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My Crisis & Starting Point: Finding Life as a Christian Peacebuilder

My journey to discovering that peacebuilding and reconciliation are the center of the good news Jesus embodied started in the picture below.

Mandeville Jamaica. This is Stones Hope. It was an old coffee plantation that started in the early 1800. Now it’s a small YWAM bible school for international students and an elementary school for local kids. I was there in 2004-2005.

 

See the long white building behind the tree at the bottom of the picture? That’s the kitchen. I was cooking breakfast in that building and listening to the radio when I woke up to the pain of the world and the weakness of the church.

I was frying some eggs. The first story I heard on the radio was about a murder in a town near me. I’m not sure what happened, but something in me snapped…something was terribly wrong with the world and I could feel it now… and it my experience the church didn’t have much to say directly to the pain of the world.

This was a big problem is Jamaica specifically.

Jamaica held the world record for churches per square mile of land from 2004 – 2014. I walked to 5 different churches 10 min from our school. Jamaica has 2.75 churches for every square mile. That’s a lot. It felt like a lot.

But…

Jamaica was also the (per capita) murder capital of the world one year later. “In 2005, Jamaica had 1,674 murders for a murder rate of 58 per 100,000 people….[5] the highest murder rate in the world.[2]” (1)

So…

While making breakfast I felt the crushing pain of the world and snapped at the God I grew up with! I accused God of being helpless to do anything the heal the world. Obviously God’s people the church weren’t effective to bring hope and healing into the world. Later, when I found the statistics from above, I was shock and my loyalty to Jesus Christ as the savior of the world became a big question mark.

The pain and fear of another person murdered in my part of the Island and the fact that Jamaica was full of churches who did little to bring healing to their nation provoked me. And I provoked God.

“Show me that you and your mission are big enough to heal and bless Jamaica and the rest of the world or I don’t need you or christianity. You are too small of a God to actually heal the world you created and we broke.”

The rest of the Christian Peacebuilding site is about the stories and skills I’ve learned on my journey between then and now. I write about 4 things:

  1. The vision: The Creator God is alive and reconciling the whole world
  2. The context: The stories and conflicts of our place
  3. Divine Interruptions: stories that show the world hope
  4. Energizing Spirituality: practices that energise and sustain us

peacebuilding skills, peacebuilding and reconciliation theology, personal spirituality to sustain Christian Peacebuilding leaders and other related thing’s I’ve learned along the way.

A summary of what I’ve learned

  1. Following Jesus in the only way to lasting peace and justice.

From 2004 until now I learned that Jesus Christ was God on earth. That his Way is actually the best way to participate in the healing the world with the creator.

I’ve seen that humans oppress each other and push others down to lift ourselves us. I’ve seen it in myself, my neighbours, violent terrorist groups in the Philippines and political candidates in Haiti and Canada. I think it’s universal. My children do it. Christians do it. Muslims do it. Everyone does it. We take what we want and push others out-of-the-way to get it.  The only way to change this is through a gift from the outside. A transformed mind, body, spirit and heart from the creator to everyone who wants it. A new core. I’ve experienced this as eternal love and acceptance from my creator. Jesus embodies it.

Jesus said, “…whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become a fountain of water inside him springing up into eternal life.” This is exactly what I’ve experienced, seen in the lives of others and see this is the way Creator God transforms the world.

  1. The Christian life is counter-cultural and can only be sustained together with others.

I’ve seen that a new community (the beloved community of Dr. Martin Luther King and written about by Rev. John Perkins) is essential to sustain the way of Jesus. Jesus way of living goes against the grain of the oppressive world and with the grain of justice, peace and wholeness for everyone. This is why Jesus created a new society starting with his 12 disciples. We need to see it embodied to believe it’s possible. The 12 disciples were slowly trained to be people who lived Jesus way, empowered supernaturally, supported one another, forgive one another, and taught this way in their writings the books of the New Testament and specifically in Jesus’ sermon in Matt 5-7.

  1. The true church doesn’t escape the world. We immersed ourselves deeper into the pain of the world like Jesus did.

The church isn’t a community who escapes the world. We are people being transformed and we immerse ourselves in the struggles and evil of the world. This is an act of worshipful love for God and love for our neighbours. We overcome evil with good. Active-nonviolence. The early Anabaptists (who changed their name to Mennonites later) are my Christian tribe and ancestors. They described the life of Jesus’ followers as people “walking in the resurrection.”

One Anabaptist author wrote,

“Anabaptists understood faith as a dynamic response to God’s approach [God’s invitation to join his family]; this response opened the [disciple’s] life to the transforming grace of God, which resulted in obedience and discipleship; faith and obedience were as inseparable as regeneration and discipleship. Faith of this sort inevitably produces fruit. Anabaptist faith involved commitment to Christ to follow Him in all things, as Lord, as example, as forerunner. It meant not simply resting in grace, it meant ‘walking in the resurrection.’” (2)

  1. The mission of God is to make everything new, whole and right again.

“Look! I am making all things new!” ~ The Revelation of Jesus 22:5 ~

The story of the bible is one continuous story that leads us to Jesus and the healing of the world.  It’s about a perfect beginning with God, humans rejecting God, God chasing humans and giving opportunities to live well and serve others. Then in the climax of the story the creator God entered our messed up world as Jesus and changed everything. The Christian hope and expectation is that Jesus will return to make everything right again.

We’re eagerly waiting here for Jesus and living faithfully to His Way since he is the real ruler of all the earth. While we live like this we invite others to find healing and life on His Way also. We want all people to meet Jesus and find healing too. So we gather as God’s family to pledge allegiance to him (this is worship) to listen to his voice (prayer) and nurture the world around us (loving  one another and our neighbours).

Scripture says that Jesus reconciled everything and he invites us to come back to God and be his family again! God’s gift to the world is reconciliation.

Through my travels, worship, study and loving my neighbours I’ve seen that God’s gift is big enough to heal the whole world!

If you want to live a full life now, like I do, participate in the creation’s healing, and patiently wait with hope in Jesus’ return then let’s journey together.

So…

If these ideas resonate with you as a global millennial (like me), Filipino, christian from the global south of anyone else living in a conflicted contexts join the other Christian Peacebuilders and signing up for our free newsletter and look back to reflect on some of our past stories.

My goal is to gather and equip multi-cultural teams and individuals who follow Jesus as Christian leaders who build peace and reconcile conflicts across the street and around the world. If this excites you email me and let me know by clicking here! I want to hear your story, passion and your struggle too.

If you have questions about Peace and Reconciliation Theology sent me a message by clicking here.

If you have a question about Peacebuilding training and skills message me here.

Blessings to you all! I hope my journey gives you courage and equips you to go deeper with our creator and build humble relationships with your neighbours. And I hope that we’ll meet one day somewhere in the world.

Footnotes

 

  1. Murder Rate in Jamaica [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Jamaica#cite_note-un37820-5]
  2. Bender, Harold S., Walking in the Resurrection.