Living Differently

Whether it’s immersive encounters at home or trips overseas, we are passionate about amplifying voices of those who have been silenced or otherwise marginalized.

One of the ways to use your voice is to leverage your influence as you amplify the voices of artisans around the world through retail.

At Amplify Peace, we believe this so deeply that we are partnering with artisans around the world through the Amplify Marketplace.

Fair trade is a justice issue. In a world where many “fast fashion” items are made by those who have been victimized by human trafficking and child labor, the Amplify Marketplace creates a space where you can purchase items that are created by artisans who are paid a fair wage to support their families in places where jobs are scarce.

When you purchase an item from Amplify Marketplace you are:
*Helping create jobs around the world
*Enabling a parent to provide food and an education for their child
*Providing a hand up instead of a hand out

Each item available in the Amplify Marketplace tells a story.

The Amplify Marketplace is run by volunteers so that all proceeds are able to go back into employing more artisans as we purchase products from them at a fair price.

One of the first artisan groups we partner with is Papillon Marketplace, based in Port Au Prince, Haiti.  The mission of the Papillon Marketplace is “orphan prevention through job creation” and each purchase made through them employs parents so that they can provide for their families. In Haiti, mothers who can’t afford to feed their children often often make mud “cookies” from local dirt  to stave off hunger pains.

In a beautiful story of redemption, the artisans of Papillon work with dirt as well, but they are able to use this dirt to make clay that is then formed into clay beads.  These clay beads are individually rolled and eventually become items such as our peace bracelet, which has been worn by women all over the world as they are working to wage peace at home and abroad.

Visit Papillon and find out more about what they are doing, and then… commit to making a change in the way you shop, and you’ll change the world, one purchase at a time.

Peace Begins With Me!

On our local and global immersive encounters, we will find ourselves quite often sitting in sacred spaces listening to peacemakers who know or have known the heart ache of oppression and injustice. We listen and learn and are transformed by their stories. But, we also learn from each other as trip participants in the sacred spaces of sharing our own thoughts, stories, and disruptions. Dr Charity Byers recently was a part of a pilgrimage with Amplify Peace and her insights not only on the trip but since has been invaluable. We want to share a little of her thoughts here.

From Dr. Byers:

Through my experience on a recent Israel/Palestine trip with Amplify Peace, I was challenged to engage in messiness rather than retreat. To become a peacemaker, I learned that you have to be willing to step into the messiness of misunderstandings, longstanding hurts, and conflicts that seem unfixable. I was reminded that we have to lean into hope that may supersede what our own life experience says is possible to be true peacemakers.

I was also reminded that as you try to face conflict in the world, you will face conflict within. You really have to make peace within before you can bring peace to others. There are more barriers within that we often realized keeping us from the posture of peace. Maybe it’s anxiety that makes approaching conflict feel intolerable. Maybe it’s the impact of trauma that says forgiveness is unsafe. Or maybe it’s personal rejection that keeps a bitter lens from softening into compassion.

What begins as a small change within—a new perspective, a softer heart, a willingness to listen, or getting over a fear of the unknown—ripples out into the life that is lived. More compassion for others leads to bridges in relationships. Desire to understand more than being understood leads to rewriting the narrative of the other. Willingness to put down defenses leads to unity. All of that truly has the power to build into global impact.

I was encouraged by my experience to keep fighting for the posture of peace within me and in the hearts of those around me so that we can let peace be amplified from within us to the world.

Dr. Charity Byers serves as Executive Director of Clinical Services for Blessing Ranch. Learn more about Blessing Ranch here: https://www.blessingranch.org/index.cfm

The Concept of True Reconciliation

“In the end, reconciliation is a spiritual process, which requires more than just a legal framework. It has to happen in the hearts and minds of people.” Nelson Mandela

I recently returned from a vision trip to Cape Town, South Africa, where I went to lean in, listen and learn about the apartheid narrative in relationship to peace-making and unity-building. It was a disruptive and also beautiful trip all at the same time. Cape Town is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking ocean and coastal scenery in the world and is unique in that it is the place where two oceans meet – the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Its lush landscape reminds you of what paradise could look like. But, below the surface of all this splendor lies a disrupted narrative that isolates, divides and controls people.

Here are a few simple facts about the story of South Africa in recent decades:

Apartheid (Afrikaans: “apartness”) was a policy that governed relations between South Africa’s white minority and non-white majority, which sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-whites. The practice of apartheid was extended under the government, led by the National Party from 1948-1994.

In 1993, a new constitution – one that enfranchised blacks and other racial groups – was adopted. In 1994, an all-race national election was held and resulted in a black majority government, led by prominent anti-apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela. Nelson’s compelling vision was to seek and offer forgiveness, rather than seeking revenge for the wrongs suffered. This should have marked the end of legislated apartheid. What I discovered – and what I found disturbing – was that the spirit of apartheid is still very much alive and well with economic and social effects today. How can this be? Is history destined to repeat itself?

I have come home more curious and with a personal syllabus of books, articles, documentaries and videos to continue my learning. I want to gain a better understanding of what really happened that led up to apartheid and what ensued during those years. Perhaps more importantly, why hasn’t apartheid been totally eradicated today?

One of the most profound things we did during our stay in Cape Town was sitting around tables with different people, hearing different narratives, processing out loud, and even allowing differences of opinions to be shared respectfully. Many questions and perspectives were thrown out and interestingly enough, answers and solutions were not always expected. Just the relishing of the opportunity to dialogue and discuss with old and new friends was sufficient at times. I learned a lot during those times around a shared meal or cup of coffee.

I found myself processing one thought that continually came to mind – and even still – is the concept of true reconciliation. What does it mean to be reconciled and to live undivided and in harmony? Did the dismantling of apartheid create reconciliation and a more united nation, or was the result just more division? As I have already stated, digging deeper you will find a common belief that apartheid is still very much alive today and South Africa is just as divided as in the past.

So, I ask us all a few questions. There doesn’t always have to be an answer. Maybe the best place to start our learning is with questions.

  • Can true reconciliation happen with only forgiveness?
  • Is it enough to forgive without the willingness to make reparations and own what was done?
  • What role does repentance play in reparation?
  • How transforming is it to give others their “rights” without giving them “opportunities” to live them out?
  • And on a personal note, where am I creating divisions and boundaries that hinder others who are different from me from flourishing?

What do you think? Will you give yourself permission to ask these questions of yourself and of others? Will you invite others around the table for dialogue and understanding? You never know what amazing insights might be gained and the transformation that could happen in your own life! When we seek reconciliation with a heart entwined with the heart of God, true reconciliation can give birth. How much better would it be to seek to be reconciled and help others be reconciled to the heart of God!

We Are One Woman

In one of my college classes, the students got into a big debate about women’s rights. The main debaters were a male student from India (that’s right, a guy fighting for the rights of women) and an American female. The guy argued that women in the USA have many more freedoms and opportunities compared to women in India or any other developing country. In contrast, the girl argued that it’s not about freedom and that women in the USA still have a lot to work on.

I’m telling you, it took the professor and the advisor of the class to interfere so the battle would end and we could move on with the class.

I wanted to shout out “WE ARE ONE WOMAN!”

“We are One Woman,

You cry and I hear you.

We are One Woman,

You hurt, and I hurt, too.

We are One Woman,

Your hopes are mine.

We shall shine.

I’m one of the “developing countries’ women” the guy mentioned. I’m from Egypt. However, I have to admit, I totally agree with the American female. Not because both of us share the same biology but because I have experienced and witnessed the lack of freedom and opportunities myself.

During the debate that day, I heard a person sniffling behind me. For safety reasons as a woman, I am cautiously aware of my surroundings. I glanced back to look. I saw a woman lifting her sunglasses up to wipe her eyes carefully. Her face was pointed down to the ground so no one could see the big purple bruise around her left eye.

A sense immediately flowed over me as I recalled how I was beaten by my partner in my first relationship. I remember, I cried that day as hard as this lady was, not because of my body and bruises but because of my wounded pride. I saw in this woman the truth, Egyptian or American, it doesn’t matter… We are one woman.

According to the World Health Organization one in three women throughout the world have experiences either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

“One Woman” is a song launched on International Women’s Day in 2013 by the UN Women. You can listen to it in either Arabic or English.

Listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dnq2QeCvwpw

Learn how you can make a difference for the rights of women and support UN Women by visiting http://www.unwomen.org

Our Call to Action

What is fair trade? What is ethical shopping? What do these practices have to do with justice issues?

According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.”

Buying from companies that engage in fair trade practices is one form of ethical shopping.  That’s easy when a company is fair trade certified by an organization like WFTO.  However, it’s important to research a company’s business practices when looking for ethical shopping options.  Some companies may operate under fair trade standards, but may lack formal fair trade certification, possibly due to company size or certification cost.  Shopping secondhand is also considered ethical because it does not create new demand for a product and it keeps unused items out of landfills.

Luke 4 says that, after Jesus’ temptation in the desert, He went home to Nazareth in Galilee. While in the synagogue there, he picked up a scroll and read Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2, NIV)

In America’s antebellum history, slaves worked in plantation fields and performed domestic duties in their masters’ homes.  Modern slavery looks a bit different.  According to the International Labor Organization, modern slavery can be described as “…situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.” This can manifest itself in situations such as (but not limited to) forced labor, debt bondage, and forced marriage.

The International Justice Mission (IJM) estimates that, even though slavery is illegal in every country, there are currently 40 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other point in human history. The Global Slavery Index estimated that, in 2018, G20 countries annually imported $127.7 billion worth of garments potentially produced by slaves. These facts are our call to action.

Some of Jesus’ first words after his baptism and time in the desert were to announce in the synagogue that He came to proclaim freedom for the captives. Slavery – a life of captivity – still exists for millions today.  What does that mean to those of us who have given our lives to Him and who deeply desire to live a life like His? One thing we can do is to carefully consider what we buy, how we buy, and how often we buy.

For instance, we could purchase five $5 t-shirts from a mass retailer that likely used slaves in the manufacturing process, or we could choose to purchase one $32 t-shirt from an ethical retailer like Elegantees, (www.elegantees.com).  This company employs women rescued from sex trafficking, freed from modern slavery.  Its seamstresses come from a local safe house in Nepal. These seamstresses are not only paid more than two times the local minimum wage, but they also work regular hours in a safe environment.

The process of changing your shopping habits will look different for everyone and every budget. My ethical fashion inspiration is Molly Stillman from the blog Still Being Molly.  Recently, she discussed her own switch, a process that has taken about eight years. I haven’t fully transitioned to purchasing only fair and ethical items, but I am improving every day. I am also realistic, especially when it comes to my kids. I try to buy secondhand, but I also shop at The Children’s Place or Target. Realistically, there aren’t a lot of fair trade options for kids’ clothing, and those options may not fit comfortably within our family budget, especially considering how fast kids grow.

Recognizing that it isn’t always practical to buy new items from fair and ethical companies, I find myself following the old adage, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I sew patches on ripped jeans instead of buying new. I question needs versus wants (and answer myself honestly) before making a purchase.  When my kids outgrow clothes, I check the thrift store before buying new.

This isn’t meant to shame anyone into changing habits.  This is meant to educate and encourage.  We can’t do better unless we know better.  Start somewhere, give yourself grace, and remember it’s a marathon. We have the power to impact the world through our purchases, and I pray we use it wisely.

Take your first step in ethical shopping and visit Amplify Peace’s new marketplace at Amplify Marketplace. You can make a difference today by supporting fair traded products and artisans. This is our call to action.

Are You Ignoring Injustice?

Over 20 Native American tribes living on reservations make up over a quarter of our state in Arizona. On the San Carlos reservation, just around the corner from us in Globe, half of the people living there battle alcoholism. The teen suicide rate is 7 times higher than the national average.

Out of the more than 22 million refugees in the world, less than one percent are considered for resettlement worldwide. The IRC projects that by the time 2018 is over, only 15,000 refugees will have made it into the U.S. In our own state of Arizona, we are on track to take in the lowest number of refugees in almost 40 years.

These are just a few of the many narratives that are a reality for us right in our own neighborhoods.

I just got back from a peacemaking trip with Central to Israel/Palestine and Jesus has opened my eyes. What I experienced will forever change the way I see people and the significance of their stories. We all have our own narratives. We all have our own stories. What may be true about how my life has played out may not be true about you. Every single person has their own narrative that shapes human existence and the world around us. I implore you to educate yourself about the conflict happening between the Israeli and Palestinian people.

On this peacemaking trip, I got to hear many narratives. I was able to lean in and listen to the stories of people built upon centuries of brokenness. What I saw was heartbreaking, but also beauty from ashes. Little smirks coming from children who live in refugee camps, prayers lifted to heaven for peace, and a glimpse of hope between parents who have lost their children to the conflict on the opposite side. I saw a woman working in a coffee shop raising awareness about the refugee crisis in her country, mothers and fathers who have dreams for their children to prosper, farmers who are relentless in growing their crops despite opposition, and a woman who is boldly running her own organization to provide Bibles to people in countries where it’s illegal.

When we asked if peace was possible, many shrugged or sighed. A few pondered if it would happen in their lifetime. Some threw up their hands. And many seemed to have lost hope. How could you not when your narrative is war and violence for so long? Since returning from my trip, Jesus opened my eyes and reminded me that peace is coming.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.” Revelation 21:4 (MSG)

Jesus will indeed make everything right, and in this I find hope. There is hope for the complexities of human existence. But what does this mean for me now? How can I work to attain peace in my lifetime?! I think it often looks like not turning a blind eye to the injustices happening in your own backyard.

I will no longer choose to be naïve. I will no longer choose to look away from what’s happening in our world just because turning it off feels better than being held accountable for taking action. I will no longer choose ignorance. I will seek out relationships with people who are not like me. I will listen to stories. I will ask questions about their narratives and find compassion for all people.

What is it in your own life that you are turning a blind eye to? Maybe it’s a neighbor. Perhaps it’s a family member or close friend who needs you. Maybe it’s an enemy, or injustices happening right at your doorstep. Take some time today to quiet your soul. Reflect on Ephesians 1:17-19. Ask Jesus to enlighten you. Ask him to share with you what you’ve been naïve to for so long and sit in that tension. Let it be uncomfortable because this is where transformation of the soul begins.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:17-19

Peacemaking Is…

Peace is beautiful. Peacemaking is brutal.

Everyone wants peace but not everyone is willing to engage or sacrifice to do the difficult work of peacemaking. Peace sounds beautiful, wonderful and so . . . Peaceful!

Peace is attractive however, the work of peacemaking is not. Peacemaking requires us to step out of comfort zones, readjust our thinking and perceptions and embrace others who are not like us. It is hard work and not everyone will applaud or join you. You see this in churches, our families, communities, country and the world. It is hard to live for the other and to live the teachings of Jesus: to love your neighbor, forgive, pray for your enemy.

A few years ago I had a defining moment in my journey of living as a peacemaker. Up until that point, I was enthusiastically claiming my desire as a peacemaker, though a little naively. I had invited a few women from the states to travel with me to Israel/Palestine to meet together with a few Israeli and Palestinian women. This would be epic! We were going to spend about 10 days together listening and learning from each other, developing friendships and engaging with “the other”.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, tensions began to mount in the area and violence was erupting. We monitored the climate of the situation and were in touch with leaders on the ground. Finally, about a week or so before we were to leave, my friend, Sami, told me that the Israeli and Palestinian women would not be participating as it was too risky. He said, no one was traveling over to that area because of the disruption and circumstances and if we wanted to cancel, he would totally understand as it would not be the trip we had dreamed or planned.

I had to make a decision. Do I do the safe thing and postpone and reschedule or do I dare go anyway and show up in the tension? In a moment of conversation with God, a pivotal insight was revealed.

I had been saying I wanted to live as a peacemaker and encourage others to join, but I had never actually been put to the test. Was living as a peacemaker only for when times are peaceful? I realized peacemakers are not needed when times are peaceful but when times are tough, risky, filled with tension and conflict. Peacemaking isn’t peaceful. When conflict arises, peacemaking is needed and that is where peacemakers should to be.

My decision? I would go! I wrote to the other women and explained the situation and gave them a choice to go or stay with no guilt attached. I was not surprised when they all said they would be going too! And so we went. We showed up. And the fact that we showed up spoke more than our words could ever do. I can tell you that it was one of the most significant times I have had and I reflect back on that trip so often. It shaped much of what I am doing today. I can’t imagine if I would have said no. Sometimes it is just showing up in difficult places at difficult times to live what you believe.

-Lisa

How Listening Could Change Everything

Peace making and LISTENING.

If there was ever a time for peace it’s now. We need it. Badly. And I don’t mean the kind of peace that keeps quiet. That’s a kind of keeping the peace that disguises itself as nice and kind but is instead a deeply passive insistence on the status quo. People who ‘keep the peace’ have the luxury of willful blindness and are most likely those who have something to lose if true peace (justice/fairness/equality/rightness) was ever actually made.  What we really need right now in our desperate world is true peace making. The kind Jesus suggested would usher in the Kingdom of God. Peace making – like trouble making but turned upside down.

Peace making – people with voices who speak up for the underdog and go out of their way to get in the way of injustice, exposing the deep and dark places of racism, hatred, abuse, and oppression in the desperate belief that exposure is the first stop on the train to healing. Peace making is an active presence of goodness in the world. It’s a decision to get our heads out of the sand and live into the reality of our current global context. There is so much peace to be made. But where to begin?

Recently, (AmplifyPeace.com) led a group of incredible women on a peacemaking pilgrimage to the holy land. It was a trip intended to veer far from the average one – going out of our way to get in the way of folks who were suffering and thriving in the midst of deep and horrible oppression. We wanted to get immersed in the realities of making peace, so we sought out people who were trying to do just that. People stuck in the midst of the long trauma of conflict but who were seeking to live a different way. People who looked and sounded a lot like Jesus.

We had a pretty simple framework that I think might be helpful to anyone who is wondering how to become a peacemaker in your own world. Listen – Learn – Live.

The first way of making peace in the world is listening. 

Listen. This is much harder than it first sounds. Listening is an incredibly valuable way of beginning your peace making journey. Listening is an act of solidarity with the person you are trying to hear. And this is where we get a bit specific. Whose voice have you not heard? And how can you begin to make some peace by choosing to listen to the voices of those whom you don’t know? There is a beautiful saying, ‘an enemy is someone whose story you have not yet heard’. At the heart of every human being is a sacred beginning. And to find that human heart can take some uncovering of our own prejudice and distorted perspective and the only way to get to that divine connection of a shared humanity is to LISTEN to each other. Many of the people we think we ‘know about’ we have not met. This is because the world is designed to keep us apart. To separate us. And this separation increases fear and the fear keeps us in conflict. And peace is lost. So, peacemaking begins by choosing to move in the opposite direction of oppression and injustice. Connection. Those of us with the power to choose where we go and what we do and who we talk to can make the deliberate decision to LISTEN to those we have not yet heard.

In Israel that took us to sit around tables and intentionally listen to Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, women, men, boys, girls, teachers, mothers, soldiers, rabbis, priests – well, you get the idea. To connect with many of those people required us to go to places ‘off the tourist map’ and to place ourselves in some discomfort. It required us to confront our own fears and prejudice and pre-conceived notions. But that is what listening demands of us. Choice. We get to choose who we listen to. But make no mistake, just because listening is simple doesn’t make it easy. Active listening requires deep intention.

So, what might that journey look like for you? 

Identify whose voice you have not heard. It may be a new immigrant family from another culture, a person from another faith, someone socially excluded or left out of the narrative of our dominate cultural norms. Then seek them out. This is where it gets a little hard and when we realize that the kind of listening peace making requires of us will be a bit costly. You may need to volunteer somewhere or make a trip or a phone call to someone who might be able to help you connect with someone you wouldn’t naturally connect with. It will feel awkward and that’s ok. You will feel like a beginner and that will be a great blessing. You will be the one asking for help – and that will be a great chance to live in the upside down kingdom of God. No wonder God called peace makers blessed!

The posture required to do peace-making through listening is the posture of need, dependency and relationship. It’s in direct opposition to the  posture of empire, strength and force. If you’d like some suggestions on how to lead a group towards peace making in your local community please check out amplify peace and get some info on our ‘storytelling nights’ or ‘open tables’ or ‘day immersions’ which are designed to help you get started on the the listening part of peace making in your own community.

Restoring Dignity

Peace, peacemaking, peacemaker? These were the words I was hearing over and over again, but these are the words that usually surround other individuals, not me, right? The world is torn and it feels overwhelming to the core but as I hear these words being spoken by women I know and respect, I know I have to lean in. As I lean in, my worldview is shaken, my actions, thoughts, even how I see the gospel, shaken. The more I learn about these words of peace, peacemaking, peacemaker, I learn it is not as big as I once thought, it is not as intangible as I first knew. I learn to listen, which would end up being a bigger action then I could have imagined. I listen to these words be explained in a way I had not heard before. One of those thoughts, “peacemaking is about restoring dignity and humanity to those who have lost it.” I can’t stop thinking about this thought, restore dignity and humanity to those who have lost it, but how? I can’t change the world. Here is the thing about that last thought, I’m not being asked to change the world, instead I’m being asked to engage in my part of the world, it starts where I am at, not where it will end up. This very idea gave me new eyes for the life I was living. I had worked in the same field for almost 10 years, healthcare. Healthcare, much like the world, can feel torn and overwhelming. It can just feel as though you are not going to change the system. Once again, I am not being asked to change everything, I am being asked to engage, to restore in my part of the world, life, and work. For the last 10 years of working in healthcare it has been specifically in the neuro field. Working with patients who have had a traumatic event that has changed their life. Anywhere from Traumatic Brain Injuries, Strokes, MS, Parkinson’s, etc. Once the patient has been diagnosed, as of now, their diagnosis is lifelong. This is the reality of these diagnosis. At times, they are starting a new life, different than once before. Usually months if not years of rehabilitation/therapy will follow, this is where I was. I was an administrator and I found that my favorite part of my job was advocating for the patients through their insurance. The insurance side of their rehabilitation always hurts the most, because we rely on someone to read about a person and make a decision whether or not they “deserve” to have more therapy or for their therapy to be covered. I have seen devastating no’s for so long. These no’s impact the lives of these individuals more than the insurances will ever know or see. These individuals were being reduced down to typed reports with some test scores and facts. That was it, a quick read with a decision that would follow, “it is our determination that you have made the most gains and therefore no more therapy is needed,” “you have exceeded your limits and therefore we will not cover the services provided.” So this was my part of the world. Now that I knew I was being asked to engage, what did that look like in a system that is much larger than me? Again those words come back to me “peacemaking is about restoring dignity and humanity to those who have lost it.” At that moment, I lean in, how do I restore? When I turn back to the gospel I see Jesus, giving the “other” a new narrative, a voice, I see how He was the greatest example of engaging. Once again, restore. After a stirring for what felt like an eternity; a what if came to thought. What if we video the patients and give them a voice for their recovery; what if we send this video along with all the reports and doctor notes to the insurance; what if we turn those reports into a person by giving the patient a voice, a story, their story? This what if turned into a reality, video appeals. Now, we have a way to provide a person, a story to these insurance companies, when they are ready to just say no, they have one more layer, a real person that lives at the other end of those reports whose lives are forever changed, ready to tell their story, their recovery, and their life now and to not be another statistic but a person. It is in this there is a new hope for these patients, it may not give them a yes every time, but it is one more layer to fighting for these patients. Even though I didn’t change all of healthcare, all of insurance companies’ policies, I was able to engage where I was at and make a dent in my part of the world. Without being asked to lean in, engage, restore, and be active where I am, none of this would have even been a thought. The world feels overwhelming, torn, and too much to handle, but we all have our part, at least that is what I have come to know through peacemaking. My part looks different than yours but we all have a part. It starts with a simple thought, what am I being asked to engage in, restore, and act on in my part of the world?

The Now and the Not Yet!

My world view and theology were disrupted with two simple invitations from friends. The first invitation was to attend a Telos Conference and the other invitation was to go experience the “holy land” differently. My husband, Cal and I were asked to go to Israel/Palestine, not as typical tourists, but as listeners and learners of narratives from both sides of the wall. Neither one of us had any idea at the time what life transforming experiences these would prove to be for us. Both would literally change the trajectories of our lives and life purposes in profound ways.

Now that I have seen I am responsible, was a quote I ran across in my pre-trip preparation for my first peacemaking pilgrimage and it was also a quote I saw spray painted on the wall in the West Bank. With this simple sighting God got my attention in a very personal way. This began my journey of immersing more deeply into the ways of peacemaking amidst the backdrop of this particular conflict. This immersive encounter became a huge catalyst for transformation in my life. And so my global journey was launched.

I must confess, it took me a couple of years and many more trips to Israel/Palestine before I began to realize what that “responsibility” could look like. I did a lot of soul searching, praying and showing up. I knew I was passionate about leading women and I was wired to create. Two particular trips and two particular conversations led me to create Amplify Peace.

On one trip I found myself standing in a classroom of high school students, listening to their stories, their hopes and dreams while peering out of a broken window pane with the plaster surrounding it still revealing bullet holes from a recent attack on the school. As we listened and asked questions, one thought emerged as they shared what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their answers were all professions of expression, i.e. photographer, journalist, artist, musician, even the President. I realized in that moment that they wanted their lives to speak and they wanted to be heard. Isn’t this what we all want?

On another trip, while sitting in a room in Bethlehem with my friend, Sami Awad, Founder and Executive Director of Holy Land Trust, a conversation evolved that led me towards my new “responsibility”. Sami made a couple of statements that caused me to rethink some of my ideas of how I could respond as a peacemaker. He basically and quite frankly told our small group of women, that we can’t come over here and fix it. They don’t need us to do that. There is a lot we could do at home and the best way we can help is to focus on some of our own issues. I left that trip with a new perspective of what my “responsibility” could and should look like.

I turned my focus to “home” and to creating spaces that would allow change to happen within hearts. From my global encounters my eyes were opened to the changing power of story and the healing potential of peacemaking. I realized I sat in a place of privilege with a platform and the freedom to use my voice. How could I intentionally use these to amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized and silenced? Pain, courage, trauma, brokenness and a longing for hope uniquely shape every story. Every story deserves to be carried, to be told and to be amplified for the sake of peace.

Amplify Peace has become a movement of women peacemakers leveraging their voices to create change in the world. It is a launching point for local and global encounters, a platform for amplifying the stories of women and a sisterhood committed to creating and telling a better story together. Women are a force, they are determined and they are an untapped resource. It is important to give women a place and permission to step into those places that will allow them to identify and live their purpose.

I recently reread the parable of the various soils found in Luke 8 with new ears. What jumped out at me was two words, “good soil” followed by the sentence, “It (the seed that fell on it) came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” Good soil, full of potential and transformation to those who choose to see, hear and live differently like Jesus. Those who choose the path to love, forgive and be reconciled to the other are like the good soil. God’s intent is for us to live for the now and help usher in the “not yet”, together. He promises a return, even 100 times!

I have been asked numerous times if peace is really possible and if I have hope for a better future? I have to believe peace is possible, and because of Jesus, there is always hope. To live without hope is not an option. We need courageous storytellers and peacemakers. Hope and peace are gifts we can give now to impact future generations. The world is looking for a better story.