Pietermaritzburg, South Africa – September 21 marked the International Day of Peace – an event observed around the world with the hope that global citizens may renew their desire to work for peace. Mennonite World Conference and its member churches participated in this global day of commitment to peace by celebrating Peace Sunday on September 20, 2015.
As we focused on peace, we were not far removed from images that shocked us with the recognition that shalom is still desperately needed around the world.
Earlier in September, the world was accosted with photographs of the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi (3) washed up on the shores of Turkey. We were confronted with the ramifications of years of civil war in Syria and ongoing bombing by foreign powers.
We saw the human price paid for the perpetuation of war and violence.
Although the flood of people leaving Syria and other countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, has been described as a refugee crisis, we know that it is but a symptom of a much larger issue. Europe has been in the spotlight for the way its countries have responded (or not) to the influx of refugees and asylum seekers crossing their borders.
But this is not only a regional issue. For decades, Colombia and DR Congo have seen large numbers of people flee or be internally displaced due to ongoing conflict.
This is a human issue with deep causes.
In the book of James, we are reminded that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18, WEB). The author of James reminds us that the way in which we sow matters. Our governments continue to assume that peace and justice can be achieved through violent means. Not surprisingly, peace pursued with guns and bombs continues to be unattainable.
And the spiral of violence costs human lives.
As people who seek to sow in peace, we would like to share stories of the way(s) in which our churches have responded to the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East or the larger backdrop of violence occurring in our own communities and regions.
Member churches in Europe, how are you responding to the influx of refugees coming into the EU? In what ways can other churches around the world support your efforts?
Member churches in other parts of the world, how are you responding to this immediate crisis in Europe and the Middle East? How are you working to be peacemakers amid the violence and injustice in your community and region?
Click here to share stories of how your church is responding.
Click below to support member agencies of the Global Anabaptist Service Network who are working with refugees and peace making:
- Caisse de secours
- Christliche Dienste
- Deutsches Mennonitisches Friedenskomitee
- Doopsgezind WereldWerk
- Eastern Mennonite Missions
- Mennonite Central Committee
- Mennonitisches Hilfswerk e. V.
—Andrew Suderman, MWC Peace Commission, secretary
Photo: Caisse de secours (http://caissedesecours.menno.fr/)