- What is Jesus-centered peace building?
- Why do you do Jesus-centered peace building rather than traditional Christian mission work?
- How do you do Jesus-centered peace building work? What does it look like?
- What evidence do you see for peace building work in the Bible?
- How do I get started (individually or as a small group)?
- How can our small group or church get involved in peace building work?
- What about conversion? Shouldn’t we try to convert Muslims to Christianity?
- What about saving people from hell?
- What about Muslim violence and the persecution of Christians?
- Do Muslims speak out against terrorism and other forms of violent extremism? (Yes, they do.)
- How should I respond to fear, hatred, and misunderstanding about Muslims among Christians around me?
Even though I kept nervously watching the news and looking for messages from my family in Houston while Hurricane Harvey hovered over the city, my second trip to Bosnia from August 22-29 was both a lot of fun and a “success.” I reconnected with friends, met new ones, and received a lot of great feedback from Bosnians of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. My first trip (read that trip reflection here) was to learn whether and how my family, as Peace Catalyst staff, could be a support to ongoing local efforts to work for peace. (We’ll be trying to nuance our understanding of how we can do that concretely for years to come.) This second trip was primarily about discerning who could be a local partner to sponsor our residency while we learned from and joined their work.
Some Muslim peace builders and a Protestant pastor offered me some of the most helpful guidance and encouragement:
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.
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.
A friend recently asked me, “Why do you focus on ‘peace building’ in your work rather than engage in traditional Christian mission work?”
It’s a great question, so here’s an attempt at an answer.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Jesus-centered peace building work requires an internal disposition and some simple practical steps.