Communities of Reconciliation: Can't We Just Be Enemies?
by David Vidmar
Near UC Davis, Muslim internationals from Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi, and Dubai, along with Christians from America and Indonesia, have been meeting together over the past six weeks. We call this a Community of Reconciliation. Sharing life together to build peace.
One of the things we do is simply get to know each other as people and tell the stories of our lives. One international told us of an ailment of his that was misdiagnosed for years. Surgeons opened him up to find his insides were severely damaged by TB. They removed his small intestines, telling him he was going to have a short life. "Don’t even get married," they told him. Today he has three children and is so grateful to God for his extended life.
We also share what is meaningful to us in our respective religious texts and actually read from each other’s holy books.
By Praying For One Another
Another thing we do together is pray and thank God for one other. Eating meals, laughing, and sharing our stories help us know one another better and to see each other as fellow sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.
Our Egyptian friend shared about being violently hit by a car while riding his bike. He was in a coma and hospitalized for 10 days. He had headaches and dizziness and lost his senses of smell and taste. We were able to pray for him, trusting that God is healing his brain more each day.
We also pray about our struggles and dreams. Family life, the challenges of coming to a new country, the uncertainty of visas, finances, and the dreams we all have for our families. We have prayed and grieved over the events in Ukraine, Syria, and Egypt. We have asked God for mercy and justice in these lands, and together we have imagined and prayed for a better world for us all.
Working together for the Common Good
We are now considering what we can do together before some must return home this summer. Have a Peace Feast to raise money for Syrian refugees? Do an English Club for migrant farm workers coming to our area in the spring? Maybe we can plant a community garden or clean the yard of an elderly neighbor?
In some ways, we are bold to believe that our little Community of Reconciliation can make a difference. But the truth is that we do have the power together to bring good into our part of the world. Something must change in the world between Muslims and Christians, because we form nearly one half of the world’s population, so we look forward to doing life together in new communities that reconcile.
Yeast of Peace
Jesus told the story of just a little yeast working its way into every part of the dough. The little yeast of peace and reconciliation can do the same to bring good news in this world. This yeast may end up permeating every part of our home countries and all over the world. We are not enemies. We hope for reconciliation with ourselves, God, and even across faiths.
No, in this connected world, we can’t just be enemies. Not now, not then.