The following page contains testimonies from people just like you who have seen the principles of biblical peacemaking work in their own lives. We’ll add testimonies as they come in, so keep checking back. If you haven’t added your testimony to our collection, we invite you to tell us your story now. We’d love to hear it!
Life had been breathed back into my lungs
Ten years ago I was on fire to teach Peacemaker material. I was meeting with two women on a weekly basis. They were lukewarm about the material, but I persevered because the videos, book, and seminar were filled with such hope. Then it happened. My conflict with a friend intensified. I had great doubts and felt defeated, and I closed the book on anything that spoke “Peacemaker.”
Recently, in God’s mercy He put me in a wedding receiving line with one of the women I had mentored, whom I had not seen in eight years. She was beaming when she said, “I think of you often and use the Peacemaker material everyday in my marriage.” Then Amy turned to her sister-in-law, who said, “I am in a Bible study in our Phoenix church where we are studying the Peacemaker material.” Then the mother hugged me and thanked me for mentoring her daughter during her years in college. Finally, the groom’s mother said to me, “We all know what an impact you made in Amy’s life!”
I felt as if life had been breathed back into my lungs, which long ago had collapsed under the weight of my personal failures in peacemaking. This experience gives new meaning to the truth that “God’s word will not return to Him void.”
Gary and Lauren Wright - Video
It is so exciting how God is working here!
For the months of June, July, and August, two adult Women Sunday School classes opted to study The Peacemaker instead of the regular quarterly curriculum. We used the DVD and the study guides. At the end we celebrated with a nice lunch at a local eatery on September 9th!
While the feedback was all positive, I really didn’t get any “AH-HAH” stories from the women. Then one Sunday after church, the mother of a participant shared that the class was very valuable for her adult daughter. She said that her daughter would have left the church over a serious dispute had it not been for the peacemaking principles taught! Wow!
I later went to the Peacemaker Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina and thoroughly enjoyed it! It was a “heavy” trek back as I hauled lots of books and resources. I was excited about the conference and shared my experiences with my pastor, the Executive Director of our convention as well as the facilitator of missions for our association. The latter e-mailed me and asked if I would like to have a “resource table” at the annual association meeting on October 16th to showcase some of the Peacemaker Ministries materials. I readily said “yes” and was able to put up a display encouraging folks to consider using the Peacemaker resources in their church. (Ah–I thought to myself–hauling those books back was a “God-thing”!)
Several folks who stopped at the table asked if we were going to have more training on island. I said that if there was enough interest, we could possibly arrange for it! One language pastor came by, picked up a leaflet, looked at it, and shared with me about the need to have training in his church. He wanted to use it! He met me a few days later and we arranged to have him get some of the materials. Our church had extra copies of The Peacemaker books and I had just purchased the resource set for The Peacemaking Church so I sold him our ten copies of the book and the new participant’s guide. I also advised him to check your website for articles as well as resources! It is so exciting how God is working here!
With Aloha in Christ,
Because I've been Forgiven - Video
God worked a miracle
A co-worker and I have had an unusual relationship – outside of work, we get along great, but at work, it is a different story. There is tension, disagreement — spoken and unspoken, and a general sense of frustration and underlying anger. I once told my husband, “I can’t help it. Every time she walks in the office, I get defensive and I put up a wall. I don’t want to work with her.” One unfortunate thing about this story is that we both work at a church. Our roles require us to work together.
I didn’t attend the Peacemaker conference to help me personally – I came to learn how to teach it to our short-term teams! How ridiculous is that? Of course, God had other ideas. He worked in me and opened my eyes. He gave me tools to reconcile this relationship.
I came home and this co-worker wanted to meet with me. Seems God had been at work in her as well. She did not want our difficult relationship to ruin what God was doing in the ministry.
We met just 4 days after the conference. We spoke to each other from the heart and in a true spirit of humility I believe. God worked a miracle. I firmly believe attending the Peacemaker Conference was a part of His plan all along. Thank you very much for what you do and for being committed to bringing peace so others can know Jesus. God bless you.
She accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior
We had a young lady last semester in one of our Tuesday evening Peacemaker classes. She only attended 3 sessions due to the fact that she had a one hour commute from her office to our church in the evenings and then a 2 hour commute home afterwards! I loaned her my set of the CD’s of The Peacemaker to listen to on the road so that she would have time to do her “homework” for the class. She phoned me a few weeks later – she was ecstatic!
Unbeknownst to us, this woman was of a Middle Eastern religion with no ties whatsoever to Christianity. She had only heard of our class and chosen to come because of a conflict that she was involved in at work – she had no interest in our faith. Through just 2 or 3 classes and the materials, and as she stated, “seeing the peace so evident in your lives”, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. She now is a member of our church and attends our Sunday morning Peacemaker class during the Sunday School hour.
On her first week there she shared her testimony with the class. What evidence she provided for us and our new class this semester that the gospel really works!
Bryan and Rose Alison
He showers us all with the joy, peace, & blessing
My husband and I are members of a church in Birmingham, Alabama. During the summer of 2007, our sunday school class went through some of the concepts of the peacemaker materials. I was excited about this topic, because I work as a therapist in a psychiatric outpatient setting and I thought these principles would be very helpful to learn and be able to use to help my client population with conflicts in their own lives. Little did I know, though, that God was planning to use this material in significant ways in my own heart and life. On 07/22/07, Ken Sande came to my church to speak to my sunday school class and to my church body as a whole about applying the concepts of biblical conflict resolution in our lives. That day as I allowed my own heart to be searched, God revealed 3 different situations of broken relationships from both my past & present, and He called me to go in obedience to each of the 3 women and confess my sins against them, acknowledge the hurt and damage I had caused to the relationships, ask for their forgiveness, and seek for the relationships to be reconciled and potentially fully restored.
As I prepared to go to each of these 3 women, by beginning to read through & answer some of the questions from The Peacemakerbook and by engaging in prayer to ask for strength & guidance, God sovereignly opened doors and prepared each of their hearts to warmly receive me and to offer their forgiveness and their willingness to be reconciled to me. I was so humbled and so blessed by each of their responses, but one particular friend’s response stands out to me as I reflect on my peacemaking experiences. This friend was the last of the 3 women I met with over the summer. My friend was gracious and receptive to my peacemaking efforts and at the end of our lengthy conversation, she expressed interest in knowing the name and author of the book that I had been reading on peacemaking. As our conversation drew to a close, she said something to me along the lines of, “I have been encouraged and convicted by the way you have approached me in handling our conflict. Would you be willing to help me and hold me accountable as I seek to read the book and to apply these principles to a broken friendship in my own life?” And my response to her was “I’m not an expert by any means, but I would be more than willing to walk with you and help you in any way that I can!”
This has been such a wonderful example in my own life of how God graciously uses obedience to His word to work in the lives of many people, and then He showers us all with the joy, peace, & blessing that come from submitting to His good and perfect will. All the glory, honor, and praise be to Him. God is so good!
Thank you Peacemaker Ministries for changing my life
My long-time friend and sister in the Lord whom I loved dearly invited me, along with some other women, to participate in the Peacemaker bible study that she was teaching at our church. I agreed and we began earnestly to explore the riches that Peacemaker had to offer. The deeper we went into the study the more I realized something was not right. I realized that all but one of us had unresolved conflict that we were not dealing with. We were talking a great deal about it but it had not impacted our lives to the point that any one of us was willing to actually do anything about it. Because I deeply respected my sisters and knew that we each had strong personalities in different ways I was terrified to lovingly confront our sin but God made it impossible for me to continue unless I was willing to put “feet” to the lessons I was learning each week. When I could bear it no longer I earnestly prayed and asked God to help me walk through the intense fear.
I was sure my knees would give way as I walked into our bible study that morning. I sat down, mouth parched, pulse racing uncontollably and in one of the most uncomfortable situations in my entire life, I poured out my heart to my sisters and confessed to my close friend and teacher that something had happened many years earlier that had come between us. The response that I received from each of them so surprised me that I knew it was the amazing work that the Holy Spirit was doing in each of our lives! I was able to express myself in a way that I had not previously been able to do. My long time friend and I were able to glorify God, get the logs out of our eyes, be reconciled and were gently restored to our former relationship! I can’t begin to describe the burden that has been lifted from me since then. I have also been able to reconcile another “old wound” that was allowed to fester for 13 years with the same result; another reconciled relationship!
Our bible study group has has since completed the “Peacemaker Church study. Two of the ladies in our group will be attending this fall’s Peacemaker Conference and we will be sharing our testimonies at two Peacemaker Church Seminars in our Church this summer!
Thank you Peacemaker Ministries for changing my life. May God bless you richly for your ministry!
Gwen Stokes (Jer: 29:11)
Arnprior, Ontario, Canada
These peacemaking principles can be used with Non-Christians
Here’s a story that proves that these peacemaking principles can be used with Non-Christians. My colleague, “Steve,” is an atheist. When we started working together, I grew increasingly uneasy by his casual use of the Lord’s name as an epithet. I prayed about whether I could “overlook” this offense from an unbeliever, but it got to the point where I was cringing when I was around him—I knew I had to talk with him.
One thing going for me was that Steve respected me, and I valued our collegiality. I didn’t want to offend or upset him. I prayed about how I could present this to him in a manner that would honor God, and would not ridicule Steve. I used some of the “Pause” Principles. As I prepared, it occurred to me that, although Steve was not interested in things of God, he respected me for my faith; that helped me determine how to present the issue to him.
On the particular morning when I decided to address this, I saw Steve and asked him whether we could talk sometime that day; he suggested mid-morning, and we agreed on a private meeting site. I didn’t want to just dump it on him, so I wanted him to choose a convenient time, but I was grateful that it was within a few hours of my mention of it.
I began our dialogue with another of the Pause Principles, affirming our relationship. Then I got to the point, explaining that, when he used the Lord’s name in vain, it hurt me, because that’s who I worship. He was stunned. He said he had never thought of it that way, and that he really wasn’t even that aware of using the Lord’s name—”it’s just the way I talk.” I understood. My request was that he try, when he was around me, to refrain from using the Lord’s name in vain. He readily agreed.
That ought to be the end of the story, but it’s not. The next day, he told me that he had told his wife that evening about our conversation, and she had responded, “Y’know, I’ve been thinking that we really ought to clean up our language, so let’s work on this together.” Then Steve produced an empty jar, which he proudly set on his desk. He announced to everyone that he was going to clean up his language, and he would thus insert a quarter into the jar every time he used a word of profanity. He asked that we all hold him accountable. As you can imagine, some in the office were more than willing to remind him, and even egg him on, to see him toss those quarters into the jar. The funniest moments were when Steve, in mid-sentence, would fish for a quarter in his pocket, shove it into the jar, then proceed with the four-letter word he just couldn’t wait to say.
That was a couple years ago. Steve doesn’t need the jar on his desk anymore; his language is quite different than it was then. Whenever Steve would tell people that I “made” him clean up his act, I reminded him that I didn’t ask him to give up all profanity; all I requested was that he not use the Lord’s name in vain, around me, and he took it much further than that.
It takes courage to do Matthew 18:15, but with prayer and preparation, it is powerful enough to “work” even with non-believers.
Anne Bachle Fifer
Grand Rapids, MI
God will bless and finish the full circle of forgiveness
Our church last year went through the Peacemaker DVD series. I thought I knew a lot about what the Word teaches about forgiveness…
Once we began to study and learned about some key skills in forgiveness I began to search my heart for possible unforgiveness in my life. I realized I was still holding hurts from a very tense experience with a family member. They left our church and in turn spoke very negatively toward my husband and I. It was hard to forgive, but I determined I would not be in bondage to unforgiveness. God has forgiven me of my sins so how could I not forgive another? I forgave and in turn my husband has allowed God’s healing touch on his heart too. I felt such a powerfully peace after I forgave. We later took in this family member’s child and helped out in a way I never imagined we would. We began to see the full picture of this family member’s struggles and we have prayed continuously together with her daughter and we trust God to bring complete healing in due time. The answers and solutions are not fully accomplished, but God will bless and finish the full circle of forgiveness in His time.
Thanks for helping us see ourselves in God’s Word as we are and we strive toward what He wishes us to become!
Looking for a specialty light bulb, I stopped in at a local lighting store. The salespeople were busy, so I decided to look for a small lamp for my bathroom counter. I spotted one possibility and picked it up to check the price. The glass shade immediately fell backward to the floor and shattered. Uh-oh. Then I read the price. It turns out the glass shade was made of Irish fine china, and the lamp’s price was $110! Double uh-oh.
As soon as a salesperson was free, I took her over to the lamp and showed her what had happened. I apologized and offered to pay for the lampshade. She said she’d have to check with the manager about what to do, but he wouldn’t be in until Monday. I went over to the counter, borrowed a pen and paper, and began to write a note to him. I whipped through the 7As of Confession in my mind and quickly realized the most important one was “avoid”.
Now this is what I desperately wanted to say to the saleswoman and the manager:
- IF the lamp hadn’t been displayed on a waist-high pedestal, where it tantalized the shopper and begged to be picked up,
- IF the lampshade had been firmly attached,
- IF such an expensive piece hadn’t been set out in the middle of a crowded room,
- THEN the lampshade would not have broken.
But using “avoid” as the key concept, I wrote a note saying that I broke the lampshade, I was very sorry, I expected to pay for the cost of a new shade, and I regretted the inconvenience to them of having to order a replacement. I added my name and phone number and gave the note to the saleswoman. It turns out that my specialty light bulb was going to be much more expensive than planned.
A week went by and I didn’t hear anything. Then two weeks passed with no contact from the store, though the issue remained on my mind. I wanted some resolution. In the third week, finally, there was a call from the manager. He acknowledged the breakage and said that there were frequent accidents in the store. He thanked me for leaving him a note. He said that it was unusual for someone to take such complete responsibility, and he added that for me there would be no charge. Wow! I didn’t argue with him.
I presume that most people offer to pay for items that they break. But how often do we also try to explain why we broke them? I’ve learned that when an apology includes IF, BUT or MAYBE, it is not an apology.
Carole Lee Smith
This ministry ROCKS!
WOW! Just finished the 4th, 5th, and 6th sessions of Personal Peacemaking. As I was walking into the church last night, if you had told me that by the end of the evening, I’d be compelled to write a letter to my ex-husband and going through the 7 A’s, I would have grunted, groaned, rolled my eyes, and vehemently denied what you said and continued to “justify” why I filed for divorce. Well, what a difference 3 sessions can make! The divorce took place in 1982 and I desire to write the letter, by hand even. This is so freeing after 25 years! Then, as I prayed later that night, God laid it on my heart to write my son, too, and go through the 7 A’s concerning the divorce. He is now 27. THANK YOU for taking the logs out of my eyes and giving me God’s guidance and direction to want to do this. This ministry ROCKS!
UPDATE: Donna followed up with an e-mail permitting her name be used and saying she had 3 people come to thank her as they felt compelled to write their own letters after she shared her story during one of the training sessions. She is anxious to attend the 3rd level of training as they put into practice what they’ve learned up to this point. Rejoice with us as God continues to use peacemaking testimonies for His glory!
One of my earliest cases was a sticky pending divorce
In the late 1990’s I began my training with the Institute for Christian Conciliation. I soon learned that much of the training was more about me than it was about others. As I progressed listening to tapes and reading the materials, I found myself moving through the levels of Peacemaking Certification.
Cornerstone Clinic Medical and Counseling Center in Anchorage, Alaska invited me to hold my live casework in their facility. They invited me to be a part of their counseling staff meetings. This permitted me to sit in on weekly meetings and to review cases that were presented by other counselors. Directly related to this experience, I find myself serving as a Chaplain to the Veteran’s Medical Center in American Lake (Tacoma), Washington. My primary assignment is in the Psychiatric Lock Down Unit.
In between the training and today I continue to mediate casework. The most recent case involved three people over the Christmas holiday. Two of these people are brothers who have had issues since they were teenagers. I got an e-mail from one of them this week (second week of January, 2007). The e-mail tells of how pleased he is for having taken part in the mediation. He says that they have a much better understanding of each other and are communicating in a direct, forthright way for the first time in many years. He is also looking at the prospect of Peacemaker Ministries’ training.
One of my earliest cases was a sticky pending divorce. I was asked to mediate the agreement. I consulted with Gary Friesen of Peacemaker Ministries and he advised that I may mediate, because the couple may change their mind about the divorce or the husband may become a Christian in the process. Being biblically based, Peacemaker Ministries does not agree with divorce but there is room for mediation in this setting.
The husband, wife, and I prepared a document to be filed with the court and the morning following, he stated he wanted to see an attorney to have it re-worded and he also wanted the attorney to file it with the court. I agreed with him for the purpose of review. The attorney changed one thing in the agreement, which changed visitation for the children to not limit the husband’s attendance to days that he preferred to play golf. It turned out that one requirement for seeing the kids fell on his golf day every other weekend. He did not want to have to visit the children on his golf day. The attorney charged him $5,000 for this change and of course for counsel, filing, and completing the divorce.
The wife was relieved, as she was unequally yoked. She had given her life to Christ. The husband drank heavily and she was virtually an abused woman. He wanted the wife that he married, not a born again Christian. This is the only domestic mediation that I have worked where I believe there was no known “third party waiting in the wings” for one of the parties in the conciliation case.
I believe that this is my ninth year of working in Christian Conciliation. I use it frequently in the hospital, I do case work and I present it to churches when the opportunity arises. My wife Thelma is a retired teacher, and is very helpful to help administer my casework. She is present when I do a reconciliation or a presentation to a church.
Thank you so very much for making this material available.
I have been using the Young Peacemaker materials at our Bible study. Families bring their multi-aged children and we split into two groups. We have so enjoyed using this material! I photocopy the story at the beginning of the lesson and use it like a reader’s theatre, with parts for a narrator and characters. I have had the children role-play a number of times and have typed out the key principles in bold print to be handed out to the children for them to read. I try to have them involved as much as possible. In Lesson 11, I wrote out the various ways we do not communicate properly, and each child role-played what the word said. I have used the suggested Bible study passages to reinforce the lesson, and have often had the children break up into groups to find the answers and then we discuss them as a group. They have loved doing these studies, and I have so enjoyed using them. We have one more session, and then we will be finished. This study had it all and kept the attention of everyone. My hope and prayer is that some of this material sinks in to their hearts. I have learned so much by teaching it. Thank you so very much for making this material available.
I know that God will use me according to his plan.
My training in Peacemaking and Christian conciliation, along with my first annual meeting in Minneapolis, have made a tremendous difference in my personal life and in my relationship with God and Jesus. For the first time in my life I have come to realize and accept the Bible as a practical guide to living life — God’s way. When I returned from the church intervention training and the annual meeting, I met with my pastor, and we talked specifically about just how few Christians actually understand how to live their lives according to biblical principles. At that time he agreed to begin training the church leadership team and staff in becoming a Peacemaking Church after the holidays are over.
I have also shared many of the Peacemaking principles with my healing prayer group — who are amonog the most mature Christians in our church — and they are very excited about becoming Peacemakers themselves.
Finally, on a recent plane trip I was reading The Peacemaking Pastor. A young man sitting across the aisle asked me about the book, and we talked for about an hour about Peacemaker Ministries, the principles of the program and living biblically, the trainings and the certification program. It turned out that both he and his wife are children of ministers, and he was excited about taking the concept back to both of them.
I am about to enroll in the certification program and am excited to be able to continue my journey through this wonderful growth process. I know that God will use me according to his plan.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
God had broken through.
While all this happened more than two years ago, I received a card not long ago saying how wonderful things still were all this time later; the healing that God brought has stood the test of time.
I was asked to do a mediation between two senior teachers in a Christian school. I met with each of them individually a couple of times and they were both very pessimistic about any prospect of positive change. Our first joint meeting was very disheartening – they told their stories and brought back many painful memories and incidents, and by the end of it were right into their destructive behavior patterns. And yet, over time, as the process unfolded, change began to happen.
The turning point was when, for one session, I invited each of them to bring along something that represented what they wanted to bring into the mediation process. One of them brought a blank piece of paper, and to the amazement of the other said she was willing to put all behind her and start again. She then proceeded to read (because she wanted to get the words right) the most profound apology I have ever heard. She acknowledged specifically the wrongful conduct and the impact it had had on the other person and his family and work colleagues. She acknowledged how she had rationalized her behavior, and asked for his forgiveness. She committed to change. His shoulders slumped; the tension and strain fell away. We all had tears in our eyes. God had broken through.
It was still a hard journey from there to working through all the issues, but the tide had turned, and we never looked back. We walked through biblical principles for every area of their relationship, and they documented this and how they would go forward together. We went together to the school to meet with the Principal and Deputy to share what has happened, and the miraculous changes that have occurred. Each of them can hardly believe what has happened. And even more wonderful still is that, before the process, one of them had experienced significant personal difficulties and a real struggle and distance in their relationship with God. Going through the mediation process has unlocked this, and they now feel able to read their Bible again and let go of some of the anger and frustration with God, and become close to Him again. Praise God!
This has changed our marriage
I began my journey of Biblical peacemaking while dealing with a conflict in my church while serving on the church board. I had no idea at the time how my own life would be changed. In response to this conflict, I was asked to lead a peacemaking team at our church to study / investigate Biblical peacemaking and figure out how to apply it in our church. It seemed ironic to me at the time given that I grew up in a family that avoided conflict at all costs, but God had something more in store.
Over the past two years I have spent a lot of time studying this topic, but it has been in the past several months that God has really hit me with the personal changes I needed to make. I came to realize I often did not accept and admit my own part in conflicts when I felt the other person was more at fault. I also felt the need / responsibility to make sure that justice was done when it came to the other person.
Nowhere was this more evident than in my own marriage. I was well down the road of realizing this, but God really got my attention while attending the Peacemaker Conference this year. John Piper’s message hit me square between the eyes. Justice does have to be done – but not by me! Lay it down. I came to realize that I was wrong in my response and that I needed to take responsibility for my own part. As I learned in the Conflict Coaching Practicum that I attended, my cup is going to get bumped, but I am responsible for what spills out. I left the conference with a changed heart and a fresh perspective on peacemaking.
Up until this point, my wife had “tolerated” my involvement in Biblical peacemaking. She has had some bad experiences with conflict in the past and it made her really nervous that I was doing this, especially the thought that I might expect her to deal with some of those past conflicts. This tension was coming between us and not only was peacemaking not something we could share; it was itself a source of conflict. Here I was, leading a team of peacemakers and I couldn’t even bring this to my own marriage. I felt like a failure. I had tried numerous times to talk with her and explain why this was such a great thing, but it wasn’t working. “Peacemaking” was not bringing us together – it was coming between us.
Do you know what made the difference? It was when I changed. When I stopped talking about peacemaking and started living it! That was the turning point. Wow, isn’t that the case with the Gospel message, which is really what peacemaking is all about – living out the Gospel in our daily lives? I can talk with someone until I am blue in the face. But living it out in front of them so that they can see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ really does make a difference in people’s lives. It goes much further in getting people interested than my many words.
Well, I am happy to report that this has changed our marriage. Our marriage had been very good up to this point, but God has opened the door to a whole new way of interacting. My wife has embraced Biblical peacemaking and made it her own. Every week I am now hearing stories of how she has helped someone else deal with a conflict and she could probably now give more testimonies than me. And what a difference it has made in the daily conflicts of a marriage and family. Issues are being resolved much earlier and better and there is just a new softness in our interactions. And what a blessing it has been to see our children, on a regular basis, put these principles into practice. I am thrilled to see them starting out with these truths in their hearts and not have to undo all the bad habits I have had to undo learning this as an adult.
And the message I got from all of this is that it all starts with me. I may be well versed in all of the principles and can teach it to someone else, but am I living it for myself? It is such a natural human tendency to focus on what the other person has done. It is quite easy to point out to others where they have fallen short. It is quite another to live it out in my own life so that others can see it. And there is nothing more powerful than extending to someone else the grace that God has extended to me.
Oh, and as for my church, we just finished up a congregation-wide 12-week emphasis on Biblical peacemaking and have committed to making this part of the fabric and character of our church. It is changing the lives of many others in our church and we are very excited for the days to come. We have work yet to do, but God is good and is leading us in powerful ways.
I thank God for changing my heart and helping me to become a peacemaker and I thank you, Peacemaker Ministries, for your ministry that opened the door for God to work in me.
When I get really mad I have to go and calm down
I have been working on those booklets you gave me. There very fun and they help me understand different things every day. I read one on how sometimes when I get really mad I have to go and calm down by talking to someone or something, your books have been helping me understand a lot of things to do when I get upset. I really appreciate what you have done for me.
Melissa, 5th grade
**The booklets Melissa refers to are from the Young Peacemaker Series.
It works! It really does!
It all started when I was asked to mediate a conflict between two leaders within my home church. We spent 16 months working through coaching and mediation. At the same time I was also serving as the Recording Clerk of our Congregational Business Meetings (CBM). Due to serving in both positions at the same time, a “conflict of interest” eventually arose between the role of mediator and the position of Recording Clerk.
Then a conflict arose within the church itself and our denominational leadership intervened. It was very difficult as the Recording Clerk to submit to leadership authority when it was undefined at times due to denominational oversight during that same time period. Therefore, philosophical differences in how the minutes should be written became a source of conflict. Even in the midst of this difficulty, I remained very conscientious about the importance of submission and the objectivity in writing the minutes throughout my tenure in the position.
One evening after a CBM I was unofficially approached by a denominational leader and asked to consider resigning as the Recording Clerk. About 10 days later I received word that Rod, our Elder of Spiritual Life, and I would meet to discuss this request. I trusted Rod and waited to hear from him. I wanted to follow biblical principles and embrace the conflict rather than resign and take flight from it. I had learned through a previous conflict about 7 years earlier that embracing a conflict is being obedient to God’s Word.
Unfortunately, more than 4 months passed and no word came from Rod. In fact, there were times when we would pass each other in the church building and he would not even look at me nor speak to me. During those four months I waited and prayed. I also began to perceive that since I had not immediately resigned, but rather waited to work through the conflict, that the church leadership had moved from a desire to a demand to judgment to punishment. Based on Matthew 18:15, I approached Rod to initiate a meeting. I also sought conflict coaching from a trained reconciler and wise counsel from Christians whom I highly respected. I tried again to initiate a time to meet. No response.
The next CBM was fast approaching. After much prayer and wise counsel, I wrote my resignation letter effective the end of the year, a letter to my denominational leadership, and a brief note to Rod initiating mediation. Obviously step one of Matthew 5 &18 – a face to face meeting – was impossible at that point.
Ironically, as soon as I initiated mediation, I received a brief email message from Rod – telling me how sorry he was for not getting together. He wanted to get together ASAP and talk. However, that was impossible due to schedules and CBM was approaching in a matter of hours.
Our paths crossed about 30 minutes prior to CBM. He was very genuine in his confession for not getting together to work through the conflict. However, I was not ready to forgive. As one who has minimal mediation training and one who has studied the biblical principles of Matthew 18, the knowledge was there, but the heart was not ready to forgive. We did agree to get together and to mediation.
Due to schedules, it was exactly four weeks later when we sat across the table from one another in a mediation session. During those four weeks the Lord worked within my heart. One of the Scripture references that He kept bringing to my mind was Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” By the time we met, I was ready to forgive Rod – not getting together to dialogue had created a “new” conflict between us – and I knew that needed to be reconciled and resolved first.
One of the benefits of mediation was allowing a neutral individual to assist us in the dialogue process. Having minimal mediation training could have been overpowering as I met with Rod who had no mediation training. The mediator took us to the throne of grace, to the Word of God, and helped us focus clearly on the cross, where we were on level ground before Almighty God. The mediator also laid important ground rules that enabled us to be 100% open with one another and listen to one another, knowing that the details would remain confidential unless agreed upon otherwise.
Since I initiated the mediation process, I was allowed to go first with my story. Before I began my story, I confessed my heart of unforgiveness, read from Colossians 3:13, and then forgave Rod for not getting together earlier. It was tense, but breathing grace at that point in the meeting allowed for the barriers to begin falling.
We spent 2 ½ hours that first night with the mediator – pouring out our hearts to one another. We clearly laid the personal and substantial issues on the table – and God began to work within our hearts. I firmly believe that we were completely reconciled that first night, though there were still substantial issues that needed to be discussed and resolved. In fact there was one point in the meeting when I sensed that both of us felt at the same time “we didn’t need to be here – we could have reconciled and resolved the initial conflict months earlier.” And Rod confessed to me that the reason he would avoid looking at me and speaking to me when our paths crossed was because he was embarrassed that he hadn’t gotten together with me yet. The mediator was so pleased with the process, that he gave us some homework and encouraged us to continue meeting on our own – remaining accountable to him by phone.
We met six days later for another 2½ hours and finished discussing the substantial issues. One week later we sat down for about 30 minutes and signed an agreement outlining the steps that we needed to take to address others affected by the conflict and/or to resolve issues. With the exception of a couple of items, all steps were completed in about 2 ½ months. During that time we met briefly as part of our accountability to one another and to keep informed as to where we were in the agreement process. One Sunday morning after worship we took a moment to sign off on the last item. What relief and release! What praise to Almighty God!
· the release that was evident in both of our lives the Sunday after we met in mediation. It was evident in our
worship how much had been released from our hearts as we were reconciled.
· the ability to dialogue on issues and concerns within the church body. We are now able to work together.
· the ability to share on a personal level as a brother and sister in Christ.
Not only have I been changed through this process – I have also seen a major change in his life. Both of our lives, as well as the Body of Christ, benefited because we followed the biblical principles of mediation.
Recently I shared this testimony while facilitating the Peacemaker Church Seminar – it was the first time I had shared openly – and I cannot begin to explain how it felt to give the glory to God for the work He did within my life – within our lives – within the church – because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the resurrection working in our hearts through this process. It works! It really does!
God was already at work in her heart
For a year and a half, our church has provided a weekly ministry to provide counsel and prayer and give a bag of groceries in the effort to support folks going through financial difficulty. Sometimes this reality creates tension. My first Peacemaker experience came in a frantic email from Kristy, the ministry’s coordinator at our church and an extremely capable leader. She had a situation and needed help quickly.
I was out of town that week and it was too late at night to call her so I replied to her by email. The next morning she and I prayed, and then talked over the phone.
Kristy needed some basic and practical peacemaking tools in this situation. She was looking for a little assistance and some encouragement in how to talk with this client whose circumstances had lead her to react and Kristy was the target.
In reflection, Kristy looks back on her initial email to me and says, “I was desperate. I needed something to have in my hands; I needed some basic steps in how to deal with this confrontation.” God used me to bring clarity to how she could handle the situation and I encouraged her with one of the Peacemaker’s simple, but powerful principles: “Glorify God”. Kristy was inspired by 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or dink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Of my follow-up email and our phone conversation, Kristy says “it was calming because the Peacemaker’s process was practical.” God was already at work in her heart and she was able to glorify God with the client, pray with her, read the passage and provide practical application from what she had learned that morning in our conversation.
God’s word seems to have a “settling down” effect on people. It did on Kristy and it does on me. And guess what? It had the same effect on the client and the client was inspired. The best news is the client and Kristy’s relationship was enhanced because both spoke from their heart in that honest conversation. Both were touched and God was glorified on all sides.
God demonstrated to me that Christian Conciliation works
God demonstrated to me that Christian Conciliation works everywhere even without the Christian Conciliation label.
I mediated a major corporate employment dispute a while ago and expected a very long day, no agreement, very little information exchange, at least four attorneys and a lot of anger management. The mediation was held at a major law firm. The night before, I prayed, Lord how should I handle these litigators? He answered, “My way”. I arrived early and walked and prayed over all of the rooms, over every chair and all of the materials and forms.
The employee-party arrived first. She was alone. No attorney. Next, the entire company Human Resource and legal staffs arrived.
God did his work during each caucas. Hearts were changed. The name Jesus never came up, scripture was not read but the principles of scripture were referred to regarding character and the importance of truth and doing the right thing.
At the end, the employee apologized for disappointing the company, admitted her wrong. Seeing her humility, the company forgave all the debts, paid some personal expenses for her, gave her a letter of recommendation for a new opportunity and thanked her for her service for a considerable number of years. As the agreement was signed, there was not a dry eye in the place, even the lawyers were crying. Jesus can work anywhere. The question is, will we allow him. Never put limits on the power of God love and how he can work through anyone anywhere for his glory. She is no longer an employee with the company, but in leaving a staff member said, we will still see you at the Christmas buffet, right? She smiled.
We have enjoyed leading “Peacemaker” small groups,
My husband and I are big believers in the biblical principles of peacemaking. We have enjoyed leading “Peacemaker” small groups, reading the books, working through the material with our kids (again and again!) and going to the national conference.
I was recently given a copy of Choosing Forgivenss by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. What a wonderful compliment to all we have learned in The Peacemaker! While reading it my dear in-laws came to visit. I prayed about lovingly talking with my 85-year-old mother-in-law about the resentment and bitterness I have witnessed over the years that she has displayed towards her younger sister. I gave her my book to read on the plane home. She called that very week about an encounter in her Sunday School class. She had been bitter towards a woman and had purposed in her heart to forgive her (not saying a word but choosing to react differently) and start over. Their encounter was incredibly blessed by God as my mother-in-law saw the power of forgiveness.
We are spending Christmas with our extended family; we eagerly await what the Lord has in store as my mother-in-law and her sister spend extended time together. Do pray that God would do a mighty work in and through them for His glory.
My ego often gets in the way of being a peacemaker
My ego often gets in the way of being a peacemaker. I want people to like me. When they act or say something that makes me feel depreciated, my ego tells me to straighten them out – to correct their wrong attitudes toward me. I am hurt. My ego is wounded.
Through peacemaking I am learning that such conflict is an opportunity to glorify God by choosing to grow personally – to humble myself (the opposite of egotism).
This means my first response is to open myself to God by asking, “What is the log in my own eye?” His word and the wise counsel of others will help me. Then, to approach the other person in this conflict asking them to help me learn from what my perception is, of what happened.
I have been a Christ Follower for over 6 decades. I am still learning how to live in humility and conflict keeps providing me with opportunities. Skills I continue to learn through peacemaking training are tools God is using in my life.
The outcome was beyond expectation.
On September 8-9, 2006 I was involved in a conciliation in Auckland, New Zealand. I was one of the parties.
I had been a pastor in this one church for 17 years. In the final two years I found myself in such a serious dispute with the elders that I resigned at the end of 2003.
My wife and I went overseas for 32 months, knowing there had been no resolution. When we returned to New Zealand in August 2006 we immediately took steps to set up a conciliation with the three elders and their wives.
They all attended, still feeling the estrangement and keen need for resolution. One elder was very skeptical and did not believe it would work. A Certified Christian Conciliator guided us through the process over a Friday evening and Saturday.
The outcome was beyond expectation. There were tears, confessions, repentance and forgiveness granted by all eight parties. The gospel works even in New Zealand!! Furthermore they were able to recommend us to the new ministries God was opening up for us in the city.
We were wonderfully reconciled – two weeks later my wife and I were able to attend the 20th anniversary of the church. The elders and their wives were there, and we had wonderful fellowship together.
The elder who had been most doubtful was most excited about the outcome. He had not believed it would work, and thought the outcome was “just wonderful”.
Some weeks later they all came to our daughter’s wedding and we enjoyed again the fruits of the Gospel work as we chatted and laughed together, all barriers of resentment having been swept away.
Praise to God for the power of his Gospel!
Auckland, New Zealand