Friday, February 19
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International peacemakers spread word on peace and justice issues
Personal Stories Give Presbyterians Added Perspective on God‘s Work in the World
International peacemakers from 10 different countries visited the PC(USA) headquarters last fall before embarking on a month-long trip to speak on and interpret peace and justice issues to Presbyterian congregations across the country. The group participated in a comprehensive two-day orientation session in which the agenda included meeting PC(USA) staff, worship and presentation practice before departing to visit their first hosts.
Three of the peacemakers took time out of their busy schedule to speak to a class of divinity students at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary about their Christian mission experiences. In all, 43 presbyteries, five colleges and theological institutions, and two mission networks hosted the peacemakers.
The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program sponsors the Peacemakers initiative, making it possible for peace and justice leaders from overseas partner denominations and organizations to visit Presbyterian churches and congregations. One of the program’s main goals is to engage Presbyterians with firsthand personal stories and experiences of peace and justice work around the world.
“In some ways it exposes Presbyterians to stories we need to hear, and in some cases it serves to correct narratives that we get from our own media,” says Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “In many cases these individuals tell hard stories of struggle, oppression and injustice, yet these are places where God’s spirit is alive, people are strong and faith is evident. Our hope is that Presbyterians’ hearts and lives will be touched and their spirits strengthened by the connections we have in Jesus Christ around the world.”
Over the past 30 years, Presbyterian churches have hosted nearly 300 Peacemakers from 57 different countries. The 2015 initiative focused on five major areas:
♦ Addressing the root causes of poverty, particularly its impact on women and children.
♦ Healing and reconciliation in cultures of violence
♦ Sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ
♦ Responding to natural and human-caused disasters
♦ Advocating for God’s vision of a just and peaceful world
The 2015 International Peacemakers, and their respective countries, were:
♦ Berthe Nzeba – Democratic Republic of Congo
♦ Edelberto Valdés Fleites – Cuba
♦ Sushma Ramswami – India
♦ Hendrik Shanazarian – Iran/Armenia
♦ Rami Al Maqdasi – Iraq
♦ Ashraf Tannous – Palestine
♦ Jerome Bizimana – Rwanda
♦ Deon Snyman – South Africa
♦ Saman Perera – Sri Lanka
♦ Vartkes “Kass” Kassouni – Armenian Diaspora
According to Horton, the program provides Presbyterians the opportunity to offer hospitality to the guests, whom he calls brothers and sisters in Christ. And giving them an opportunity to share their stories among Presbyterians is energizing to each peacemaker.
“They view this opportunity to tell their story as a gift,” says Horton. “We feel like they are giving to us, but they feel like we’ve given them a gift by inviting them, and they are so appreciative.”
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Let us see you in those we serve, and in those who serve others. Amen.