December 01, 2005

Costly peacemaking

I've been a huge admirer of Christian Peacemaker Teams since nearly a decade ago when, as a senior in college, I considered joining their Hebron team after hearing Cliff Kindy speak at my university. Unfortunately, my health hasn't been strong enough for me to do so. And I have to admit, I suck at confrontation, which is a lot of what CPT does in their effort to "get in the way."

But though my gifts and calling have not been in that direction, I have sought to keep them in my prayers throughout the years of email updates, listservs, and calendars with artwork focusing on the various people for whom CPTers have helped provide non-violent protection in places such as Haiti, Columbia, Palestine, and now even East Congo.

It hasn't been easy. They have faced deportation, harassment, arrest, and physical violence. Several in the Hebron team have been attacked by Israeli settlers while accompanying Palestinian children to school. We're talking broken bones, being whipped with chains.

And now Iraq.

When I heard that some peacemakers had been kidnapped by "insurgents" in Iraq, visions of Margaret Hassan immediately came to mind, as well as fear that they would be CPTers -- not that any other peacemaker groups would somehow be less valuable, but I've always felt close to CPT. Yesterday CPT confirmed that indeed the four people paraded on al-Jazeera were from CPT.

Sojourners today had an article from a friend of Norman Kember in which he talks about how Kember wrote before leaving for Iraq that he was afraid of being a "cheap peacemaker."

"Talking, writing, demonstrating" in Britain about peace was not taking risks like young servicemen in Iraq, he said.

CPT started with the goal of taking up Ron Sider's call to make peace with as much effort as goes into war. Today somewhere in Iraq, Norman Kember, Tom Fox, James Loney, and Harmeet Singh Sooden are doing just that.

Please pray for them. Pray that those holding them will feel the love of Christ that their captives have for them.

O Lord, how many are our foes who battle against us and say: there is no help for them from God or man. O Lord, stretch forth Thy hands that we may remain Thy people in both faith and works. If we must suffer, let it be in the ways of Thy justice and Thy truth — let it not be because of our injustice or hatred against anyone. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy.

(From a special petition to add to the Augmented Litany in the Divine Liturgy found at InCommunion: the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship -- do remember that I'm the quirky Byzantine-rite Catholic here and my liturgical tradition is different than that of the Roman rite. )