timeline for Bosnia

Before returning to the States in April, we’d already been in conversation with our mentors at Peace Catalyst International to think through where God could be calling us to next. And Bosnia was on the top of all of our radars.

As we’ve been back, we’ve spent time with family (Jack has needed some solid grandparent time!), reconnected with friends, and started to learn how to contribute to Peace Catalyst’s Jesus-centered peace building work in the States.

At the same time, though, we’ve been actively planning for our next steps to Bosnia.

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approach to partnerships in Bosnia

Peace Catalyst International (PCI) staff have traveled to Bosnia for learning trips and have significant relationships with Bosnians involved in peace building work there. However, PCI has not vetted potential organizations to the degree that is needed to launch an official partnership. Vetting organizations and identifying commonalities and distinctives are incredibly important in PCI’s processes as it looks to expand its work internationally. So this year, we are focusing on getting to know the landscape of the various religious communities involved in peace building and the non-profit sector in Bosnia before we identify partner organization(s) and a sponsor for our residency.

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resisting ethnic divisions in schools

Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs have very different accounts about why the Bosnian War occurred. As a result, each group has different perspectives about the wrongdoing of other parties, which allow politicians to politicize the stories of their own victims and incite further division.

So, what does that mean for the education system in Bosnia? How do you teach Bosniak, Croat, and Serb children while groups still don’t recognize the others’ versions of history?

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Peter’s unintentional peace building

The call to build peace by welcoming outsiders and loving enemies can be uncomfortable and off-putting. But it’s not only difficult for us now – it’s been difficult for God’s people from the beginning. God’s call to love indiscriminately is so…not human. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways (Is. 55).

The story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 shows us how God continued to teach his people to become like Jesus by loving enemies and welcoming outsiders. Their interaction is a great model for us today.

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starting tips for interfaith peace building

There’s a lot of increased interest about other people and faiths in today’s globalized world. Recently, our friends and acquaintances have asked about resources and ideas that can help them get involved in local peace building efforts between people of different faiths, especially with local Muslim communities. So here are some starting tips, but please contact us with any questions, comments, or suggestions.

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visiting local mosques, building friendships

Although visiting a mosque with a Muslim friend is usually easier than going on your own, you might not know any Muslims yet or the Muslims you do know may not go to prayers regularly. That shouldn’t get in the way of your interest in meeting your Muslim neighbors or learning more about Islam. I’ve found that even Muslims I’ve just met are excited to show off their place of worship and answer my questions. While I’m certainly not an expert, people sometimes wonder what steps I take to visit a local mosque and how they might be able to meet their Muslim neighbors as well – so here are a few tips.

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Modern-Day Good Samaritans in Bosnia

It’s good to be back home with Stephanie and Jack after an amazing trip.

Peace Catalyst friend and mentor, David Vidmar, and I went to Bosnia for 6 days (May 7-12) and spent a lot of time meeting with and listening to Christian religious leaders, imams, and peacemaking nonprofits. Our hope was to determine whether there could be next steps for us (the Careys) to work as Peace Catalyst staff in partnership with a local organization in Bosnia, and whether there was space for us as American Protestant Christians to genuinely help in peacemaking efforts going on in the region. (For a quick background of the conflict, go here.)

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a week with a Muslim imam & an Old Testament professor

At the Center for Reconciliation’s summer institute, I was recently able to take a short class on Religious Peacemaking for Christian and Muslim Leaders with Abdullah Antepli, a local imam, and Ellen Davis, an Old Testament and Hebrew professor at Duke Divinity School.

From a birds’ eye view, we looked at inter-religious dialogue as a form of peacemaking, both as a counter to terrorism and as a faithful practicing of our own faith. We also studied the book of James as a model for inter-religious dialogue with Muslims, both in how it shows how we should faithfully approach interfaith conversations and what the content of those conversations between Christians and Muslims could be. Finally, we visited and spoke with Muslim leaders at two mosques and enjoyed a wonderful Iftar dinner with Imam Abdullah’s family.

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the stories behind the numbers

It’s been very difficult to calculate the casualties and number of people who were killed, injured, raped, or forced to flee from their homes during the Bosnian War, primarily because the process has been highly politicized and “fused with narratives about victimhood” from nationalistic politicians on each side. Today, more than twenty years later, statistics about ethnic crimes and war casualties are still used to fuel political agendas and stoke ethnic and religious hatreds in the region.

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