As a denomination, the Mennonite Church is committed to God's Kingdom of Peace. Rather than choosing violence or hatred, Jesus Christ calls us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to choose the costly way of self-sacrifice rather than the way of the sword. This is a difficult path, especially in a world which continues to believe that violence and war is the solution to the problems of conflict, hatred, and injustice. If you wish to learn more about pacifism, or hear stories of peace-making and peace-building, here are several websites you can go to:
Or follow MCC Ontario on Facebook, where they've been publishing stories as part of their "11 Days of Peace" leading up to Remembrance Day. Here's what they posted today:
11 Days of Peace, Day 10:
Instead of violence
On May 20, 2014 a massive bomb killed 122 people in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, not far from the office of Mennonite Central Committee. It is believed the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram was responsible for the attack.Images of the marketplace bombing were shown around the world as evidence of Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria. What the world did not see was Muslims and Christians, working shoulder to shoulder, to care for the wounded, and rescue people from the debris.
Several years ago, attacks like this one resulted in reprisal attacks and widespread violence. This time, no further violence erupted. According to MCC workers, the dramatic shift resulted from the patient, persistent peacebuilding work of MCC partners like the Emergency Preparedness Response Teams (EPRT). Birthed in 2005, EPRT is an inter-faith, grassroots network engaged in emergency response and peacebuilding across the state. Guided by advisory and management committees, its work is carried out by 15-member volunteer teams— comprised of some 270 trained peacebuilders, Muslims and Christians, women and men.
The volunteers are trained in emergency response, conflict prevention, mediation, and civic education. Dressed in blue shirts and red hats, they proactively detect and diffuse early warning signs of tension, violence, or natural disaster. Their work requires not only technical training, but personal wisdom, solid judgment, and the ability to build relationships of trust in environments where trust is fragile at best. Over the years, EPRT members have become vital actors for preventing crises and contributing to a culture of peace. Matthew Tangbuin, MCC program advisor and business manager, said of the May 20 bombings, “If not for the peace work that has been taking place... over the last number of years, this kind of incident could easily have erupted into religious violence.”