Friday, Second Week of Advent: Peace
December 13, 2013
On my last trip to Morocco I was asked to lead a session at the church in Rabat on the subject, “Christian Response in Conflict Nations,” such as Syria, Egypt, etc. I haven’t felt any less qualified to speak on a topic since earlier that week when they asked me to say a word of encouragement to the African refugees. Many of these sub-Saharan African students are very close to the conflicts and come from countries, which have experienced much war. Our friend, Andrew, fled to Morocco with his family as a child. His dad worked for the government in his home country, when the leader was assassinated and overthrown. Andrew’s family would have suffered the same fate had they not escaped. So these students know much more about conflict nations than I do.
I did share a story from an excellent book, “Peacemakers in Action.” Christian pastor, James and Muslim Imam (leader), Ashafa, were young leaders among their own religious factions in a country deeply divided along religious lines. Each hated everyone from the others’ group. Both had seen friends and family killed by members of the other’s group. Each led militant groups to enact revenge in an escalating conflict. Pastor James lost his hand in a fight.
The two men were given the task of organizing a Muslim-Christian debate. Working together they gradually came to respect one another. Ashafa, moved by a sermon at the Mosque on loving enemies, attended James’ mother’s funeral. James, convicted by Christ’s message of love, opened up to Ashafa. Eventually, and not without great difficulty, these former warriors and enemies formed a friendship and founded the Muslim-Christian Youth Dialogue.
Today, we have a choice. We can, by our words and actions, escalate conflict and hatred, or we can be peacemakers, following the examples of pastor James and Imam Ashafa and of Jesus our Prince of Peace?