I am attending the San Diego First Church of the Brethren, a historic peace church during my three month stay in San Diego. I chose this church because I align with their values and my dear friend Linda Williams has been a part of this church for decades. I was surprised to hear that about 95% of the Nigerian school girls that were kidnapped in mid-April were part of the Nigerian Church Church of the Brethren. You can read more here.
Tears streamed down my face as Pastor Sara shared about her experience at the Church of the Brethren National Conference in connection with this tragedy. One of the resolutions they voted on was to have a period of prayer and fasting for the missing girls and their families who are suffering so much. A member of the Christian Peace Maker Teams wanted to add an amendment so that people could offer themselves up as substitutes for the girls. He said that he knew of a few people who were ready to give their lives up in exchange for these young ones.
Pastor Sara was in tears as she shared this very poignant statement which she witnessed with her own ears and eyes, and I cry even as I write. Just to hear someone talk about being in the presence of such heroism and self-sacrifice touches me deeply, and I feel so close to the persecuted church. This inspires me to be even more committed to surrendering my life to Jesus and to be a peace maker in every thought, word and deed. I also want to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that I can be an effective catalyst for the changes that need to be made in this world in order to help alleviate this unspeakable violence and pain.
I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I could be present at this church at this time, and that I can do at least a small part-like writing this blog post–to encourage people to participate in the prayer and fasting for these school girls and their families and others in Africa who are also suffering in similar ways.
Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see happen.” I want to look into my own heart and discern what is keeping me from being all that God wants me to be in each present moment–including the unforgiveness, critical and judgmental thoughts and self-condemnation that so easily can creep into my consciousness. And to replace those thoughts with prayers for friends, family and all who are suffering including these young girls and their families. Staying tender, soft, receptive, humble, teachable and vulnerable are ways that I know will help me to be more effective as a peace maker.
I hope you might feel inspired to do what you can do. I welcome your thoughts.