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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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
“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.
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.”
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 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.
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
HOW TO REGISTER: Because I will be traveling, please contact the Hungry Souls office manager, Heather Ann Martinez, at firstname.lastname@example.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:
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.
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)
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?
spiritual practice that thousands through the centuries, starting with
David in the Psalms, have discovered nurtures the soul is: Keeping a Spiritual Journal
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.
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
The Soulish Food e-mails are
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.
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.”
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.
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
"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
Buy From Amazon.com