Giving Peace a Chance

Misunderstanding and conflict between Muslims and Christians is rampant and sadly growing. This is part of today’s story but not the entire picture.  In our commitment to lovingly engage our Muslim friends, and to developing deep relationships of trust, we’ve found a common desire for peace across our communities and around the globe. Of course we see the same bad news that you read but truth be told, it is often exacerbated by a large megaphone grabbed by those who set fires of misunderstanding and prejudice, “othering” as they promote more conflict instead of seeking truth and making peace. Extremists in all quarters of the globe seek to hijack the message of faithful adherents who find God calling us to peacemaking instead of living in enmity and fear of each other.

In both mosques and churches, we are finding many just have simple questions of the other faith community, are curious and would like to reach across the divide. But it seems to be posted with a “no trespassing” sign. Identities of exclusion, and fear of our “enemy other” (which are also found in religious communities), seem to define our response to one other instead of openness, learning and genuine encounter. Many want to trust the good will of others, but have doubts. That’s where our ministry comes in.

Peacemaking in the way of Jesus is what we follow. We’ve discovered on this journey that the best in both Islam and Christianity (as well as many other religions) calls us to be peacemakers. As we follow that call, we work hard at building bridges of understanding and trust that can bear the weight of truth. From there we can work to find how humanity can be reconciled, regardless of our histories and differences. In my own tradition I believe I can be a card carrying Christ follower AND fully love my Muslim neighbors. Jesus taught and modeled this over and over in the Gospels (Matthew 5:9).

I work as a consultant and player-coach with many churches and organizations seeking to understand the “other” and empower peacemaking initiatives. I’m a public speaker and preacher but also come alongside as a teacher and leader to help groups engage each other. I utilize relationship building between communities, often using photography and a growing network of relationships across the country in both churches and mosques. I align in ministry with the Covenant Church (consulting with both Love Mercy Do Justice and Serve Globally–departments within the denomination) but also collaborate with other groups. I help advance this kind of ministry through multiple program ideas we’ve perfected over the years including: peace feasts, multi-faith dialogue events, “cultural listening” events where we learn about a specific demographic in the Muslim community, visits to the other community, and many other community building activities.

Additionally I work in peacemaking and storytelling in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, completing two documentary films called, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers: One Man’s Journey to the Heart of Palestine” and just recently finishing another movie, “Make Hummus, Not Walls.” I am available to screen either of these movies with your group and engage in conversation around peacemaking. For more information about these movies go to the dedicated page on this blog.

To see what others have said about my ministry check out “the buzz.” See some comments and reviews immediately below the video.

Contact me directly at andrew.larsen@eccmail.com to inquire about coming to speak and help your community engage your “other.” Let’s put your event on my calendar.

Andrew Larsen – Visual Peacemaking – Extended Version-HD from Andrew E. Larsen on Vimeo.

2 Comments

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  2. Beautifully written. The ‘3 cups of tea’ idea is one I’m taking with me for other times, other situations. It’s good that listening is the first cup of tea. Active, non-judgmental listening. These are the adjectives we use here at school, added with ‘assuming good intentions’. Thank you.

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