Having the Wájaro office in our home for the past 5 years has been a messy, but beautiful season of shared space and mutual growth. It has served to shape us into the Wájaro community that we are. The Wájaro team has graciously stepped over toys, ignored the sibling rivalry, looked away from piles of laundry, and tolerated us Joneses when we got up on the wrong side of the bed.
There have also been seasons of burnout, times where I, Lauren, opened my front door to our team in the morning, still in my pajamas, with a severe lack of that “joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” It can be exhausting to constantly share living space with guests and co-workers. But even in seasons of being “hospitalitied out” as I call it, I feel a renewed sense of purpose when we’re able to host our extended team of Indigenous leaders from near and far. Creating more room in my home, and in my heart, for my Indigenous sisters and brothers feels sacred. It feels sacred to provide hospitality to those who must defend their faith, who must fight for their communities, and who carry a generational cross of weariness.
It’s a sacred “yes”, echoing all the way back to when Jesus mentions “I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
It is a sacred “yes” to breaking bread around my dining room table with the “nations and tribes and people and languages.”
A sacred “yes” to the chorus of prayers lifted in multiple languages as we break bread —my family, intermingled around the table, listening intently, not understanding their words — all of us being nourished by this taste of what heaven will be like.
A sacred “yes” to the wonder of it all. How did I get so lucky to participate in something so heavenly, in such a broken world?
Yet, it is this brokenness that brings us together, compelling us to pull up another chair at the table for Indigenous communities in Colombia who have long been pushed to the margins, who bear the scars of war and wave the flag of peace and hope for a reconciled future. We gather around my dining room table, bellies full of hope that our communion together will bear fruit and make an impact at the eternal banquet table. We work together so that communities can taste that sacred meal of fellowship in the here and now and the yet to come.
Creating space at the table for more diverse perspectives — voices from different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education — is a lifelong mission of mine. It is also part of Wájaro’s mission – to create space for the Indigenous voice at the table – at the table when the Church is meeting, when mission organizations are meeting, when governments and NGOs are meeting. Indigenous voices must be present when peace processes are underway and any time decisions are being made about Indigenous communities and the Indigenous church. This table we refer to, however, is often suspended in a theoretical space.
Casa Wájaro is our effort to bring this theoretical table into physical reality. Wájaro’s vision is to create a space in the heart of Colombia for our Indigenous sisters and brothers. In this space, we can welcome people from the Church, mission organizations, politicians, NGOs, and volunteers to do real work around a real table together. We already do this work together in the deserts and mountains and jungles. Now, we need to create a permanent space in Bogotá, the nation’s capital, that is visible within the community where the Wajaro team is laying down roots. We need more room at the table for all those working together to see the Indigenous church grow and Indigenous communities flourish.
We often travel to communities and work together in their homes – sleeping in their hammocks, eating the fish caught in their rivers, warming ourselves over the fires built with the kindling they have gathered. We also host Indigenous leaders in our homes when they are traveling to Bogotá – sleeping in our beds, eating our waffles, and warming their tired bodies with our jackets and extra blankets. We love this interchange of hospitality and will continue to do it through Casa Wájaro!
More than an office, Casa Wájaro will feel like their home away from home in Bogotá with dorms, a fully equipped kitchen, and plenty of space for building community. Casa Wájaro will start with a co-working space, a center for hospitality, a space to collaborate and dream. The possibilities are endless, yet the goal remains the same, to support Indigenous leaders and the Indigenous church, to see them thrive and equipped to be agents of change in their communities and throughout Colombia.
In a time where most of the developed world has settled into a rhythm of virtual life, those living on the margins have white-knuckled the last bit of inner strength to continue on in the face of an insurmountable struggle, the daily struggle to survive. For the Indigenous communities we work with, the pandemic, food insecurity, makeshift medical care, civil unrest, armed groups stealing their land and massacring their people has demonstrated now more than ever their depth of faith, resiliency, innovation, and perseverance. Casa Wájaro is the vision God gave us for such a time as this. Having a safe haven, a physical space to be together, has become more crucial than ever for those working for peace, reconciliation, and the Indigenous church here in Colombia. We need Casa Wájaro. And we need your help to get there! Please consider taking advantage of this incredible matching grant opportunity and invest now:
Set the table with us.
Lauren Jones is co-founder of The Wájaro Foundation with her husband, Jake. They have served as SAM missionaries since 2017. She is also an artist, women’s health educator, outdoors expert, social worker, and mother of four. Lauren is passionate about living in authentic community with others and caring for populations that mainstream society tends to overlook.