In a time of division and polarization, where many people feel isolated, not just physically, but in their thoughts, beliefs, and values, we take comfort from bold words from the Global Church. Words like the quote above invite us to think creatively about loving our enemy, working for justice, and serving as members of the living Church.
As we look back over this past year and begin our plans for the next one, our office asked friends and partners around the world to share prayers, statements, and messages from their church communities. The following are statements, prayers, and words for situations where it is difficult to find words. We hope they are an encouragement to you.
The role of the church
- “As a church, we speak for a God who made all persons in the image of the Creator’s likeness… We stand in solidarity with [people of color] during this troubling time and choose to confront the ugly underbelly of racism among us… As we confess our sin, may God grant us courage, wisdom and boldness to speak truth both to ourselves and to those in power.” -Mennonite Church of Eastern Canada
- “Our Church is a Church of people who pray and serve. This prayer and service is prophetic, bearing the voice of God in the present and future. Everything that happens in our land, everyone who lives there, all the pains and hopes, all the injustice and all the efforts to stop this injustice, are part and parcel of the prayer of our Church and the service of all her institutions. Thanks be to God that our Church raises her voice against injustice despite the fact that some desire her to remain silent, closed in her religious devotions.” -Kairos Palestine
- "Death has been sown, and with it, terror. And all this is happening in the context of drug trafficking and corruption that prioritize individual enrichment over the common good. This same individualistic emphasis is also manifest in the overall economic functioning of the country, making it a major obstacle to overcoming the poverty and inequality that afflict Colombia, and which particularly affects Afro-Colombian and Indigenous populations, women, and small farmer families. This poverty and inequality can lead people to join drug trafficking and armed groups. It is in this reality that we find ourselves as a church: a reality of violence and injustice that requires that the church, the body of Christ, respond with faithfulness and wisdom” -Colombian Mennonite Church
- "As followers of Jesus, son of God, who we recognize as sovereign God, we affirm our biblical and historical conviction to the way of peace as active nonviolence and love for neighbor, especially for the weak, the marginalized, the poor and the enemy.” -”Bread and Peace” declaration, Colombia
- “May our churches and faith communities be known as messengers of peace and may our buildings be used as places of peace.Train our members and leaders as promoters and agents of nonviolent conflict transformation and peace.(Matthew 5.9, 13-16).-Mennonite Church of Colombia
- "We encourage pastors, leaders, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and all socially conscious Hondurans to continue praying that God enlighten decision-makers to act in favor of the majority that is crying out for justice, and to abandon indifference and all escapist ideas, because this cruel reality affects us regardless of what we believe. We are in the world, even if we do not belong to it.” -Honduran Mennonite Church
- “ONAD appeals to all social media users (on Facebook, Twitter…etc) to counter hate messages with intellectual and constructive messages of love, patriotism and unity. “ -Organization for Nonviolence and Development, South Sudan
- "We see community in a world of loneliness, forgiveness in a world of wrong, sharing in a world of need, healing in a world of brokenness, and peace in a world of conflict.” -Columbus Mennonite Church
Responding to violence
- "As Christians we understand that there is not good violence and bad violence. We do not make a distinction between justified killing and unjustified killing, good deaths and bad deaths. Nor do we accept the taking of life as a lesser evil... We believe that the example and teaching of Jesus to love the enemy and seeking their transformation is clear (Matthew 5:43-48).” -Colombian Mennonite Church
- “Oh Lord, you are our hiding place and our shield. Our souls melt for sorrow (Ps 119:28), as we learn of brutal assaults in the city of Hebron… We pray that Palestinians living in Hebron may be left to live in peace.” -Sabeel Wave of Prayer, Israel/ Palestine.
- “We were outraged, and so was the entire world, by the resurgence of hate speech, the spreading of fear and the perpetration of terrible massacres against innocent people, an act that is incompatible with the doctrines of religions, law, and the moral obligation to safeguard the freedom of beliefs. We must be governed by dialogue, love and moderation” -Middle East Council of Churches responds to violence in France (paraphrased)
- "We as the Shepherds of the People of South Sudan continue to mourn and grieve for our country. Our hearts pain for the suffering, tired, hungry flock and for our leaders will all their fears, anger and trauma as they struggle both across our nation, the region and the world. the winds of violence and conflict have continued to obscure our road to light and peace, while the international community remains discouraged and frustrated by the absence of peace.” -Heads of Churches of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC)
- “We believe that God calls us to turn the other cheek, to forgive endlessly, and to love even our enemies. This means that we may never inflict violence on other human beings, participate in war, or make use of coercive threats, whether for just causes, self-defense, or any other reason. However, our commitment to nonviolence should not serve as an excuse to withdraw from the world or to turn a blind eye to injustice. Instead, the Bible calls us neither to "repay evil for evil" nor to "be overcome by evil" but to "overcome evil with good." As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it, the peace that we seek is not the absence of conflict but is the presence of justice. The Bible's name for this kind of peace is "shalom." Thus, we seek peace, but not with "the weapons of the world." Instead, we arm ourselves with truth, humility, and suffering love. Most importantly, because we too are imperfect and violent creatures, we constantly pray for the grace of God to help us in this calling.” -Shalom Mennonite Church
Speaking out to powers
- “We encourage the government, armed groups and the media to set aside attitudes of war and to enter into conversations and actions for peace, making substantial and fundamental concessions for the building of a new country, with full guarantees for human dignity with social and legal justice, including housing, employment, land, security, education, health and democratic freedom.” -”Bread and Peace” declaration, Colombia
- “We remind the central government that every action against justice and people’s rights will be called to account before the Lord of the Universe, who also uses the means of this world to shine a light into the darkness, and deliver retribution in this life as well.” -Honduran Mennonite Church
- "Peace according to Ralph Waldo Emerson cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. The International Day of Nonviolence reminds us of the universal principles of tolerance, understanding and non-violence. To South Sudanese, it means joining our hearts, minds and hands to build; a nonviolent, peaceful and prosperous country where everyone enjoys basic rights and live in dignity." -Organization for Nonviolence and Development, South Sudan
- “Despite the lack of even a glimmer of positive expectation, our hope remains strong. The present situation does not promise any quick solution or the end of the occupation that is imposed on us… Despite this, our hope remains strong, because it is from God. God alone is good, almighty and loving and His goodness will one day be victorious over the evil in which we find ourselves. As Saint Paul said: "If God is for us, who is against us? (…) Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long" (…) For I am convinced that (nothing) in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 8:31, 35, 36, 39).” -Kairos Palestine
- “Hope within us means first and foremost our faith in God and secondly our expectation, despite everything, for a better future… Hope is the capacity to see God in the midst of trouble, and to be co-workers with the Holy Spirit who is dwelling in us. From this vision derives the strength to be steadfast, remain firm and work to change the reality in which we find ourselves. Hope means not giving in to evil but rather standing up to it and continuing to resist it. We see nothing in the present or future except ruin and destruction. We see the upper hand of the strong, the growing orientation towards racist separation and the imposition of laws that deny our existence and our dignity. We see confusion and division in the Palestinian position. If, despite all this, we do resist this reality today and work hard, perhaps the destruction that looms on the horizon may not come upon us.” -Kairos Palestine
Working for reconciliation
- “Too often, our churches do not look different from the world around them – quick to judge and divide, slow to draw together and model unity across ideological diversity. When we do this, we betray our calling to the reconciling ministry of Christ. The Bible shows a different way. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit breaks down barriers between people and creates a community that values every language and experience. In Colossians 3, Paul outlines the characteristics of life in Christ: compassion, gentleness, humility, kindness, patience, forgiveness, love, unity and peace. These must be evident in how we relate to one another in every situation.” -MCC U.S.
- “Love is seeing the face of God in every human being. Every person is my brother or my sister. However, seeing the face of God in everyone does not mean accepting evil or aggression on their part. Rather, this love seeks to correct the evil and stop the aggression.” -Kairos Palestine
- “As people reconciled with God through the love of Christ, Christ calls us to the ministry of reconciliation across the divisions of this world (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). In this time of lament and reckoning in our world, we mourn systemic racial injustice and great divides between people within the United States and around the world. We also mourn seven decades of division and war on the Korean peninsula… We believe our deepest motivation to engage the Korean divide as followers of Christ is not political or economic but as peacemakers and agents of reconciliation, following Jesus’ costly way of the cross – of discipleship, forgiveness, and justice which restores broken relationships... We believe that God is faithful, and that the arc of the universe in God’s victory in Christ bends toward justice, reconciliation, and beloved community. We pray that someday all Korean people will be able to return to the birthplaces of their ancestors, to meet face-to-face across the peninsula, and to recognize each other as sisters, brothers and image-bearers of God.” -Statement by Korean American Christians
- “We believe that peace is an issue that belongs to everyone and so we will continue to seek peace with justice for and with everyone, carrying out constructive conversations and actions with any group that is willing to consider negotiated and nonviolent solutions to the country’s problems, with reconciliation as the horizon.” -”Bread and Peace” declaration, Colombia
- “It is well known that the church has historically played a key moral and spiritual role in healing and mediation at various points in our history to stop bloodshed and make peace. The approach of truth telling is a necessity to bringing people together again... . Peace is the call from the hearts of all the people of South Sudan. We are tired of war, violent conflicts of interest and we are urgently calling for all communities of South Sudan to shun tribalism and all kinds of fragmentation that inhibit us from attaining true nationalism, durable unity and working together for comprehensive peace and genuine reconciliation. Our people in the IDP camps, the Protection of Civilian sites, the refugee camps and in the diaspora need to engage one another, embrace the possibility of peace and walk the long journey towards healing, peace and prosperity in our beloved land. ” Heads of Churches of South Sudan Council of Churches
- “Our God is the God of the living and He walks with His people, hears their cries against oppression and injustice, and desires them to be free from sickness, ignorance, and extreme poverty, and to have life in abundance (Exodus 3:7, John 10:10)” -Honduran Mennonite Church
- "We commit ourselves to work more actively for public policies that reduce militarism, war, and political and economic inequities. We must work persistently and faithfully for a more peaceful and equitable world community... We call our members to a new level of generosity in order to respond to the victims of war and the challenge of peacemaking. We invite contributions for relief and reconstruction for war-affected areas” -Colombus Mennonite Church