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Whispers of Revelation: Discovering the Spirit of the Poor.

CUERNAVACA, Mexico -- "We need a religious task force on Mexico to educate Americans," said Bill Coleman. "Religious task forces arose for Central American countries because Americans reacted against their own government's active presence and barbaric behavior there. Well, people here, who talk about the Columbus episode as the |European invasion,' now talk of the |American invasion': NAFTA."

Bill and Patty Coleman -- authors of more than 24 books -- discovered Cuernavaca a decade ago through Weston Priory, Vt., Benedictines and Mexican Benedictine sisters working there with the poor.

After one trip, the Colemans and Vermont friends and family formed Vamos! a small foundation to help the Mexican poor help themselves. The Colemans (their three children now grown) became the on-the-spot representatives in Cuernavaca.

Said Patty Coleman, "We found two links between our fighting segregation in the U.S. South in the 1960s and 1970s and working with Mexican poor in the late 1980s and early 1990s: poor people and liberation theology. |Liberation' is our word.

"We saw a parallel because [while] integrating schools in Georgia for 16 years we felt it was really those small, black Baptist churches that kept the message going. Here it is the base Christian communities -- the same reality."

These days the Colemans help poor colonias (settlements or neighborhoods) establish day care and food stores and provide job skills. Both are involved in small Christian community formation. Patty also does nutrition counseling and Bill teaches literacy and English.

Much of their recent story is captured in their latest book, Whispers of Revelation: Discovering the Spirit of the Poor (Twenty-Third Publications).

What keeps them involved?

Early on, at a Christian community gathering, an Indian woman answered this question: Why does Jesus keep saying he came to proclaim the Good News to the poor?

"Because we're the only ones who would listen," she said. "When you've got everything, you don't really think you need God."

The Colemans are listening, too.
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Author:Jones, Arthur
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 16, 1993
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