Called to be a daily peacemaker
The Lutheran World Federation organized its first interfaith “Peace Messengers Training” in September 2017. The participants gained skills and tools on advocacy, negotiation and mediation. They also learned how to combine such capacity with individual experiences, faith and cultural traditions.
During Advent a blogpost prepared by one of the participants will be shared every week alongside a prayer inspired by their words.
The vocation of a peacemaker in the multi religious context of the Holy Land
The opportunity to live in a region with Muslims, Jews, Christians and people from other parts of the world makes it possible for me to be a peacemaker.
Peacemaker: what does this word mean? It means action. It also means building bridges between people. I recently participated in the Peace Messengers Training organized by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Jerusalem. This workshop was an amazing opportunity to not just learn about peacemakers, but to also see their role through the eyes of many cultures and religions. The workshop was a powerful start. We had many people from all over the world and from different backgrounds and faiths. We worked together to understand how to be peacemakers wherever we live and with whomever we engage.
The conference was a strong place to start a program for peacemakers. For me as a Palestinian, everyday life is about understanding peace and living it. In my country, I face daily challenges from the occupation in direct and indirect ways. There are days when I wake up only to find no water in the house, because Israeli authorities control the water source. On other days when I want to visit my family with my wife and two little girls, we have to pass through military checkpoints and always be on the lookout for Israeli soldiers shooting teargas.
In spite of such experiences, in my life as a Palestinian Christian, I have to learn every day how to love all my neighbors and also build God’s Kingdom here. Another daily aspect is also being part of the minority faith here, which means that we express our faith, respect and love to our Muslim neighbors. Faith in my context is not just something I have in me, it is who I am. My faith identifies me here, and because of it, many people label me in a certain way.
My ability to interact with others enables me to strengthen my gift of being a peacemaker, and have the chance to build God’s Kingdom even here as a Palestinian.
During the Peace Messengers training, one of the main perspectives that I enjoyed was learning what peace means in different countries and faith backgrounds. I experienced how peace is a universal language with which we all agree and whose need we acknowledge everywhere anytime.
What I took home with me from the training is that I need to interact more with everyone due to the opportunity I have of living in an area with Muslims, interacting with Jews, meeting people from the international community and breaking bread with different Christians. My ability to interact with others enables me to strengthen my gift of being a peacemaker, and have the chance to build God’s Kingdom even here as a Palestinian.
Multimedia and video producer Saleem Moussa Anfous is a member of the Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. He studied Biblical Studies and Media and is currently pursuing a master’s course in Leadership and Ministry. In September, he joined young people from Christian and Muslim backgrounds around the world in a week-long LWF training on peace building skills and practice in Jerusalem.
God of Peace,
When Jesus was born into our world in Bethlehem, the angels proclaimed the good news that God was with us, Emmanuel. That good news of your reconciling presence with all the earth revealed that your reign of peace invites us into radical solidarity. This season we pray that this message of peace will enable us to be peacemakers. Strengthen us to enter into solidarity with all people, regardless of our real or perceived differences, so that together we can participate in your reign of peace on earth wherever your Spirit finds us. Amen.