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Issue 15-1

Pray the Devil Back to Hell


I’ve spent a lot of time this last month studying non-violent passive resistance movements. Since we planted an inter-racial church in the inner city of Chicago in 1968, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of the Black Panther Movement and the massive demonstrations around the anti-Vietnam War Protest, the concept of people power has fascinated me much of my adult life. I’ve waded through Mighty Be Our Powers, written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. This is the story of how hundreds of Muslim and Christian women banded together in passive resistance demonstrations to end the Civil War in Liberia, which eventually brought down the government of the dictator, Charles Taylor. I also purchased the DVD Gandhi, thinking I wanted to watch this with my grandchildren in order to discuss with them the meaning of this one man’s life and the impact of his thinking.

In this past month, I’ve read Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Legacy of Non-Violent Conflict by authors Chenoweth and Stephan and carefully studied A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflict by authors Ackerman and Duvall. In all these books, Gene Sharpe is cited as being the foremost theoretician on non-violent action, and his publications have been influential in struggles around the world. Consequently, I’ve ordered his book, Waging Non-Violent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential. I didn’t think I was up to reading the three-volume political-science book, based on his 1968 doctoral thesis for Oxford University, Part One: The Power and Struggle; Part Two: The Methods of Nonviolent Action; Part Three: The Dynamics of Non-Violent Action.

Why am I interested in this, of all things?

Truthfully, I believe in my deepest heart of hearts that American Christians, for the most part, do not take on evil power structures in non-violent ways because they are afraid to upset the order, do not care enough about those who suffer due to misapplied power, and cannot conceive of the Gospels as a call to radical discipleship having anything to do with entering into protracted, difficult, non-violent passive resistance movements. And I put my own name at the top of the list.

I believe in the deepest part of my heart that the New Testament Scriptures are addressed to the people of God. The “you” the writers use in the epistles is written, for the most part, to a corporate you. I also believe that when we interpret Christianity as a solo, individualistic enterprise, we miss the power of the “we-believe-people” following a Christ who is concerned about us speaking truth to power in the most effective and most historically proven ways.

This quote was on a scrap of paper in a drawer I opened this morning. I don’t know the source, but I suspect it is the lyrics from a song:

“One man’s hands can’t tear a prison down;
two men’s hands can’t tear a prison down,
But if two plus two plus fifty make a million,
We’ll see that day come around.
We’ll see that day come around.”


How did I get started on all this?
Blame it on Susan Shadid. Here’s the story.

Because of being a past trustee on the board of directors, I was invited to attend this last Urbana Missions Conference. However, I left arrangements for travel to the last minute (the conference meets in St. Louis during the five days between Christmas and New Years). I thought I would take our family car, reluctantly leaving my husband with the old clunker, which is good ONLY for driving around town.

The day before departure, however, I received an e-newsletter from a friend, Susan Shadid, who is working in Israel, on the Jerusalem side of the wall, teaching mostly Palestinian kids. It “just so happened” (actually never use that phrase; nothing ever “just so happens”) that she was driving down to St. Louis the next day. Christians who owned a car dealership had loaned her the use of a new van. However, she didn’t know where she would be staying.

I, due to my work with InterVarsity, came under the Special Guest category and a hotel room with two queen-size beds had been reserved for me. I invited Susan to stay with me at no extra cost to her, and we used her loaner van to drive the six blocks back and forth from the Edward Jones Dome where the 16,000 college-student attendees would be gathering two times a day for worship and prayer as well as for challenging messages from missiologists asking all of us to consider what kind of role God might be asking us to play in His Story around the world.

In addition, Susan was staying with her family only one mile from our house and if we left early enough in the morning, I would be able to help Susan set up her ministry’s booth in the hall where many mission outreaches were planning to dialogue with 1000s of students eager to be part of God’s ongoing story.

You may not know much about the politics of Israel, but you certainly know enough to understand that it is a difficult, tortuously conflicted area of the world. One of the classes Susan teaches to mostly Palestinian students is on movements of non-violent resistance. Eventually, I was given a copy of their course book, Peace Works. Because I am deeply interested in this, the topic became a major source of conversation on the car ride south. It was Susan who asked me if I had seen the DVD Pray the Devil Back to Hell. This is the story of the Liberian women who mounted a sustained peace protest against the horrors of civil war: drugged-up child soldiers, rape as a condition of conquest, corruption in government and the dictatorship of Charles Taylor. Talk about courage.

The New York Times wrote, “Uplifting, disheartening, inspiring, enraging.” The back copy reads, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the inspiring story of a group of ordinary women who came together—Muslim and Christian, rich and poor, urban and rural—to bring peace to their war-torn but beloved Liberia. The story of their historic achievement is gripping, suspenseful, terrifying and ultimately incredibly satisfying.” Desmond Tutu remarks, “Eloquently captures the power each of us innately has within our souls to make this world a far better, safer, more peaceful place.”

So what am I saying with all this? I’m saying that in this troubled world if we Christians are going to “pray the devil back to Hell” we’re going to have to do so in positive collusion, with strategic collaborations, and with forceful but respectful collegiality. We have to help one another, challenge one another’s lazy thinking, link arms, march quietly and compassionately and learn patience beyond our human capacity. We must become the we-the-people once again facing the evils of our day with all the righteous powers at our command.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And so … I’m thinking about all this, researching and praying, looking at Scripture, listening … and listening … and listening.

• Anyone interested in watching the DVD Pray the Devil Back to Hell with me and having a mind-stretching discussion?
• Or does anyone want to watch it on your own and have a conference call?
• Does anyone else want to be part of “two plus two plus fifty make a million”?— let me know.
• Or if you are already functioning in a “we believe people” movement, tell me about it.


Susan Shadid writes from Jerusalem requesting prayer:

“Quick update and to ask for your prayers tomorrow. Last year I invited Wasim, a past delegate, from the organization, Minds of Peace, an NGO which simulates peace talks to come and speak at our school. We learned the goals of MOP is to show politicians, through working with hundreds of 'civilian negotiators' that peace is possible, reachable and do-able. They organize public forums where they bring 8 Israeli and 8 Palestinian delegates to come together for 2 whole days in an open square. Each side comes up with and agrees on 4 Trust Building measures and 4 Peace Pacts. Before they start the negotiations they decide together if they are going for a one state or a 2 state solution or something else. Then they begin negotiating and together come up with resolutions and a Peace Plan. Interestingly enough, the public has always been able to do what the politicians have not been about to do. Surprised? 99% of the time, these open forums have been done with adults.

However, tomorrow morning, I will be on a bus with 40 of our Palestinian students heading to Tel Aviv where (8 will be delegates, one will be a moderator). The most prestigious and oldest HS in Israel, Herzliya Gymnasia will be hosting us inside of their school. The rest of our students will be a part of an active audience, where they can vote for or against the issues presented by their delegates. Then in turn, on Feb 22, the Herzliya students will be coming to our HS. This is a VERY RARE thing that happens in this country. The principal of this school, Dr. Ze'ev Deganni, is an outspoken peace activist. He has refused to allow the army into his school to influence his students, and most recently, he defied the Ministry of Education's ban on allowing members of "Breaking The Silence" into high schools. BTS is an Israeli NGO made of former soldiers who speak out against the violations carried out by the army in the occupied territories.

“Please pray that the whole day will be held in an atmosphere of good will, support and trust at all levels. Pray that bonds will naturally happen (it usually does) and that ALL students will not see the ‘face of the enemy’ but the face of another teenager just like themselves who want to live with freedom and without fear.”

Karen Mains

NOTICES

Memoir-Writing Teleconference Class Starting Again

WHEN: Starting in the second half of April through the second half of October—exact times to be determined by group availability.

FREQUENCY: We will meet twice a month, with a few personal consultations thrown in.

WHO: Writers who are serious about publishing articles or books in the personal essay format. This is a writing journey into self discovery for both men and women.

HOW MANY: Having learned that I can’t service  a large number of participants, this teleconference term will be limited to no more than EIGHT members.

HOW MUCH: The fee is $500. This includes 13 hour and a half sessions, plus manuscript evaluations, make-up sessions, and a few personal coaching sessions. When you register, you will receive a bibliography of suggested memoir writings, a draft curriculum (this changes from teleconference class to teleconference class depending upon the questions of individual group members), and some samples of memoir-writing pieces.

HOW TO REGISTER: Because I will be traveling, please contact the Hungry Souls office manager, Heather Ann Martinez, at heatherm@mainstayministries.org. You must register and pay the fee by April 8. If you contact Heather, she can take a credit card payment, help you to send a payment through PayPal, or tell you where to mail a check.

Please send a sample of your writing. It doesn’t need to be a memoir, but something that would be helpful as far as giving me an idea about your approach.

WHY MEMOIR WRITING:
Memoir writing is often an extraordinary journey into personal discovery. The teleconference format allows for privacy, and it surprisingly becomes another form of the Listening Group process that Hungry Souls has worked to develop.

Our goal is to create a safe, interactive environment where people can begin to explore the memoir form. This is not the place for critical literary analysis—too often that shuts down the writing initiative. We want to encourage and affirm and to gently question. We do not want to challenge judgmentally. These are personal stories, in which the writer often makes startling discoveries about his or her own journey. The rest of us listen and applaud and make constructive comments. My greatest hope is that you will slip into the joy of doing this work, not into the drudgery or dread of it. There will be simple assignments to get you started, then we will focus on what the particular personal story it is you want to tell.

Karen Mains

Soul Alert: “Danger Ahead” Signs for Aliens and Strangers Traversing This Earth

Hungry Souls will be offering mentoring on spiritual practices that are good for the soul throughout the rest of 2016. Scripture teaches that we are all “displaced persons”—“Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God...” (1 Peter 2)

So, how is your soul doing in this cross-earth transit? Does it feel famished, starving, neglected or ill? Would you like to flourish? Would you like to discover some proven nutrients that will bring you back to health? Would you like to feel fed and nurtured?

The first spiritual practice that thousands through the centuries, starting with David in the Psalms, have discovered nurtures the soul is: Keeping a Spiritual Journal

We will spend a day at Turtle Creek Farms in McHenry, Illinois on Thursday April 21, starting at 9:00 in the morning and ending at 3:00 in the afternoon. Eighteen acres of protected marsh. Spring rising in the land. The barn-house lodge with plenty of comfortable nooks and lofts and     cushions and tartans for privacy and comfort. Plenty of housepets, but they will be confined for the day.
   
Fee for the first Soul Alert event is $150 and your registration must be in by April 16. Email Melissa Timberlake at Melissa@GrowthEdgeGroup.com. For those in ministry, we will offer a reduced fee. Just inquire.

In the morning, we will introduce you to a variety of ways to journal your prayers and record your relationship with God. If you have a journaling practice that works for you, feel free to share your approach and how it has helped you tend to your own soul. Silence will begin at lunch (vegan and gluten-free)—then the afternoon will be given to thoughtful and prayerful time to journal what it is you are hearing the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. We will provide a series of questions to guide your thinking.

Melissa Timberlake and Karen Mains

Reminder!

The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.


Karen Mains

Karen Mains

I believe in the deepest part of my heart that the New Testament Scriptures are addressed to the people of God. The “you” the writers use in the epistles is written, for the most part, to a corporate “you.”
BOOK CORNER
Mighty Be Our Powers:
How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War
by Leymah Gbowee


I ordered my copy of this book from Amazon.com along with the DVD, Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

"As a young woman, Leymah Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that destroyed her country. Although she was a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that women and children are the ones who suffer most during conflicts—and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force.

"In 2003, Gbowee helped organize and lead the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia’s ruthless president and rebel warlords. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace, and in the process emerged as an international leader who changed history."

Buy From Amazon.com



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