With the terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, the past few days have proved emotionally and spiritually challenging. Through God’s perfect timing and mercy, however, we were grateful for the opportunity to process our emotions with a group of peace-building Muslims and Christians all weekend long.
On Friday evening, thirty Muslim and Christian young adults met at the beach for a bonfire. They made s’mores, sang songs, and prayed earnestly for peace everywhere. They took pictures together and posted it on social media accounts, determined to show another narrative in the face of cowardly terrorist attacks:
From a Muslim participant: “This [is] priceless evidence that somewhere in this new generation, despite the hate and fear and phobias, there are interfaith bridges being built… so it came to life, exactly like the fire we built together to stay warm and light up our night and our love of God. Together we wrapped up the night in prayer for Peace. Peace everywhere. Peace to everyone.”
From a Christian participant: “Peace across faiths is possible. I thank God for the opportunity to experience this type of peace this weekend and for the people I have met along the way. We were able to talk, laugh and pray that great acts of violence would stop. My hope is that as we continue to grow in friendships and will also grow in peace with each other.”
The next morning, on Saturday, Muslims and Christians met at a home for an intensive peace-building training. At the start of the training, we had a minute of silence for the victims of these tragedies and then focused our energies on understanding one another with the intention of breaking barriers and forming new friendships. Over coffee and breakfast, the group spent the morning healing, making new friendships and taking a step on their journey to become peace-builders:
Christian participant: “I have so much to learn. Everything was explained very well and I look forward to learning more and becoming friends with more Muslims”
Muslim participant: “I loved the openness and discussion that was facilitated by both Muslim and Christian leaders. The respect demonstrated in that was very evident”
Throughout the weekend, we experienced and witnessed two types of tears in response to the week’s horrific events– tears of sadness and tears of frustration. The sadness is overwhelming. To see the images and hear the stories can be overwhelmingly painful and sad. It is important and good to mourn and grieve for as long as we need.
We have also seen and experienced tears of just utter frustration. For those who have committed their time in one way or another to peace-building, every terror attack feels like five steps back in a field of work that takes months, sometimes years, to take two steps forward.
Thankfully, as we process the sadness and frustration, there is also a swell of determination growing that now, more than ever, we must work on changing the narrative one friendship at a time. In this way we turn the pain into a strength to work even harder at seeing peace.
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