Local to Global: Peace Catalyst’s Widening Influence
by Rick Love
Martin Brooks, Director of the Midwest Region for Peace Catalyst International, got a phone call from the World Affairs Council. They heard that he was the “go-to” guy in Louisville when it comes to Muslims, so they asked him if he would host Muslim dignitaries sent from the State Department. He joyfully welcomed 15 International Muslim guests to his home for dinner.
Most of Peace Catalyst’s work involves connecting with Muslim students, refugees, and professionals in the ten cities where we work. PCI Denver, for example, puts on peacemaking events with the Islamic Center of Golden, just ten miles down the road. Most of our work is local and at a grassroots level.
But since our vision is to ignite a global peacemaking movement, we also work with high-level Muslim leaders, like Martin did, partner with international organizations, and have even begun to engage diplomats.
We have cultivated a strong partership with the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD). Douglas Johnston, the founder and President, is often referred to as the “Father of Faith and Diplomacy.” He has spent decades working in D.C., helping the State Department understand that religion is an important part of foreign policy.
We parter with ICRD to work for religious freedom in Pakistan and to speak against Islamophobia in the U.S. For example, through ICRD we have a relationship with Imam Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, a Pakistani peacemaker who leads a network of Imams numbering over 27,000. That is a high-level Muslim leader!
More recently I met Rabbi David Saperstein, the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and Shaun Casey, Special Representative to the Secretary of State for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In both meetings we discussed how PCI can partner with the State Department to work for peace and religious freedom.
Our goal in these initiatives is to engage with high-level Muslims in what is known as Track II Diplomacy. Track I diplomacy refers to official, formal discussions by high-level political and military leaders, whereas Track II refers to non-governmental, informal, and unofficial dialogue and problem-solving activities between private citizens. Track II diplomacy, especially between Christian and Muslim religious leaders, has huge potential to counter violent extremism.
God is opening doors for us and giving us increasing influence for the sake of peace. As we finish up 2014, would you consider giving a year-end gift to our Waging Peace Fund? We need your help to expand our efforts at Track II Diplomacy. Thank you for your interest and support.