to implement their projects. Many of them are juggling their role as a Catalyst with many other responsibilities.
- Pray for good partnerships and favor from authorities and collaborators as Catalysts continue with their projects.
- Pray for the mentoring relationships that Catalysts have with their LCI “advocates,” that trust will be developed, insights shared and friendships built.