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The mission worker must constantly be an anthropologist, studying the cultural shifts in the conflict. I was surprised to learn, for instance, that even in the worst days of the Intifada, a strong percentage of Palestinians stated they were willing to be citizens of Israel if they could then have a normal life. To be a student of the cultural context and the contributing factors of a conflict is also critical if we are to bring meaningful, relevant ministry—a process known as contextualization.

Luke and Dot Beidler had to work through the complexity of living and serving in the Vietnam War in order to bring effective ministry. Luke states: I think our expectations were typical missionary—that we were going to be part of the mission of God in some way. The difficulty of our assignment became much more apparent as we began learning the language.

The missionary work was more complicated than just taking what we knew of the Lord and his word and sharing it. Cross- culturally we had to do the homework. Where had Vietnamese culture come from? The war was even more difficult. As Americans, we were entering an old culture, a much more refined culture than the American dream.

The American presence militarily complicated everything for us as American missionaries. The Vietnamese people were being divided. Their culture was being attacked by the United States. Teaching students who had different loyalties had the effect of showing us that both sides had to be served. The relationships we established—sometimes with both sides— were very stretching. To stay with it and hear both sides is what we had to do. We were often tested and baffled by how to share the biblical message, to share the gospel in a different culture in a time of war.

We read the Bible through new eyes because we sensed the cultural situation was very different. Our interpretations of many things changed. Rather than preaching a lot— although the mission team did end up establishing a Mennonite church— we sought to bring a witness through presence, through our service by teaching English. We struggled with that. Was it right? Was it faithfully representing the gospel?

Each of us missionaries struggled with this question. We struggled with how to approach the Vietnamese culture and the history we were living through. So, we felt it was important to demonstrate the love of Jesus through service. The Complexity of Mission in Contexts of Conflict 41 In order to respond meaningfully to their context, the Beidlers met a need and desire of the Vietnamese people to learn the English language.

Barbara Rowe makes the important point that the activities of their mission during the Salvadoran Civil War were decided by the Salvadoran Christians: During the war, there was a lot of crisis management. The ministry was accompanying the local church. So, we let them determine what the ministry should be, because it was their context.

They were the ones to suffer the consequences. For my wife and myself serving with the Palestinian Bible Society, our task was to establish a coffee house that would reach out to students of Bir Zeit University. As the Intifada raged, the question we faced was, What would possibly make the gospel meaningful in a context of hatred and violence, where religion had become hijacked by ethnic and political loyalties?

We felt that the student center could bring a meaningful witness of Christ if we were willing to empty ourselves of superfluous religiosity—including our predilection toward overt evangelism. Our spiritual journey led us to become convicted of the need to reaffirm the basic humanity of all who came into Living Stones Student Center in Bir Zeit.

With this emphasis, Muslim students, who comprised ninety percent of the university student population, felt especially comfortable. The local Christians had difficulty understanding the lack of overt Christian symbolism and the presence of so many Muslims. Trying to forge a neutral ground in a conflict is a challenge. It can be easily misunderstood or resented as minimizing the concerns of one community or the other. The long-term fruit, though, is worth the effort.

Last night in Living Stones, the Christian students cooked a sumptuous meal for the Muslim students to break their daily Ramadan fast. Conflict and the Missionary Experience: Developing a Theology of the Mission of God A mission worker will be severely limited if she or he approaches mission service in a conflict zone without developing a robust theology of the nature of Christian mission, of contextualization, and of culture.

Christian mission is the participation of the church in the mission of God; understanding the mission of God, therefore, is fundamental to all mission activity, especially for those serving in contexts of conflict. As I often comment to university students, the goal of the mission of God is to fix everything that is broken in the world: our inner spiritual lives, communities, national societies, the natural environment, etcetera.

It is fortunate that the mission of God is so wide and deep and high, affecting every sphere of life, because everything needs fixing. As Bob Dylan sang, everything is broken, from bottles to dishes, to words.

Mission agencies may focus on specific areas of brokenness and need such as the International Justice Mission, which addresses social injustices and related legal issues; 25 Mennonite Central Committee, which concentrates on relief and development; or Youth with a Mission, which is more evangelistic in its focus. Such fullness, in turn, necessitates the inclusion in mission of a wide range of personal gifts, callings, and mission organizations across denominations.

The Complexity of Mission in Contexts of Conflict 43 social justice are mutually exclusive pursuits. In response, it is important to emphasize that pitting evangelism against social action—contending which has priority—is an erroneous dichotomy.

The verbal message of Jesus was intertwined organically with his acts of mercy. Whether Jesus emphasized one or the other, or both in particular contexts, he ministered life Mt —21, Jn 4! In a context of violence, there may indeed be an even greater urgency for evangelism while not neglecting social action, in view of the drastic needs of people in contexts of violence where access to education, medical care, transportation, and so on may be blocked.

Conflict and the Missionary Experience: Developing a Theology of Contextualization Just as developing a theology of the mission of God is vital, so is cultivating a theology of contextualization—the process of making the message and ministry of Jesus culturally relevant in a particular context. Aspects of contextualization continue to engender extensive missiological research. A critical question in doing contextualization is where the first decisions should be made.

Should they begin outside of the mission context or from within it? What should be the primary sources for developing meaningful contextual mission? Should contextualization begin with the study of biblical scripture, or should it take its cues from the culture of the conflict?

The missiologist Stephen B. Bevans in his important Models of Contextual Theology articulates five paradigms in developing contextual mission. This is a tall order that demands a high tolerance for holding different ideas in tension. One cannot give authority to a local culture as a source of information in contextualization if one has an intractable opposition to a given culture, considering it to be only sinful.

Similarly, if we deem a culture to be perfectly in harmony with the kingdom of God—that God is just like us—this will be problematic. The classic discussion of this topic is H. Without some basic agreement concerning a theology of culture, significant divisions may occur between sending churches, mission agencies, and mission workers.

Similarly, it is important to understand the ethics of a particular culture. Although certain values may be shared with other cultures, how those values are expressed may be very different in each culture. In a situation of conflict, this difference in how values are enfleshed, so to speak, may cause tremendous confusion.

The peace that we envision may look very different from what the participants may have in mind in a conflict in a cultural setting other than the United States. And reconciliation also may be expressed entirely differently. Bernard T. Adeney in Strange Virtues: Ethics in a Multicultural World says: Christians believe that what is good is determined by the will of God, not by culture. The goal of ethics is not cultural conformity but transformation into the likeness of Christ.

All Christians in every culture are invited to have the mind of Christ, to humble themselves and be servants to others Phil 2. But how virtues are expressed and how they are prioritized may be very different in different cultures. Luke S. Martin, a Mennonite missionary in Vietnam contemporaneous to the Beidlers, subsequently wrote the invaluable book A Vietnam Presence: Mennonites in Vietnam during the American War, in which he describes his experience of learning cultural ethics from the Vietnamese: While we missionaries sensed our calling to guide the believers in the way of Jesus, we were also learning from them.

In a letter home, I told how Tranh had been summoned home to Nha Trang because his eleven- year-old daughter was at the point of death. Some relative had given her medicine, which caused severe hemorrhaging. She fortunately recovered. When we asked Tranh what medicine had been given, he said he did not ask because he did not want to make the woman feel badly. Such forgiveness! The deed was done and could not be undone, so why probe and further hurt the relative who was already feeling badly about it.

The Beidlers said the studies proved most helpful when they returned for five more years of service as full missionaries. Another vitally important aspect of developing a relevant and meaningful mission in a conflict zone is to have an historical perspective not only of the conflict but also of the history of Christian mission. Centuries ago, Christians encountered the same difficulties in mission as today and developed unique contextual responses—the fourth-century Desert Fathers in their Egyptian desert hermitages, the vital missions of Celtic Christianity from the fifth century onward, the contextualization of Francis Xavier in China in the sixteenth century, Ludwig von Zinzendorf and the Moravians in the eighteenth century, the first aggressive Protestant mission, the Quaker John Woolman and his efforts to abolish slavery in the nineteenth century, and the living veteran missionaries today, who carry decades of experience and insight collectively in their memories.

Such would include the militarized mission of the western and eastern Crusades in the 11th through 15th centuries, and missions that became entangled with colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Rosa had been raised as a missionary child in China. After all our study, all our preparation, all our efforts to be contextually sensitive, we finally, though, must stand on our convictions of truth forged in the fires of personal spiritual journey fueled by the Word of God, the Christian community, the mysterious revelation brought by the Spirit of God, and experiences of human life.

Luke Beidler declares: Some students who wanted Vietnam to be unified had sympathies for the liberation of the south. Some were supportive of the South Vietnamese government. Everybody was trying to figure everybody out. We were not in favor of the war effort.

We believed that Vietnamese overall wanted peace more than anything else. We spoke the truth as we saw it. If we were going to be shot, we wanted to be shot for the right reason. Luke and Dot Beidler describe their concept of success as not being measured by numbers of Vietnamese converted to Christ—though they rejoiced when this occurred—but in the quality of the relationships they developed.

Luke says: We were all tempted to think our efforts were too small. But we were more concerned about doing what was right than if it was successful. We measured our success by our relationships with Vietnamese, with those we were doing Bible study with. Not necessarily with the numbers of persons who became Christians. But more whether they were able to feel and hear the good news in our times together, singing peace songs and sometimes gospel songs.

We rejoiced when there was in-gathering, when there was a change of attitudes on the part of our students. Occasionally someone said because of what you said we will become Christians. We could count the people who made authentic choices to become Jesus followers to about ten in nine years. But hopefully lots of people became closer to the possibility of believing the good news about Jesus. Jesus was a hero to many people who were Buddhists or traditional Vietnamese.

The person of Jesus was always attractive because of the life he lived and the truth of the gospel. The Complexity of Mission in Contexts of Conflict 47 Similarly, on the West Bank we could not count the number of converts as significant, but during the years of the Intifada hundreds of students took copies of the New Testament, desiring to know more about the teachings of Jesus.

Also, Living Stones Student Center became a resource for all sectors of the society. We launched summer camps for youth in remote villages, developed arts programs for the local schools, conducted conferences that brought together government leaders to discuss religion and peace efforts, and more. Hatred and violence raged on. Ultimately, mission in contexts of violence has a prophetic quality.

Christian mission declares by faith that evil will not reign, that violence will bow its knee before the Prince of Peace. Such mission takes its stand by faith. The missionary is therefore by necessity a prophet in conflict. The suffering of the people they leave behind may be the heaviest load they carry. As Dot Beidler states: We came home in ; and spent a year very broken emotionally.

Leaving our Vietnamese friends behind was very difficult, even though they urged us to leave. Four Mennonite personnel stayed after the fall of Saigon, leaving only after they were asked to do so by the new government. For some, a final departure never occurs. My wife and I have remained deeply involved with ministry on the West Bank and in Manila, the Philippines, traveling to both several times a year.

Barbara Rowe returned to El Salvador in , where she continues her service to the Salvadoran people. Friends of the Beidlers who were also missionaries during the Vietnam War have recently returned to Vietnam for three years to work on a specific project with the Mennonite Central Committee.

As I advise university students, deep cross-cultural service is like Alice stepping through the looking glass: the cross-cultural worker in a conflict area will never return as they once were, never see the world with the same naive eyes as they did before. It is the certainty of that call that enables the believer to stand and persevere in even the most difficult of circumstances.

Trust God to take care of your physical being. By all means, try to be a peacemaker. Stay as neutral as you can. Love your enemy because you respect the image of God in every person. Barbara Rowe adds: Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. In the US, we are a very open society.

Put that aside. Find the people you can trust, and listen to what they have to say. My wife and I also have been encouraged that in spite of the brokenness of the world, Jesus said: You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. After months of negotiations, we are finally here to run our first Christian reconciliation conference in the Druzhkivka, Donetsk, region. Both sides of the conflict—Ukrainian- and Russian-speaking—are invited to spend quality time discussing their situation and to work for practical solutions. Skeptics in politics and church had discouraged us from going.

Stay out of this. It is not your business. Prior to the conference in the city of Druzhkivka, our team visited the frontlines near Donetsk. A local mission team that frequently visits the villages and towns along the frontlines had agreed to bring us there.

So, we loaded up our vehicle with food supplies and off we went. Would the soldiers let us enter the neutral zone between the two armies? Would they perhaps arrest us Westerners for going where no one is allowed to go? Many questions stirred in my mind as we approached the frontline. At the first checkpoint, soldiers stopped our car. Thank you, brothers! This guy was obviously not enjoying the job assigned to him.

And he welcomed our mission bringing bread. We passed all checkpoints successfully. Now, we were in the gray zone. Daily shooting made this place dangerous. Our driver obviously knew his way, though. Soon, we entered the first village.

Within seconds of our arrival, our car was sur- rounded, mostly by older people. Thank God! Most of them were atheists before the war started. This war has robbed them of everything they believed in. For them, our visit is the only glimpse of hope they receive. It is much more than bread; it is a sign of life beyond war. People started telling us their stories. Some of them cried tears. Others seemed to have dried out of tears long ago.

We distributed bread and some winter clothes, sang a number of songs with the people, prayed a prayer, and journeyed on to the next village. The villagers, however, remained standing on the street as we drove away, as if they wished to freeze in place the little moment of comfort they had just experienced. We did not introduce ourselves like this. They decided to name us members of their families themselves. Most of them have lost family in this war. We entered the city of Avdievka, a famous industrial suburb of Donetsk.

Wherever one looked, there were marks of war. Just months before, this had been a battlefield. The neighbors come here for peace and rest because this is a God-protected place, they say. The sanctuary seemed like it had been turned into a thrift store; used clothes, household utilities, and many other useful things filled the room.

One corner had been cleared, so we placed the bread there. We try to provide them with what we find here and there. And our brothers help us. No one knows how long this war may continue. We just know what our Christian duty is—to be a helping hand to those in need. We do not evangelize aggressively as we did before the war. Loving and caring for people is evangelization enough in our situation. People come to us because they find comfort here. No one else seems to care. We do, because God does.

And seeing us, they discover God. I left the place deeply touched by his words. And more testimonies like his—many more—would follow during our conference in Druzhkivka. The Church in a World of War The opening story of this article encourages us to think creatively about mission in zones of conflict.

What are the main parameters of such a mission? What might the most crucial missionary task of the church in such zones be? The church follows the mission of Jesus. The church has no other mission than to do what Jesus did! And Jesus was sent to reconcile the world with God 2 Cor and to bring peace on earth Luke —a state of shalom in which conflicts are solved, hope is generated, and convivence becomes a reality.

The heart of Christian mission is to reconcile those in conflict with God and one another. Dishonoring God, humans have fallen into a self-destructive mode of life. We live in a conflict-laden zone! Where is this more visibly obvious than in situations like the one described in our opening story? God does not want sinners to perish Ez and, therefore, sent his only begotten Son to save and reconcile the world with himself 2 Cor. The fullness of reconciliation is friendship with God in Jesus Christ.

God desires peace with his creation, and, therefore, peace is at the heart of his mission. Through the Son and the Spirit, God is making peace—between God and the world, and thus also within all of creation itself. When this insight is brought together with the concept of the missio Dei developed a few decades earlier in missiology, we see the biblical foundations for reconciliation as a paradigm of mission, a paradigm that began taking on a particular poignancy and urgency in the last decade of the twentieth century.

Yes, says the apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. They are sent as their Lord was sent. With the same intention. Theologically speak- ing, all Christian mission must be transcended by a spirit of peace and rec- onciliation. Christian mission can never intentionally promote conflicts and war. Instead, it will move into zones of conflict, introducing peace and rec- onciliation.

At the conference in Druzhkivka, this very truth opened hearts and minds of people on both sides of the conflict. God offers help—divine help—to assist a process of ending conflict. The way toward peace is reconciliation! Inward and outward emigration instead of active participation ruled their agendas. What do Christians contribute to a more peaceful living in communities around the world?

Do they see peacebuilding as their mission? In Ukraine, the majority did not. And the Ukrainian Evangelicals are in no way an exemption. A quick overview of positions shared among Christians of different denom- inations reveals a deep divide between Ecumenical and Evangelical Christians. While the first clearly identify peacebuilding as a vital part of the mission given to the church,10 most Evangelicals distinguish between evangelism and social responsibility and include peacebuilding in the latter.

Christians are called to both, they argue, but social responsibility—and, with it, peacebuilding—is not part of the core mission of the church. Peacemakers focus on social issues, while evangelists save souls. Peacemakers fear that evangelism among Mus- lims increases conflict, while evangelists believe that peacemakers compromise the gospel.

Love even speaks of a missing peace in evangelical missiology. Since the publication of Guy F. However, the mission of reconciliation and peacebuilding is, as a rule, separated from evangelism. This includes evangelism as attraction. Evangelism as proclamation, on the other hand, is not even mentioned. Miller gets to the heart of the struggle of North American Anabaptists, stating: 11 Lausanner Verpflichtung, 5th ed.

Stuttgart: Lausanner Bewegung Deutschland, , 4. Dyck, eds. Lapp, ed. But in our society and even in our congregations, this is a loaded conversation. Since , the church has expressed an integral view of the relationship between evangelism and peacebuilding. One has the impression that church leaders feel they are forced to decide between the two—for engagement in evangelism or peacebuilding, as Hans Kasdorf rightly observes.

The separation between mission as evangelism and peacemaking as mis- sion is a universal problem. I suggest that yes, it is. In Eastern Ukraine, the vast majority of Christians left the conflict zone. The absence of a proper integral theology of evangelical peacebuilding leads to withdrawal from the conflict zones of the world.

In contrast, a missional church will find herself in the midst of the world of war, in all those conflict zones, offering peace to those in trouble. It is fascinat- ing to see that the issue of reconciliation has become one of the central themes in mission circles since the beginning of the s24 and has developed rapidly to a vividly discussed model of mission.

Edition Bienenberg Bd. The church moving into the conflict zones of the world with a message of reconciliation and peace will make a difference. How does this happen prac- tically? What is a genuine contribution of the church to peace and conflict resolution? She has no other call, no other vision, no other methodology. What does a mission of reconciliation include? Following the example of Jesus, it will include five basic dimensions: 1. Witness: living a reconciled life 2.

Diaconia: serving troubled people 3. Dialog: engaging in conversation for peace 4. Prophecy: naming the hard issues 5. The Mission of the Church in a World of War 57 3. Witness: Living a Culture of Peace in the Midst of conflict A mission of reconciliation begins where the church joins the people in a zone of conflict.

Cultural anthropology speaks of a four-story house describing culture: a the material, b the social, c the cognitive, and d the religious levels of life. In a culture of peace, all levels will be shaped by peace and justice. In fact, peace transcends all life, becoming the way to be. Instead, it will be involved in caring and serving those who lost all their possessions through the conflict around them.

Poverty is con- sciously reduced among those who share with one another. Bringing bread and clothes etc. Christian neighbors love each other as they love God and themselves. Love never harms the other. In fact, in the kingdom of God, anger cannot hold longer than sunset Eph Community is here defined as reciprocal fellowship in which everybody has something to give as well as to take from the community.

In the New Testament, such fellowship is called koinonia. It is somatic community, a body in which every part plays its crucial role. The church, the body of Christ, demonstrates to the community in conflict her koinonitic nature, inviting everyone to participate in sharing and giving.

Societal life in such a context is shaped by a mind of service. Meekness is the ideology of a thriving, peace-centered society. The well-being of all is its agenda. As a true priest, the church brings the world in con- flict, in which she lives, to the throne of God in her daily prayer.

And as a true king, the church will engage in meaningful action toward transformation of conflict and rebuilding of community. All religion is God-centered. God rules through his Spirit, granting to the church spiritual gifts such as a word of revelation, of knowledge, of wisdom, and of prophecy that enable her to listen to his voice.

Mem- bers of the church receive gifts of discerning the spirits, new tongues, and interpretation of tongues. They are gifted for strategical leadership and teaching, helping and serving. No institution on earth has ever been as qualified to live in prosperity, justice, and peace as the church of Jesus Christ. The mission of peacebuilding of the church of Christ is first and foremost a lifestyle, a culture she promotes—a just, loving, and serving culture.

This includes all local communities—and conflict contexts are no exemption but rather a priority. Diakonia: Serving the Troubled Living amid a culture offers millions of chances to act justly, lovingly, and peacefully. The kingdom is displayed in a community by a missional church, who accepts her priestly role to serve the world around her. Doing works of compassion, she introduces hope to a troubled world. Diakonia becomes a cru- cial instrument of peacemaking in the world.

It is diaconal service that removes the roots of conflict and trouble. People might have lost their property due to bad management and for fifty years others participated in their source of income, but now, at Jubilee, things were supposed to change. The return of property was to give everybody a new start. The dangerous divide between those who have and those who have not—which is responsible for much economic and political unrest in the world—was never to develop.

Shared economy was to be celebrated as justice, good neighborhood, and national pride. In other instances, people ended up in slavery, selling their strengths to the rich and well-off. In the Jubilee para- digm, serving these people in slavery meant setting them free from their own- ers. Peace, to them, was marked by freedom and independence. For the sick, caught in their pain and disability to care for themselves, it meant treatment and health, assistance and help.

For the demoniacs, it meant freedom from the spirits occupying them. This is how we see Jesus introduce peace to people. He came to serve those in need. The church is called to serve those in need, free those in bondage, heal the sick, and set the captives free. Her service displays the glory of God in society, brings light to the dark places of the world, and shares minerals for the fruitless soil of culture. Wherever she serves, reconciliation and peace with the world, society, the neighborhood, and oneself may come with justice and restoration.

The mission of peacemaking has a diaconal dimension that is crucial to peacebuilding. In a conflict zone, this might mean active engagement in nam- ing the sources of conflict and opposing angry politics and social injustice. Promoting the kingdom requires working with, instead of just for, the people.

Peace is not simply offered by the church to the people; it is a joint communal experience of those who come and offer and those who accept and share peace, as Jesus seems to suggest in his commissioning words to his disciples in Matthew — The grand story of God with the world reveals to us many examples of this principle.

God has his people for peace in places we might not expect them to be. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not ac- knowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

Or a city-known prostitute in Jericho, Rahab—who saved the Israeli spies from being captured and opened a way for Israel to enter the promised land Jo —is praised for being a hero of faith Heb and named among the forefathers and mothers of Jesus Mt ? Other examples could be mentioned. Rather, it is a rule. It is impossible to reconcile conflicting parties without revealing the source of their rivalry. The church has a prophetic voice in the world to name the issues of conflict, strife, and war.

The church can never stay quiet about injustice in the world. She must, and she will, speak out for and side with the oppressed and the poor, the victims and weak. She will expose the oppressor and the oppression, knowing where God wants her to be. This is what the prophets of the Old Testament did.

They exposed those who trampled the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth Am They raised their voices against the unjust and oppressive rulers of the day Am —10 , blaming the ruling elite of their time for their evil practices Jer —10; —13; Is —7.

She will never become a political party but, rather, will be a critical companion of rulers and governments. The different prophetic gifts of the Spirit allow the church to see the truth. In conflicts, this is an outstanding asset. Reading cultures, contexts, and situa- tions in their entanglement with conflict and oppression is a necessary presup- position to any meaningful conflict resolution. A prophetically gifted church is enabled to analyze the context properly and then name the issues creating unrest.

Peacemaking presupposes prophetic insight—a gift to discern the spir- its involved. Evangelism: Healing the Wounded Peacemaking leads to reconciliation of those in conflict. Reconciliation is, therefore, an active part of what is traditionally called evangelism. Evan- gelism derives its meaning from the Greek euangelion, which stands for good news. Representatives of different theological traditions have defined the term differently, 39 but in this they all find a common ground: evangelism brings the evangel to the people.

The way you define the gospel will, therefore, basically determine your definition of evangelism. Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of God that brings peace to humans. And his proclamation includ- ed life, deeds, and words, as we have seen above. He modeled good life, of- fered good life, and spoke about good life. And people accepting his offer were healed from sickness, demonic possession, and loneliness. When the disciples of John came to ask Jesus whether he was the promised Messiah, Jesus replied: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me. In fact, the entire New Testament teaches nothing else. Mariano Delgado and Michael Sievernich St. Ottilien: EOS Verlag, , Shenk reflects on the experience of the church healing the wounds of ethnic conflict after the genocide in Rwanda, stating that it was exactly the peaceful lifestyle and the fullhearted engagement of Christians for both the victims and the perpetrators in the darkest hour of the Rwandan tribes that brought hope and healing to the whole nation.

Many of their members have left the conflict zone. Others are staying. More and more of them are discov- ering their missionary task of peacebuilding and reconciliation. The situation might not allow them to do more, but what they do brings to the neighbors food and clothing, glimpses of hope, and trust and forgiveness. Because of this, the church grows naturally. And in our new village there will be a church, such as yours.

The villager was no Christian yet, but you could feel a growing hope for the future—a future in a reconciled community. The conference in Druzhkivka united many Christians around this new mission. Months later, a center for counseling and trauma therapy was started, a community rebuilding office came into being, and many other initiatives toward a reconciling practice are on the way.

Mission of the local church has gained new momentum by accepting a new paradigm—the paradigm of mis- sion as reconciliation. Hundreds of peo- ple—mostly women and children—are seeking help but mostly hope. A young mother walks toward me holding the hand of a child who waddles along as a drop of serum from an ulcer on her ballooned-out feet falls on the dusty road.

The child is gradually dying from lack of protein in her diet. What can we do? We give her seven vitamin tablets, then move on to the next dying child. When I get back to Abiriba, as I walk from the hospital to our home feeling helpless and desperate, I hear a voice from beyond.

I know it is not my thought, but I also know I did not hear it with my ears, so what is it? Becoming Medical Missionaries in Nigeria In Nigeria gained independence from Great Britain, and five years later, one week after being married, we went to experience this new country. Our Norwegian freighter ploughed across the Atlantic, nosed in at ports along the West Africa coast, and dropped us off at Port Harcourt. Our work took place over the course of three and a half years in the midst of what would become intense and sometimes deadly conflict.

Several groups of people were involved: the Nigerians and Biafrans and different tribal groups among them, the mission workers—both medical and church-related, Wally Shellenberger and his wife, Evie, worked in Nigeria and Biafra during the late s through the joint efforts of Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, Mennonite Central Committee, and American Friends Service Committee. They retired from their medical work in southern Indiana in to work with the MCC student exchange pro- gram in Iran through mid They now live in Paoli, Indiana.

This account is of our personal experience with the interaction of these groups. We are not claiming to speak authoritatively, except for ourselves as on- site medical mission workers. However, what we have to relate can readily apply to other similar situations. The following is an account of what we experienced, mostly as recorded in personal letters and reports to which we had personal ac- cess.

At the end of this article, we share some of our general conclusions about mission and ministry in conflict zones. A Mennonite Central Committee MCC volunteer service worker from the north, Ken Yoder, tells us that five hundred people have been killed in Kano and that the Igbo and Hausa tribes are fighting each other.

Earlier, the British had drawn boundaries that enclosed ancient tribes of many long-standing rivalries, the largest being the Hausa in the north—who are mostly Muslim—the Yoruba in the southwest, and the mostly Christian Igbos in the southeast, where we live. Within a couple months, another coup removes the Igbo leaders.

The tal- ented, well-educated, and aggressive Igbos, working in top jobs in the north, are targeted and many thousands killed. Abiriba, a town of seventeen villages and a population of fifty thousand, has been home to many Igbo traders work- ing in the north, who now begin streaming home. Several of these persons with high-ranking governmental jobs are fearing for their lives and plead with us missionaries to write out medical statements saying that because of health reasons they must stay in Eastern Nigeria.

In the midst of life-threatening con- flict, how does a missionary respond to very personal requests like this? And we are not big heroes and will do whatever the Mission Board and the Consulate recommend. Fortunately, we were able to hire an additional doc- tor, Dr. Udoji, who fled from Lagos. He ended up working with us through the difficult next two years. Bombs, Bullets, and Bread in Biafra 65 In May , the eastern region of Nigeria seceded, calling itself Biafra, which prompted the Nigerian government to block all services to Biafra, such as air flights, mail, and commerce.

This action also cut off all sources of protein for the Biafran diet, including beef, beans, ground nuts, and vegetables from the north; fresh fish from the sea; and a staple of imported dried fish. This led to severe protein malnourishment and death. On June 3, , Evie writes: Last night about 6 p. AID car drove into our driveway, and I knew right away what that meant. The U. Consulate told us we must prepare for evacuation, and all dependents were to leave the country.

So the people on the compound the Mennonite missionaries staying near the hospital met right away, trying to decide what should be done. We decided to send the Hertzlers—Mrs. Any- one on the field with children are leaving the region…. Lloyd Fisher the country coordinator for MBMC came over today and said he would go to the Ministry of Health to see what he could do about the hospital. About six weeks later, in a letter dated July 20, , Evie writes: About two and one half weeks ago, the Americans were advised to leave, so about half of our missionaries left the country.

Then two weeks ago today, Fishers came down from Enugu and said we must all leave and that things were really bad. The weekend when everyone was leaving, Wally had three emergency surger- ies, etc. As a result, we are presently the only Mennonites expatriate in Biafra, us along with the Gingeriches and Martha…. I guess this is really the time for us to be here—the people are so anxious, etc.

We have two different tribal groups on our hospital staff, and the tension between them is high. The minority group feels safe as long as the Bekees the local vernacular for expatriate whites are here. The growing Mennonite Church Nigeria has recently celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. In September , Evie writes: With the help of the British and the Russians, the Nigerians are sending over bombers, trying to alarm everyone.

When one goes over the staff, patients who can, run for the bush. A few handmade bombs have been dropped some places but have not done much damage. And then in December she writes: Last week we received news that the Biafran Army is taking over part of the Abiriba Hospital as they had to evacuate their hospital in Calabar, eighty miles south of us, due to bombing, and so today we got our first batch of wounded soldiers, and ever since this place has been impossible!

It is really something to get anywhere from five to fifteen seriously wound- ed people at once. I have been working primarily in the operating room assisting with all the amputations and suturing of wounds. The army sent their own doctors to care for the soldiers, so we are relieved about that, but our staff are helping them. Evie makes up a milk substi- tute with the main ingredient being the few beans we can find in the market.

Needless to say, we are running low on surgical supplies and medications. The war will set this country back ten years or more with so many schools, hospitals, etc. And what are the styles for Easter this year?? Mini skirts still in style?? What are the hair styles?? Can I come home with my boy cut!!?? Do Mennonites still wear coverings??? The following month, several people with strange wounds come to be seen.

One man with a huge, two-day-old slice through the muscles in his neck and still walking describes the wound as an attempt to kill him. Gradually the story comes out: There are several villages of the Ibibio tribe about ten miles south- east of us, where we make regular supervisory-consultative visits to a dispenser and midwife at a village health center.

Igbos have accused them of assisting the Nigerian army in infiltrating the area and have killed hundreds, wounded dozens, and burned the villages. As a result, we now have many refugee camps near- by, each with thousands of refugees.

There are many motherless children now, and many injured children who watched all the killings. All of our Ibibio staff were taken to Umahia for questioning, and so far only one has returned. It is a disgusting and tragic situation. This plus the fact that it is apparent their medical supplies are running lower and lower not to mention the fact that their vehicles have now been commandeered has led us to encourage the group at Abiriba to leave Biafra unless they know of some compelling reasons to the con- trary…I am reporting this to you in confidence since we do not want to make this public as of now.

Ultimately, of course, only those right on the spot can decide how important it is that they stay…We are attempting to get this message to them in a special way via the Church of Scotland office. The malnutrition problem is really getting terrible.

We got some powdered milk and eggs last month from WCC, and we are giv- ing out a mixture daily to two hundred children, but our supply is almost gone and each day we keep hoping the Red Cross will fly in more. It would really be appreciated. We can hardly stand to see so many people starving.

A few erratic relief flights come in May Evie writes: The Nigerians are asked to shoot down any relief planes landing in Biafra. The airstrip, once a road, also used to bring in ammunition, is only half as wide as needed, and with the rains, pilots are very reluctant to fly in—es- pecially since everything must be done at night. Last week a Red Cross plane carrying four passengers crashed as they were landing, and all were killed…. Last week only one out of four flights was able to land.

About this time, Wilbert received a letter from a Mr. Bernard who had heard the following from Mr. Somerville, a Scots Presbyterian missionary who lived about ten miles west of us: Even though the group at Abiriba has completed three years, they give every evidence of not wanting to leave their work. And Wilbert adds: This communication also give assurance that there is a close working rela- tionship between the group at Abiriba and the other missionaries in Biafra and that they look out for the welfare of each other in a commendable way.

About this time, David Duncan, an engineer with the mission from the Church of Scotland, came to live with us, giving invaluable help in keeping our generator going for surgery and for two hours each night. In addition to this, he taught us how to play hearts, and from him I took my one and only puff on a cigarette.

Yes, we enjoy good support and fun with other missionaries in the same boat. On September 3, , Evie writes: They are starting their terrible bombings again. Last week another hospital and refugee camps were bombed. It is really terrible. We can sympathize with the fears of the Igbos that they will be slaughtered if the Nigerians come in…. Supplies have been coming in fairly well the last several weeks. This past month we have been better off for supplies than we have been for months. By mid month, we hear that a Swedish Red Cross team is available to give us a break.

To prepare for Evie, Wally, and Martha to get away for a few months, we appoint Dr. Udoji as medical superintendent of the hospital to manage the inpatient and outpatient care. The Swedish doctors will cover emergencies and surgeries, and the others of the Swedish team will continue the nutritional feeding programs, of which many are in process. Unfortunate- ly, supportive visits to the village health centers will have to stop.

With these preparations, the three of us fly out through the night, sitting on the floor of a shaky DC Martha arrives home before us and debriefs with MBMC. Two are listed here: 1 It seems very important that as a Church and as a people committed to a ministry of reconciliation, that we remain open to help people regardless of their political position.

We do anticipate participating in relief and reconstruction when this is possi- ble. Evie and Wally arrive in Goshen on October 11, Among the op- portunities to share about our experience is speaking in the chapel service at Goshen College. After the service, six students—who are ready to return with us to Biafra to help—call a meeting for that evening, and twenty students meet to consider their involvement.

A level of spiritual commitment has come out of this, for which we are grateful and which must be taken seriously. There are some who have deepened their long-term commitment to Christian service, and there is also a group who would be ready to abandon their present study program to offer their personal services in a relief program if and when such a need arises.

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