[Individual articles from the Summer 2020 issue of Intersections will be posted on this blog each week. The full issue can be found on MCC’s website.]
Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14b
At an unscheduled stop at a mass grave memorial in northern Uganda, we gathered in silence, knowing that one of our colleagues had been forced to flee his village as a child to escape the horror documented by the tragic memorial cairn and plaque in front of us. “LRA War Victims . . . 365 people lay at rest,” the plaque read.
An hour later, we visited an MCC-supported agriculture project unfolding in relative calm and security. This initiative could not have been implemented during the horrific violence perpetrated by the LRA only 15 years earlier. I breathed a prayer of gratitude for the tireless peacebuilding efforts of Uganda’s Ocholi religious leaders, MCC partners who insisted on dialogue and prayer as weapons of peace in the early 2000s. Bishops and lay leaders, some of whom came to Canada to share their peace message, took enormous personal risk to be agents of the gospel of reconciliation. How often I have asked myself since this visit to Uganda: In situations of conflict, does MCC need to undertake peacebuilding work with local partners before any other development or humanitarian relief work is possible?
As disciples of the one whose peace surpasses understanding, MCC workers continue to make a distinctive and powerful witness for God’s peace in places marred by violence. They join and support the witness of churches, community-based activists and Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu leaders committed to finding alternatives to violence and transformative approaches to conflict. In this issue of Intersections, readers will see how MCC’s peace witness is forged through relationships with “the enemy” and how teaching peace emerges from within the communities where violence has been faced and met with nonviolence. As we mark 100 years of MCC, may we be grateful for the good news of the peace God has brought us in Jesus and faithful to God’s call to share and testify to that good news in our lives.
Rick Cober Bauman is MCC Canada executive director.