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.