THE JOURNEY TO SHALOM
Shalom. Although it’s a Hebrew greeting used in the Middle East, it’s meaning is understood around the world: peace. It’s the state we all long for, yet it remains out of reach for many. An estimated 535 million children – nearly one in four – live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, often without access to medical care, quality education, proper nutrition and protection, says information from UNICEF. September 21 is International Day of Peace. In this edition of World at Your Door, you’ll find reflections and stories of hope and reconciliation that will inspire you to pursue peace in the world around you.
SHALOM – שלום
The biblical word for wholeness and peace is “SHALOM.” It means completeness. Nothing broken, nothing missing. This peace is not limited to an experience of inner tranquility, but a condition of life – private and public – where all creation flourishes as God intended. It is the substance of a biblical vision of one community embracing all of God’s creation. It is God’s dream that resists all our tendencies to division, hostility, fear, inequality, misery and suffering.
-Wordeed: An Integral Misson Primer
GLIMPSES OF SHALOM
A young girl in Bolivia receives an education.
Women in India can prepare nutritious food for their children.
Community members in Kenya have access to clean drinking water.
WHAT DOES PEACE MEAN TO YOUTH?
This year, the United Nations (UN) chose “Youth Building Peace” as the theme for International Youth Day. To commemorate the event, the UN featured a word cloud that depicts answers to a relevant question for the world we live in today: What does peace mean to youth?
There is a range of words represented in the heart-shaped graphic – words like “forgiveness” and “harmony” mingle with “prejudice” and “political”.
Take a moment to reflect on the words found in the image below, then say a prayer for peace in our world.
PEACE IN ACTION
Jesus is our peace
Jesus makes our peace
Jesus preached peace
Christ in Integral Mission: Being, Doing and Saying.
THE THINGS THAT MAKE FOR PEACE
This past summer, the world watched as Kenyans went to the polls to elect a new president. But when President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term in office, the opposition party disputed the results – sparking a wave of post-election violence that soon took centre stage.
Aaron and Erica Kenny, CBM Field Staff based in Kenya, witnessed how quickly peace diminished when protests and riots erupted in the streets. During this tumultuous time, the Kennys shared a personal reflection about peace. Here are some excerpts from their blog post:
As Jesus drew near the city, he wept, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:41)
Prideful leadership only escalates violence. And sadly, it is the poor and marginalized that are most vulnerable in times of conflict and unrest. But simply ignoring the suffering of others is equally harmful.
As Christians, we are called to be light to the world. To speak and demonstrate the love and hope of God, even to our enemies and neighbours. The things that make for peace are often costly. They require us to take seriously the inequity and suffering of others. Humility, generosity, and courage to listen and seek justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation – these things make for peace.
At a time when religious tension was keeping two faith groups apart in the Philippines, CBM worked with local partners to offer a radical alternative: they brought them together in one room.
In June, CBM partnered with local organizations to launch the first ever Inter-Faith Youth Leadership Gathering in Mindanao – a southern island of the Philippines that has a history of religious tension. A month prior to the leadership gathering, the government imposed martial law in Mindanao in response to recent violence in the area.
The leadership gathering, which took place over three days, included Christian and Muslim youth and religious leaders. Participants were paired with members of the opposite faith to take part in workshops, problem-solving activities, and to have meaningful conversations about their similarities and differences.
“There is a mutual tolerance, but also a big gap in understanding between the two people groups that has typically been filled with stereotyped images of one another, suspicion and discrimination,” explains CBM Field Staff Kathy Yango.
Norhaina, a 19-year-old Muslim student, was among the 20 students invited to attend the leadership gathering. Although she works and studies alongside Christians, she doesn’t have many interactions that would encourage in-depth conversations about faith.
“At first, I was aloof. [I wasn’t sure] why we talked about Christianity that much,” says Norhaina. “But then I realized that it helped me understand more of their beliefs, and it also widened my mindset towards their religion and their way of showing worship.”
Glonel is a Christian youth pastor who was also invited to participate in the leadership gathering. This experience provided a rare opportunity for him to better understand his Muslim neighbours. “Indeed, this gathering is life-changing. It changed my perspective towards my Muslim brothers and sisters – even though we have differences, we also have commonalities,” says Glonel.
Job Santiago, who works with a CBM partner in the Philippines, witnessed the change in Glonel’s perspective. “Glonel went back to his church and community as a different person,” says Job. “He is now ready to accept, understand and work together with his Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Now, Glonel is committed to sharing what he has learned with his community. Together with other pastors who participated in the leadership gathering, Glonel plans to create a program that will reach out to the Muslims living in his region.
“Any time individuals experience some measure of transformation, there is hope that there will be positive ripple effects for the wider community,” says Kathy. “In this case, there was intentionality in the gathering curriculum to help participants to strategize how they can impact their communities with what they’ve learned.”
Job believes that Glonel’s experience at the leadership gathering will continue to influence how he relates to others: “He has seen a bright ray of hope that genuine peace between Christians and Muslims is possible to attain.”