Peacemaking in the Way of Jesus -- In Images

As many of you know, I serve as a Global Peacemaking Coach with Peace Catalyst International, a vibrant, growing movement of Jesus followers committed to promoting peace in the way of Jesus and reaching out in love to those whose backgrounds and perspectives are different than our own.

Our work is not rocket science. Rather, it’s simply a matter opening our hearts (and often our homes) to meet people where they are, to build genuine friendship, to share with these friends the little things in life--like pancake suppers and play dates and coffee. This is loving others in the way of Jesus. And it’s how I want to live my life—because it is the way of Jesus, because it’s a liberating way to live, and because real friendship always leads to deep discussions and often new understandings about life and love and the most important matters of the heart.

With the caveat that I almost never remember to take photos and when I do they often turn out to be of poor quality, here are some images of our work from the last few months:

Saying Goodbye to Turkish Friends

ABOVE: The Davis family with Mustafa, Seda, Salih and Neda, dear friends from Turkey. Mustafa recently finished a graduate program at NC State, and they have returned to Turkey to resume their respective jobs in economics and landscape architecture. This was our last chance to visit with them before before their departure.

BELOW: After getting settled in Turkey, our friends emailed us this image. It shows a framed copy of the image above on their buffet and right next to their wedding photos. I was moved to tears! This dear family has blessed us with their friendship and their love, and we will always hold them in our hearts.

Muslim-Christian Reconciliation at Duke University

ABOVE: In late May, nine of us from Peace Catalyst participated in a Muslim-Christian reconciliation seminar at Duke. This image is from a class field trip to the Raleigh area's largest mosque. Peace Catalyst partners with this mosque on projects like Communities of Reconciliation and basketball camps. Image by Andy Larsen.

BELOW: Our class enjoying healthy exchange with Imam Abdullah Antepli (Duke University Muslim Chaplain) and Imam Sameh Asal (one of the Islamic Association of Raleigh imams and a scholar at Al-Azhar University). Both imams are friends of Peace Catalyst International. Image by Andy Larsen.

ABOVE: Bishop Abraham Yel Nhial of South Sudan was among the participants in the Duke reconciliation seminar. He was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, and his heart-breaking and hopeful story is chronicled in the book, Lost Boy No More.

BELOW: Bishop Abraham giving a talk during our bus trip to the mosque. During the week-long seminar, it was moving, inspiring, and at times uncomfortable to witness the gracious and yet honest exchange between Muslim leaders and Bishop Abraham. For me, this real talk about difficult issues was a seminar highlight! 

A New Afghan Friend

ABOVE: Peace Catalyst colleagues and I getting to know Bashir, the Afghan owner of a local restaurant. We invited him to to tell us his story, and in an hour-long dialogue we learned, among other things, that Bashir is the grandson of a former Afghan king, that his nephew wrote The Kite Runner, and that this delightful man loves to talk about his homeland. As my pal Andy Larsen put it, we had a wonderful conversation touching on Jesus, religion, and politics--all the stuff we're not supposed to talk about--and we walked away as new friends! Image by Andy Larsen

Building Friendship with Another Turkish Family

ABOVE: Hannah Beth, Nathaniel, and Azra playing at a science exhibit at Marbles, our local children's museum. Azra's mom, Sibel, is in the background.

BELOW: Cengiz and daughter, Asli, round out this beautiful, fun family. Cengiz is studying at NC State, and he and his family have become quite dear to the Davis family. Together, we have enjoyed outings to Starbucks and a Middle Eastern restaurant, multiple visits in one another's homes, and play dates at the museum, at city parks, at Chick-Fil-A, and at the public library. 

Multi-Faith Friends--Gardening for Good and God

ABOVE: Steve LaSala (blue jacket) of Beth Meyer Synagogue and Neal Foster of PCI pictured with Carrie, Hannah Beth, and Nathaniel Davis. PCI has an ongoing community gardening project that brings Jews, Muslims, and Christians together to help grow produce for local food banks. This image was taken in March 2013.

Diverse Friends--Gifts from God

These images represent some of the many friendships we share with people who come from radically different places in life. We receive each of these friends as a gift from God, and we give thanks to Him for the way He blesses us through their love and kindness.

I encourage you to get in on the action. Find someone in your community who seems really different than you, reach out in friendship, and begin building your own bridges into a brand new world. As you do, your new friends will get into your heart, you will get into theirs, and all of you will learn tons about life and love and faith. 

The reward is definitely worth the risk, so go for it!