So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
NEW GENERATION PEACEMAKERS
We live in an age of increasing polarization and conflict at all levels of social interaction. The recent rise in global terrorism and sectarian violence in the Middle East along with widespread political partisanship and renewed racial tensions in the U.S. are all symptoms of an overall decline in mutual understanding, respect, and empathy for “the other”. Although globalization, the internet and social media have helped connect people more than ever before, they have also increased divisiveness by producing a mass market for conflicting opinions that accentuate our differences.
Clearly, conflict and violence have been part of the human experience for millennia. However, in today’s world extreme political and religious forces seek to legitimize and institutionalize intolerance, bigotry and persecution so that violent confrontation is often seen as an acceptable option for settling disagreements. This is a disturbing development since the world now faces crises on multiple fronts that require more not less compromise and cooperation to solve critical problems and advance the common good for our families, communities, and societies.
Christians (who have theological perspectives that emphasize love, forgiveness, compassion and justice) are well equipped to help bring peace and restore “God’s shalom” to a troubled world. The whole biblical story reveals God’s plan to heal broken relationships and reconcile all things unto himself through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Prince of Peace teaches us, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God” and commissions us to be his ambassadors of reconciliation in our own lives, communities and throughout the world. It is for this reason that we have developed a new project called New Generation Peacemakers (NGP).
- To help Christians develop a good understanding of the theological foundations of peacemaking & reconciliation by studying related biblical scripture and discussing the practical application of those lessons for our world.
- To educate and equip new generations of Christians with the knowledge and skills of peacemaking and reconciliation so they can help restore broken relationships in their families, communities, workplaces, nations, and internationally.
- To motivate and mobilize Christians and churches to engage and support ministries and organizations in the U.S. and in conflict zones around the world who are working to promote peacemaking, reconciliation, justice, equitable development, and spiritual transformation.
- To build mutual understanding and cooperative relationships between American Christians and the people in conflict areas around the world through faith-integrated study abroad programs, study tours, collaborative projects, and social media connections.
Programs & Events
Beginning in the fall of 2016, the NGP initiative will offer a series of integrated, faith-based programs and activities including the following:
- Study Abroad Programs and Faith & Study Tours: to current or post-conflict areas (when possible) in partnership with Christian and secular organizations, and churches that are working in the areas of peacemaking, reconciliation and restorative justice. Upcoming programs that are currently being planned include: Environmental Peacebuilding in the Holy Land (a two-week Faith & Study Tour for Christian adults in Israel, Palestine and Jordan - October 2017), and The Church in World Affairs & Diplomacy (a 6-week Study Abroad Program for Christian undergraduate and graduate students in Geneva, Switzerland - June-July 2018.)
- Seminars & Presentations: for student ministries, churches, and educational institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of the U.S (starting in January of 2017).
- Conferences & Weekend Peace Retreats: for Christian students and young adults at retreat centers such as Mt. Hermon in the Santa Cruz Mountains of northern California, or Highlands Presbyterian Camp & Retreat Center in Allenspark, CO (near Rocky Mountain National Park). Our first Peace Retreat: Restoring God's Shalom in the World is being planned for July of 2017.
- Directory of Peacemaking Ministries & NGOs: to help connect and engage Christians with those organizations working in the U.S. and conflict zones around the world (such as the Middle East, East and Central Africa, Kashmir, and the northern Caucasus region).
Issue Areas to Explore
Within the general theme of peacemaking & reconciliation the NGP programs will address some of the following subjects and issues:
- The teachings of Jesus and other biblical scriptures that mandate and support peacemaking, reconciliation and justice (using resources such as: Kingdom Ethics by David P. Gushee & Glen H. Stassen, Reconcile by John Paul Lederach, and Jesus Outside the Lines by Scott Sauls.
- The biblically-based "just peacemaking" process following the peacemaking paradigm presented in: Just Peacemaking: the New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War, edited by Glen Stassen.
- Theological foundations of the current conflicts in the Middle East (and other parts of the world) from Christian, Muslim and Jewish perspectives, and faith-based solutions to these problems.
- Peacemaking and reconciliation principles and practices as applied to racial, ethnic, class, religious and gender conflicts in the U.S. (using resources such as: Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart by Christina Cleveland, and the Resources for Reconciliation Series published by the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School.
- Christian peacemaking & reconciliation as a way to bring credibility and acceptance to the Gospel message (as articulated in the essays found in: Evangelical Peacemakers: Gospel Engagement in a War Torn World, edited by David Gushee).
- The role of entrepreneurship, job creation and sustainable development in peacebuilding and reconciliation (using resources such as: Peace Through Entrepreneurship and other writings by Steven Koltai at the Brookings Institution).
- The powerful and strategic role of women in peacemaking and reconciliation (using materials from Eastern Mennonite University).
- Environmental peacebuilding and security issues in the Middle East and East Africa (drawing from publications such as: Environmental Security: Approaches and Issues edited by Rita Floyd and Richard A. Matthew, and the work of EcoPeace, an interfaith environmental peacebuilding organization in the Middle East.
- Religious freedom, and interfaith dialogue and cooperation (using the rich resources of the Institute for Global Engagement such as their quarterly journal, the Review of Faith & International Affairs).
- Understanding Islam and building better Christian-Muslim relations (drawing on the many publications and writings of Dudley Woodberry from Fuller Theological Seminary, and other resources such as: Peace Catalysts, by Rick Love).
- The strategic role of international education and cross-cultural exchange in peacebuilding (using materials from the annual NAFSA Ron Moffatt Seminars On Peace & Global Society).
New Generation Peacemakers programs are currently being developed and will be described in detail on our website over the next few months.
For recommended books on faith-based peacemaking & reconciliation go to our Resources Page.
FOSTERING CHRISTIAN GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT THROUGH INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION & LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT