The Peacemaking Church Resource Set
A comprehensive approach to building a Culture of Peace–it’s the next generation of peacemaking materials for churches $199.00 more info
|Upcoming Event Schedule:
• October 5-6, St. Louis, MO – Presentation at Covenant Seminary
• October 12, Lynchburg, VA – Peacemaker Seminar
• October 13, Bozeman, MT – Peacemaker Seminar
• October 19-20, Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Conflict Coaching
• October 20, Duluth, MN – Peacemaker Seminar
• October 26-27, Las Cruces, NM – Peacemaker Seminar
• October 26-27, Dublin, OH – Peacemaker Seminar
• October 27, Lanesville, IN – Peacemaker Seminar
• November 2-3, Wichita, KS – Peacemaker Seminar
• November 8-10, Englewood, CO – Conflict Coaching/Mediation Training
• December 7, Midlothian, VA – Conflict Coaching
More information, registration, or complete listing of upcoming events
2007 Conference Wrap-up
Excerpts from keynote addresses by Ken Sande, Victor Nakah, Randy Alcorn, and Edward Gilbreath
All those who attended the 2007 Peacemaker Conference have now returned home from North Carolina with the conference but a memory in the recent past. It is difficult to convey in words what took place at the conference and how God worked in the hearts of those who were there. But allow us to try, using the words of the four keynote addresses:
Ken Sande – The Glory and Joy of Unity
About 25 years ago, a Christian friend and attorney, Ralph Wright, had a huge impact on me. Ralph learned that he had an aggressive form of leukemia, and he fought it hard and suffered greatly. I learned so many lessons from him, but one thing in particular was so profound.
As he was reaching his final days before the Lord took him home, he said to me, “Ken, I am at peace with God about dying. To die is to gain. And I am at peace about leaving my wife. We’ll temporarily be apart in this world, but then we’ll be together again. But I’m still wrestling with my children … I’m not done raising them yet. There are so many things I want to teach them before I go. I’ve tried to cram ten years of parenting into ten weeks, but it just doesn’t work! I’ve learned that I need to focus on the most important things and then trust God to fill in the rest.”
I was reading in John 17 and the similarities struck me. Jesus knew he only had a short amount of time left with his disciples. He must have been doing the same thing: focusing in on absolutely the top priorities–the most important things for them to remember.
We have that prayer recorded for us in John 17:20-23. One concept that was of absolute, paramount importance to him and to the success of the church was not for his disciples to be happy, to have their rights satisfied, or to be free from suffering. Instead, Jesus prayed three times that we may be one; he prayed that we would get along with one another and be brought to complete unity. In fact, Jesus ties his reputation and the credibility of his message to how we relate with one another.
(Read a summary of Ken’s entire keynote message.)
Victor Nakah – Loving Your Enemies
In the context of the tribal-focused culture in Zimbabwe, I fell madly in love. After two years of courting, we decided to get married. When I introduced this beautiful young lady to my parents, they fell in love with her and couldn’t wait for us to get married. But when she tried to do the same thing–all hell broke loose. It was as though she had opened Pandora’s box. You see, we were from different tribes. Hers is the royal family, and mine is not. It was a taboo! It was unheard of for someone of the royal family’s tribe to marry someone from our side. You don’t contaminate royal blood! So her mother and father were prepared to fight to make sure our marriage didn’t happen.
In two years of negotiations, I was told off, abused, and told to go back to my own people to find a wife. At one point, my mother-in-law confronted me and made it very clear that if this marriage was going to happen, it would happen over her dead body. She told her daughter, if you go ahead with this, then you are as good as dead.
It took her one full year after that before she could even look my wife in the face and make conversation. (I guess Adam was the luckiest man on earth–no in-laws!)
But praise be to God! Today, our in-laws are members of our church, and I am the son they never had and their beloved pastor. How does God do it?
(Read a summary of Victor’s entire keynote message.)
Randy Alcorn – Using Our Words for Unity
I am greatly influenced by Francis Schaeffer. He often cited John 17:22-23 (“that they may be one as we are one … may they be brought to complete unity”). Schaeffer said, “God has given the world permission to look at how Christians treat each other, and on that basis determine whether the gospel is true.”
This is saying that the most powerful evangelism tool we have is not some pamphlet with “five evidences on the resurrection of Christ” or “three solutions to the problem of evil” or some checklist of sound doctrine. Instead, our most powerful evangelism tool is how we LOVE EACH OTHER. The world looks at us and comes to some conclusions about the truth of the gospel and who Jesus is based on our behavior.
I’m a father and a grandfather to four grandsons. I love those kids! Every father’s greatest joy is seeing his children and his grandchildren getting along together. Our whole family was together recently. I saw one of my daughters hugging another daughter; we were standing together and my arms were around them. It was precious–a little like being in heaven. As a father, I rejoice when my children love each other and get along with each other.
Doesn’t our Heavenly Father rejoice when His children get along with each other?
(Read a summary of Randy’s entire keynote message. You may also read Randy’s own reflections on the conference that he wrote on his blog.)
Edward Gilbreath – The Reconciliation Blues
There was recently a situation in the city of Peoria involving two police officers. A white officer was suspended for an indiscretion, whereas a black officer who committed a similar offense was immediately fired. It turned into an ugly fight in that community. A white pastor shared with me that he even had tension with a black pastor who thought this seemed like a racist thing. The white pastor noted, “It’s not always about race!” But the black pastor countered, “No, in America for a black man, it’s always about race.”
The sad thing is that in America today, both are right: depending on your life experience, where you come from, what you’ve seen, it’s always about race … and it isn’t. A divided Supreme Court rules against diversity programs in public schools–it is both about race and not. The OJ Simpson trial, voting patterns in American Idol, the Duke Lacrosse team, Barack Obama’s authenticity … all these are both about race and they’re not.
So much of our efforts toward reconciliation and unity are complicated by this frustrating reality: there are rarely clear-cut answers–there’s a lot of complexity and gray. This is one of the reasons I wrote the book–to tell my story and the stories of others. I want to give Christians a starting point for engaging in more honest conversations about race.
Jesus knew about this grayness. He dealt with it head-on. When he dined with tax collectors and sinners, he wasn’t looking at them as labels but as precious human beings made in God’s image and in desperate need of his saving love.
Jesus didn’t hold people’s sins against them in that context. He didn’t hold their culture, background or class against them. He came to offer them a glimpse of real life and truth.
(Read a summary of Ed’s entire keynote message.)
There are many other stories that came out of the conference–stories of reconciliation, stories of grace, and stories of God’s power and love bringing hope to a hopeless situation. Some of these stories took place leading up to the conference, some during the conference, and some are happening even now. We haven’t heard all the stories yet, so for those of you who attended the conference, please share your testimony of what God is doing in your life and church. Your story would be an encouragement to many people, so please take a few moments to share your story with us. Thank you to all who were there and to all who prayed for the conference. Our Lord did an amazing work in Charlotte, and we are grateful and humbled.
For those of you who weren’t able to be at the conference, we invite you to read the Keynote Summaries, watch for conference testimonies in the future, and order the audio/video recordings from the conference keynote and workshop sessions.
And it is never too early to make plans to join us in Orlando, Florida next fall for the 2008 Peacemaker Conference! (Registration is now open.)
Quote of the Month
Ken Sande, in The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, writes:
“Every time you encounter a conflict, you will inevitably show what you really think of God. If you want to show that you love him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37), then ask him to help you trust, obey, imitate, and acknowledge him, especially when it is difficult to do so. This behavior honors God and shows others how worthy he is of your devotion and praise.”
|More and more churches and individuals are in need of our training and resources, and many of them lack the financial resources to reimburse us for our expenses. We would love to serve them–would you consider making that possible? Be a blessing to others!Invest in spreading the gospel of God’s peace throughout his church. Thank you!