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December 14, 2005

Real Christian Peace-makers

Not all Christians in Iraq are trying to convert the Muslims. I have to admit that when I first heard about the Christian Peace-makers who had been taken hostage a couple weeks ago, my first thought was "Not again.  When will these missionary types learn?"  But after hearing more, I realized we had some really brave, caring people who had been kidnapped, people who take the lessons of Christianity back to their roots and put their lives on the line to help people and prevent violence. 

So I was very happy to find that Geov Parrish has written an article in the Seattle Weekly on these four activists, entitled "Heroism With a Difference".  There are photos and a lovely piece on what these four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) had been doing in Iraq and what the organization has been doing in other troubled areas. Here's a key exerpt:

CPT activists are pacifists, committed to active nonviolence. The CPT mission is to provide "faith-based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality." Activists like Fox, Kember, Loney, and Sooden know they are working in a war zone—that's the point. The idea is to save lives, by putting their privileged bodies in the way of violence, whether the threat is from Shiite death squads, Sunni gunmen, or trigger-happy U.S. troops.

Does it work? Iraqis must think so. Without support from host communities, groups like CPT wouldn't last a week. That support and their own wits are the only protection such activists have.


For citizens of a country like Canada, Britain, or the U.S. to renounce their comfortable lives and willingly walk unarmed into such a setting, fully knowing that by their very citizenship they are prime targets for deadly violence, takes more courage than is ever demonstrated by most soldiers, who usually are cocooned on their bases, surrounded by all the weaponry and protection in the world. Such a commitment takes not recklessness or foolhardiness but a deep and abiding belief in the sanctity of all life and a willingness to work to save the lives of others, even as one's own life is endangered.

These four, along with their CPT brethren, are not likely to be released. It just doesn't happen, even in this case when the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Palestinian resistance group, ask the Iraqis to do so. 

We can hold these courageous people in our thoughts and prayers for what they are doing there - trading their priviledged existence in the U.S or Canada or Great Britain for the risks of honoring non-violence and caring for fellow human beings in the midst of an horrendous war zone. As Geov puts it:

by their example, they are demonstrating in a way that occupying soldiers cannot that there are some Westerners who, no matter what their governments' policies, are willing to risk everything to help their fellow human beings.

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 14, 2005 at 02:42 PM in Miscellany | Permalink


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