Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the Peacemakers

In May I shared how positive it was that 7000 people, many of them Christian, had come together to march against the recent xenophobic attacks. Thanks to an encounter with a sport-loving Bishop, I’m left reconsidering how peace-full demonstrations really are…

Why the change of heart?

As a result of the global conference co-hosted with Call2All, Tearfund and YWAM, we had the privilege of hosting Bishop Efraim Tendero (Ef to his friends), the Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance. Following Bishop Ef’s comprehensive overview of baseball in response to my piecemeal attempt at explaining cricket using the table mats and condiments at hand, I was left further enlightened by his refreshing approach to peace making. To put our conversation in context, Bishop Ef was influential in brokering peace between the Filipino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, ending a bloody conflict dating back to the 60’s that’s cost an estimated 120,000 lives.

apmrBishop Ef sketched this rough diagram (left) to explain how, not unlike our context, the root cause of the Philippine conflict was social injustice – people not being paid fairly and in their case Muslims being marginalised and misunderstood. Bishop Ef, like the majority of his Catholic country, was raised to believe that, “A good Muslim is a dead Muslim.” The Bishop has since sat down and formally apologised to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

cdhRather than understanding, marching promotes, “I’m right, you’re wrong.” With another helpful diagram (right) Bishop Ef urged us to identify the ‘doves’ on both sides of the conflict; men and women of peace across faith, political, sexuality, gender and race divides.

Whilst one should avoid ‘hawks’ – those that will always prosper from the conflict – one should build relationships with ‘doves’. Mission, Bishop Ef says, involves, “Harmony with God, harmony with self, harmony with others and harmony with creation” – at Soul Action we call this Integral Mission.

After successfully broking peace in the Philipines, the Bishop is urging the United Nations to encourage its member states to allocate a percentage of their defence budget to dialogue.  Why the defence budget rather than any other budget? “…because defence isn’t just about arms and ammunition its about dialogue that promotes understanding and respect.” What a blessed man!!!

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