Saturday, March 27, 2010

One year later...

Well, the past several days I've been thinking on and off about where I was a year ago. Around and about Bethlehem, Hebron, the south Hebron hills, and Jerusalem. People often ask if I want to go back. Of course I want to... but I don't know if I will. I'm excited for a couple of friends who this year will be going/returning on delegations. I still care very much about the people I met, and I long, hope, and pray for peace and justice in their land. And while I continue to read more stories about Palestine and other hurting places in the world - and my understanding of peace and justice is continually changing, expanding and being challenged - my primary focus has returned more to peace and justice in the smaller sphere of my own life and work. How do I live justly and mercifully and peaceably in my own community of Kankakee? I don't have a complete answer. But I have plenty to work toward. And I'm learning to rest more in the hope of Christ, knowing that "He is our peace."

Friday, July 17, 2009


This weekend I'll have another opportunity to share about my trip. I love these opportunities, because it causes me to stop and reflect on my trip and go back through pictures and journal entries and remember the people we met, the stories we heard. I love to relive these memories. Visiting families and peace organizations in Jerusalem and the West Bank was such a gift! I will treasure it forever.

Just tonight, looking through pictures, I am saddened once again by the images of soldiers carrying guns, often pointed carelessly in the direction of civilians (in the case of the protest we attended, Palestinian mothers, fathers, and children - all committed to nonviolence, taking a stand against the Separation Barrier that Israel is building in the midst of their community, on their land).

My heart breaks for these young men and women in the "service" of their country - that is, promoting Israel's political agenda and oppressive control over the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I know that not all of them would choose to be where they are, doing what they're doing. I pray for them - that they will be made free. Free from blind prejudices that are instilled in them from a young age. Free from attitudes of hatred toward fellow humans. Free from the weight of the guns they carry, the responsibility they hold over the lives - or deaths - of innocent people. Free to choose not to participate in the military. Free to choose lives of working for peace instead... true peace, not the illusion of peace that comes when the threat of violence keeps everyone in check.

Maybe they will see hope for such freedom when they talk with visiting peace activists, including Christians, Muslims and Jews. Maybe they will see it when they feel frustrated and empty at the end of an IDF day's work. Surely they'll see it in the nonviolence of the Palestinian people they encounter day after day?

Monday, June 15, 2009

A statement that all three religions should be able to embrace

"In times of war, you often hear leaders - Christian, Jewish, and Muslim - saying, 'God is on our side.' But that isn't true. In war, God is on the side of refugees, widows, and orphans." - Greg Mortenson ("Three Cups of Tea")

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Tonight I had my 5th speaking opportunity so far, sharing about my trip with the "Wesley Cell" group at my church (mostly retired folks - they host anyone who has gone on any kind of trip!). It was very encouraging. In all my presentations, I keep waiting for people to challenge/argue with me. But it always seems that people are very receptive. One gentleman came up afterward and told me, "I'm a conscientious objector. I'm a Mennonite... well, I was a Mennonite." And we had a good conversation about peacemaking and evangelism (how sometimes one is neglected for the sake of the other), and about his experiences during the war (he worked in a mental health hospital). He is very sweet, and it's kind of sad because he and his wife are having their 60th anniversary this year, but she has alzheimers. It was just a neat opportunity to get to know someone in my church, and really everyone in the room was affirming to me. Several people made mention of me going back again... and although I don't know yet, it's nice to know that people are supportive of me if I do go.
Well, one more scheduled presentation to go, and a couple yet to be scheduled... I'm so thankful for each chance I get to share, and for every person who listens and cares about what they hear.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hope for what will be

In any part of the world right now, there is evidence of injustice, evil and destruction. Though it is painful to see it, knowing that this is not the way God intended Creation to be, we must face the truth of it, including our own guilt in it.
But that is not all. We must not get stuck in the pain and guilt. We must also look forward with hope, and put the efforts of our lives toward what should be, what will be. Righting wrongs, forgiving offenses, admitting when we are wrong, seeking forgiveness where we have offended... Healing wounds, helping the poor, giving back what has been taken, giving up our own "rights" for the good of others, rebuilding what has been torn down... These are the ways of the kingdom of God. And His kingdom is coming.

My heart echoes the prayer of this song:

Let your kingdom come and liberate
Every prisoner of greed and hate
Let it fill our hearts
With love for you
For our neighbors and
For our enemies too

Let your kingdom come and end all war
And the pain and grief of the oppressed and poor
Let all violence be finally put away
Let the streets find safety so the children can play

Let your kingdom come and let cool streams flow
Let your fields flourish clean wind blow
Let your children save instead of destroy
Let every creature thrive free in health and joy.

Let your kingdom come and every knee bow
To the king who was, will be and is now
And let justice roll, as the rivers run
And let death give way to resurrection!

(Brian McClaren and Tracy Howe)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

More info related to BDS

"The Israel Boycott is Biting" -- Good!

Some interesting news from the Jewish Peace News blog, speaking of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement:

"The US protests are part of a growing global movement that has taken international law into its own hands because governments have not. And, especially since the attacks on Gaza, the boycotts have been biting. There are three reasons why."

The three reasons are:
1. "Ordinary citizens" -- people like you and me -- can get involved and actually make a difference.
2. Jewish groups are also participating, which shows that boycotting Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic. (Remember, Israel is a nation, with a governement that is obligated to follow international law as any other government is, so taking a stand against Israel is not the same as being anti-Jewish.)
3. This movement has its roots in the leadership of Palestinian people themselves:
"In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society coalitions, organizations, and unions, from the occupied territories,within Israel, and in exile issued a formal call for an international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions(BDS) until Israel abides by international law."

For the rest of the article, or the JPN abstract, see