Aug 26, 2009

Working for Peace in a Violent World

I just graduated from AMBS (Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary) in Elkhart Indiana with an MA: Peace Studies this spring. This program has helped me to understand peace and justice through a Biblical lens, and has taught me to be more critical and thoughtful about peace, violence and the position and role of the Church on a variety of issues that are present both locally and internationally.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the enormous task of making peace in our world, and feel discouraged that my contribution to this work will not make much difference. And yet I know that together we can make a huge difference. I often feel like I need to go far away to work in the highly conflicted areas around the world. While I know that this is an option, I am aware that there are many issues right here at home. I don't have to go overseas to the see violence. It's happening in my own neighbourhood. I also don't have to go far to see poverty and injustice. Violence, poverty and injustice are with us here in North America, even though they are not as visible as they are in developing nations. One of the most meaningful classes that I took during my time at AMBS was a class I took during January 2009 in Guatemala. Although I had lived in South America (Paraguay) for part of my childhood, and had witnessed much poverty and injustice before, I had never studied the history and economic and social situation of a country while experiencing it simultaneously. It was difficult to learn about the ongoing violence in Guatemala, but it was a gift to be there and to learn first-hand about the daily struggles people endure there.

This summer I was able to participate in Mennonite World Conference in Paraguay. It was a bit of a homecoming for me, since I hadn't been there since my family left in 1997. It was a blessing to meet old acquaintances, and also to participate in discussion, worship and celebration with Mennonites from all over the globe. It was an incredibly enriching experience. Having left Paraguay when I still quite young, it was quite something to see the country with different eyes now.

I'm still unsure what God is calling me to, but for this year I will remain in the Goshen/Elkhart area and pursue work in peace and justice, while completing my final course at AMBS. At some point I hope to return to Canada or live overseas again, but for now I am here... Blessings to you who have read this and are also searching for God's calling for your life.

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