Learning and Speaking of Peace in Istanbul

"Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war."
- Martin Luther King Jr. 

 

by Rick Love

This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. captures the purpose of my recent trip to Istanbul, Turkey. I joined religious peacebuilders from around the world for a three-day conference to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of our peacebuilding efforts. It was fun being with a group of peace warriors who ask hard questions and seek to upgrade and learn from one another.  

I have been appointed to the Global Advisory Council – a group of 11 peacebuilders -- to help spearhead this three-year collaborative evaluation. What a stimulating group. For example, one participant from Thailand works with extremist Buddhists, such as those in Myanmar who brutally persecute Rohingya Muslims. Another from Cameron spoke of his government’s war against Boko Haram (in Nigeria). And during the conference I sat next to an Israeli Jew and a Buddhist from Sri Lanka.

Here’s how the sponsoring groups describe why we are doing this:  

At a time when religious differences are often used to fan the flames of violence, the role of faith-based initiatives in building peace is crucial. Religious communities have powerful potential for making significant contributions toward preventing conflict, mitigating violence, and building reconciliation. However, inter-religious action—as a key approach to sustainable peace—still has not recognized its full potential as a force for sustainable peace.  

The Global Advisory Council, presenters and facilitators 

The Global Advisory Council, presenters and facilitators 

I learned so much from this gathering and look forward to helping Peace Catalyst International’s work become increasingly fruitful in the future.

I not only got to learn of peace but also to speak of peace while in Istanbul. Dr. Adnan Oktar, a Muslim peacemaker, interviewed me on Turkish TV. I enjoyed sharing about the work of Peace Catalyst International. But I was overjoyed when Dr. Oktar read many of the main passages about love in the New Testament and then exhorted his Muslim listeners to read and obey the words of Jesus!

I have two takeaways from my trip to Turkey. First, there are many Muslim peacemakers around the world who are promoting peace and who are eager to partner with us. They just don’t get the media attention they deserve. But now you have heard of at least one more Muslim peacemaker. Secondly, peace doesn’t just happen. We need to learn how to wage peace. This involves critical evaluation and discerning best practices for maximum impact. It demands the same rigor that the military puts into making war.

“Make every effort to live at peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14)!