Peace Catalyst's Counter Terrorism Effort
by Rick Love
I was thrilled to see Qazi as he and his son Ameer walked into the Middle Eastern suite at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
Qazi and I had just met in Nepal at the Interfaith Leaders Network only two weeks earlier, where we sat together during meetings and enjoyed some deep conversations. Qazi was one of ten Pakistani peacemakers I had the honor of meeting (see blog part one and part two).
And Pakistan needs more peacemakers!
Pakistan is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world and a well-known haven for terrorists, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It has a stockpile of over 100 nuclear weapons, positioning Pakistan to be either a deterrent to or a supplier of terrorism.
Global security depends on Pakistan's response to peacemaking efforts like Qazi’s and the International Leaders Network.
Qazi courageously speaks out against Islamic extremism and protects the rights of persecuted Christians in Pakistan. He literally risks his life for peace. But in a glocalized world, risk is everywhere.
That’s why the FBI showed up at Martin Brooks's Peace Feast in Louisville recently.
Actually, they didn’t just show up; they were invited by Somali refugees. Why? Because these Somali refugees fear the recruiting efforts of the terrorist organization Al Shaabab. Al Shaabab was the group that attacked the Westgate Mall in Kenya on September 21, 2013.
As one Somali woman told Martin at the Peace Feast, “Our young men disappear [from here in America], and several months later we hear that they are back in Somalia. The recruiters for Al Shaabab prey on our children. They tell them they don’t belong in the U.S. They tell the young men that they will always be outsiders here and need to help their brothers in Somalia.”
By reaching out in love to Somali refugees, we show them that they belong in the U.S. We show them a better way – the way of peace through Jesus.
Thomas Davis recently represented Peace Catalyst International in Washington, D.C. at a “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” gathering. Shoulder to Shoulder is an initiative, hosted by the Islamic Society of North America, focused on defeating extremism around the world, including Islamophobia here in our own country.
Thomas was reminded of the global tentacles of terrorism at this meeting: “Attorney Rashad Hussain, a White House Special Envoy serving as something of an ambassador-at-large for the Muslim world, addressed the group. Mr. Hussain thanked us for the peacemaking, bridge-building work that we do at PCI and reminded us that our work has a 'very important foreign policy and national security function.'”
Our primary focus in Peace Catalyst is breaking down barriers between Christians and Muslims and building bridges of love. So we are passionate about protecting persecuted Christians in Pakistan and condemning Islamophobia in the U.S. But we are starting to realize that our work of promoting religious freedom has far-reaching consequences. In fact, it undermines terrorism (for more on this see Thomas Farr’s excellent book, World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty Is Vital To American National Security).
A few days after meeting Qazi at the National Prayer Breakfast, I was encouraged by President Obama’s message. Here’s what he said about freedom of religion and national security:
"History shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people, including the freedom of religion, are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful. Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism. So freedom of religion matters to our national security… promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy."
The President reminds us that the work we do in Peace Catalyst is not just a “feel good” effort. It isn’t just about warm relationships – as vital as they are from Jesus's perspective.
We are following Jesus and waging peace. One relationship at a time. One cup of tea at a time. One Peace Feast at a time. One conversation at a time.
In doing so, we find that part of our long-term impact reduces terrorism, strengthens national security, and addresses real issues in a violent world.