Why a Peacebuilding Novice Attended the Evangelicals for Peace Meeting

by Natalie Grillo

“What am I doing here? How did I get the chance to be in this room?”

Those questions resonated through my mind countless times during the most recent Evangelicals for Peace (EFP) meeting in Washington, D.C. Surrounding me were brilliant and articulate representatives from Sojourners, World Vision, The National Association for Evangelicals, The Friends Committee on National Legislation, and many other impressive and impactful organizations (as well as, of course, PCI’s own President, Rick Love, who is the visionary behind the EFP Network).

The goal and focus of the meeting? To deepen relationships between evangelical scholars and activists who are committed to the pursuit of a biblical, comprehensive, and proactive peace and to work together to bring that form of peace to the nation and world.

There I was – a woman who, though interested, is still relatively ignorant to the enormity of the issues pertaining biblical peacebuilding – surrounded by extraordinary people from extraordinary organizations who were gathered to focus on an extraordinary goal. What was I doing there?

The practical answer: to help facilitate the logistics for the meeting and to take notes. I was there to take care of the “details” so that these exceptional people could focus on the main topic. And additionally: to gain experience and enlarge my understanding of these vitally important issues (and as Rick said, “to continue my education”).

But as I executed those tasks, I also was privileged to get to observe the enormity of what was happening in that room. In what can only be described as a “Kingdom moment” where the presence of God was truly palpable, I observed 15 people who are first and foremost passionate about Jesus. Fifteen people who care so deeply about Jesus and the world that they are determined to figure out a way to allow His true peace to permeate every facet of society. Fifteen people who are so brave that they are willing to attempt to tackle some of the biggest issues surrounding our nation today: the Middle East conflict, drones, torture, equality of women, immigration, and nuclear bombs – and not just the issues themselves but more importantly, the core beliefs that drive the ways we as a society think and act about these enormous issues. Fifteen people who are brilliant yet humble, driven yet collaborative, independent yet unified, and willing to look at the big picture yet also to develop tangible steps to accomplish something significant.

I didn’t leave my whirlwind trip to D.C. feeling insecure or like an imposter, nor did I leave discouraged at the depth of pain and depravity that truly exists in our nation and world and the enormity of the task before EFP, its members, and others who share the same burdens and aspirations. I boarded my plane pensive yet hopeful; I left encouraged to know that people like these fifteen exist, rooms like this exist, and God truly is at work - that He sees the deeper issues affecting our society and nation even if/when we don’t, that He is relentlessly working to bring His peace to brokenness, and that He chooses to use His people to do so.

So, in answer my own questions, I’m pretty sure that is what I was doing in that room.