I Have Job Security: The Ongoing Need for Peacemaking. Opportunities for 2020

(5 min. read. But it might require more time if you consider the invitation).

Upcoming Opportunities for 2020 (so far). This is why I need your support:

  • A new collaborative effort with Love Mercy Do Justice of the Covenant Church. This is an experiential learning (<–click fmi) opportunity, helping churches know and love their Muslim neighbors.
  • Speaking and teaching on peacemaking at churches, conferences, in homes and Lyft rides to the airport!
  • Exploratory peacemaking/vision trips to Tunisia and Iraq. We’re doing initial explorations, engaging populations doing the stuff talked about below in the narrative.
  • Guiding Pastors, leaders, and seminary students in “multi-narrative” tours where we do a deeper dive to understand the Holy Land, coinciding with an important conference called Christ at the Checkpoint hosted by Bethlehem Bible College this summer.
  • Teaching for a second time a seminary course on Peacemaking in Israel/Palestine for students from North Park Theological Seminary. This will run concurrently with the multi-narrative tour mentioned above.
  • Screening our movie, Make Hummus Not Walls,” all over the place. If you’d like to host a screening in your home, or church group write for more information (andrew.larsen@eccmail.com).
  • Distribution of our companion study guide entitled, From Peacetalking to Peacemaking. We’ve just finished a full cycle with a focus group that gave this study guide a road test. Two thumbs up. They want to repeat it and invite more of their friends for a 2nd round.

Much more will come onto our calendar as we step into the New Year. Please consider joining our team. Thanks!

I work in building relational bridges between Muslims and Christians (among other things). This takes the shape of getting to know each other by face-to-face experiences in an effort to diminish many of the negative caricatures and stereo-types that build walls of misunderstanding, often driving communities apart instead of together. I do this because love propels me. And just in terms of what’s happening to humanity and our world we gotta do something folks! As Henri Nouwen mentions in his volume on peacework: “against the background of a world poised for self-destruction, a world in which the choice no longer is between peace and war, but between peace and the end of history. In such a world, the age-old call to prayer, resistance, and community truly becomes a new call.”

Occasionally, because of the deficits we commonly have of knowing and understanding one another, plus the fears which are fueled by certain falsehoods, we now also find an uptick in hate crimes. While these are not endorsed by our scriptures or the norms within either the Christian or Muslim communities, these horrible acts are sometimes fused with our respective traditions. Certain tribal ideologies, fueled by the worst impulses of humanity, piggyback on religion spawning acts of aggression or terrorism towards our other. This also happens in the other monotheistic religion, Judaism. It probably doesn’t need to be mentioned but these tendencies do not only prevail in the religious domain. This stuff seems to be all over the place. But since I’m deeply part of the Christian faith, I feel responsible to work from where I stand. I’m compelled by the love of Jesus Christ, who invites his followers to love even their enemies, and to be peacemakers. Anyway, another part of my work in this general area of peacemaking has emerged over the last 10 years–The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With nearly 10 trips to the region, two films documenting our learning and telling stories, and now a study guide to help groups learn through our experience, this has become a significant part of my work.

So when I tell people I have job security, they chuckle with a knowing nod of the head. Always. But it also has a sober aftertaste when the truth of this joke sinks in.

What is peace you ask? One of the words that appears in both Hebrew and Arabic, and therefore used by both Israelis and Palestinians for peace, defines a full orbed, comprehensive idea that is not fully articulated in the English word PEACE. The Semitic idea is both deeper and broader. SHALOM, the Hebrew word, or SALAM in Arabic, captures what theologian Cornelius Plantinga refers to as full human flourishing. He says SHALOM is “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight…We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.” (NOT the Way it’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. p. 10).

This is what I’ve given my life to. As you consider what you want to stand for in this world, I invite you to join me. Literally. Come join me in a mosque someday. But I also need your prayers and your financial support. As the next year unfolds please join me in prayer over the above list of the opportunities God has placed before me. Please help us continue to make a difference. Consider giving to the cause of peacemaking this Tuesday, or a larger year-end gift. We would even be happy with a monthly donation. 

 

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