Monday, January 5, 2015

Rise of the Peacemakers

Christian Peacemaker Teams offers opportunities to advocate for peace and justice around the world.

Christian Peacemaker Teams: I think you will find that these are rather bold words to put together if you start asking around. If you know or are a peacemaker, you know that one is dangerous enough. Put numerous peacemakers together and make a team, well ... it can get interesting. And to be known as Christian peacemakers in a country that is mostly Christian, that happens to have the world’s largest military budget, and asks for it to be under God’s name is also rather daunting. When saying such a phrase as “Christian Peacemaker Teams,” be aware, it could be consequential to your future.

A Mennonite man named Ron Sider started Christian Peacemaker Teams in 1984. Sider had a vision: to give peacemakers the same chance to take peace as seriously as soldiers take war. In this, he raised a heavy concern to the peace churches [Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Society of Friends (Quakers)], that our peace roots have become weak, that conscientious objection alone is not what Jesus was submitting to. What good are pacifists if they refuse to fall to the hands violence, but fail to be advocates for justice? We need peacemakers.

Today, Christian Peacemaker Teams is active in many places around the world. The organization works with local nonviolent grassroots groups that oppose human suffering.

Michael Himlie participates in a demonstration at Colorado State University during the Church of the Brethren 2014 National Youth Conference.                                                                                                                                                           (Rick Polhamus)

When members of one society want to destroy those of another, there are three ways to do this:

1. Kill everyone on the other side
2. Move the enemies against their will
3. Make life miserable for the opposing side

The first two options tend to draw significant international rebuttal, so the third option is the most common and is the easiest to keep under the radar. From my personal viewpoint, being in Palestine and Israel, it is easy to see how efficiently Israel practices the third option to create a pure Jewish state through its occupation of Palestinian lands. Christian Peacemaker Teams, and other nonviolent organizations are created or placed here to be a voice for the oppressed and advocate for peace.

When we asked the oppressed Palestinians and Bedouins what we should do when we return to the States, the largest response was, tell your government to stop supporting the occupation. The United States is the largest financial supporter of Israel, and enables Israel to continue the occupation. It is important to be driven by the burden of knowing, to be educated. It is worse to be aware of the occupation in the West Bank and do nothing about it than it is to know nothing about the occupation at all. Please consider supporting or even joining the bold works of Christian Peacemaker Teams. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all.” (Romans 12:18)

Michael Himlie is the Youth Peace Coordinator to the Church of the Brethren at On Earth Peace. He has also volunteered with Christian Peacemaker Teams, Brethren Volunteer Service, and the New Community Project.

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