Workshop: Peace: Mennonite Accessory or Missiological Foundation?
César García encountered the MB church at age 12. In his teens, like most Colombian youth who grew up in the context of Colombia’s 52-year civil war, César entered the military. He became a lieutenant in the Colombian Armed Forces, trained to kill. What a pilgrimage marked by God’s grace there has been from the uniformed soldier ready for combat to the gentle, humble man who is now the general secretary of Mennonite World Conference, working from Bogotá.
César brought his global perspective to his workshop on peace. Having survived two different near-by bomb blasts, he is a man worth listening to on such a subject.
César’s presentation focused on three aspects of peace as seen through the lens of the kingdom of God in which he stressed the people called by God as a people of reconciliation. The three aspects César addressed:
- the biblical foundations of peace,
- the ecclesiological implication s of peace,
- the missiological implications of being a people of reconciliation.
César offered an openly biased approach to his presentation; preferring to promote peace in terms of God’s creation of a people with a new ethic – love of the enemy, forgiveness of the offender, the openness to suffer for righteousness’ sake – all of which compels the people called by God to become attractive to the world which surrounds them.
As to ecclesiastical implications, congregations choosing this path of peace might engage in conflict resolution, mediation, coaching people through the complexities of forgiveness and restorative justice.
As to missiological implications (the church’s engagement with the mission of God), understanding peace as a foundation rather than accessory will compel the people called by God into church planting, social development, education and peacemaking in the most immediate contexts of our own neighbourhoods.
One African brother commenting on the presentation stated that too often those who teach peace are themselves not often people of peace and as a result contribute to conflict and violence. Peace will come, he said, when those seeking to liberate are one in the same as those who embrace the peace offered only by Jesus Christ.
—Ken Peters is pastor of Saanich Community Church, Victoria, B.C., Canada. He has been inspired and enlightened throughout his ministry by those who’ve engaged the world’s peoples with the gospel of Jesus Christ.