Peacemaking is something which needs to be practiced to stay alive! And it’s a journey which is best done with others.
For this reason, PeaceWise continues to work at ways of helping you to get involved, not only with PeaceWise but also with others who are interested in being peacemakers and who see the power of building cultures of peace.
There are so many great ways for you to become part of the PeaceWise community and keep growing in learning to use biblical peacemaking principles in many areas of your life. Here are some…
Gäwa Christian School’s amazing story of bringing peacemaking into an indigenous context and providing help to an isolated community
Gäwa Christian School is part of a remote indigenous community on Elcho Island at the very top of the NT.
There are significant challenges in a small community where there is little or no separation between the various aspects of life.
There’s the promise of rich, shared experiences and the formation of close relationships. But there’s also the ever-present possibility of misunderstanding, offence and lasting relational damage.
When you add remoteness and cross-cultural challenges into the mix, the reality is that damaging conflict lurks close by. Where do you go when that happens? Often there seems little choice other than to withdraw or leave!
Enter our NT Director, Geoff Bateman, who sent our National Director, Bruce Burgess, an urgent email asking if we could immediately respond to a request to provide training to Gäwa Christian School.
We saw a window of opportunity to offer this community a different and life-giving alternative to the destructive spiral of conflict that such communities often face. But it needed to be with a significant reduction to our normal fees. Could we do it? Thankfully, with the help of generous PeaceWise supporters we could say ‘YES’ – and that’s what we did!
And so it was that Phoebe van Bentum, who generously gifted PeaceWise her time, and whose travel and salary was also kindly provided by the NT Christian Schools, was able to spend an unforgettable time with the teachers and other staff at Gäwa… sharing the life-giving principles of biblical peacemaking with them to use in their lives and the indigenous community that they serve.
As the day unfolded, it became incredibly clear that this course was part of God’s plan for each individual staff member at Gäwa as well as for the school community. The nature of the small-group setting allowed for extraordinary discussion. What unfolded was a day of really honest and deep conversations and interaction with the material.
During the day we had Gotha – the Warramiri elder who was instrumental in the setting up of the school and community – join us for a period of time. This was quite simply profound! Gotha joined us as we discussed the slippery slope and helped us as we ‘got creative’ in demonstrating a bad way to respond to conflict and a better way to respond.
Gotha led her team through their creative piece by explaining a Yolŋu story of how the fresh water moves through the land. The interaction and relationship between the Personal Peacemaking principles and the conflict-resolution stories of the Yolŋu culture is clear evidence of God’s redeeming work across all languages and cultures.
Gotha pronounced the Personal Peacemaking course to be ‘Manymuk – very good’ in the way that it addressed issues of conflict resolution. She took away the book and the Slippery Slope cards, wanting to translate them into Yolŋu Matha. I travelled back on the plane with Gotha and she was carrying the book with her at the airport and speaking to everyone she believed to be important about the course and how good it is!
The power of PeaceWise’s gospel-embedded training is that it is both preventative and remedial. And it plays a key role in personal faith development as well. To be able to offer this sort of empowering training to areas that are often excluded by distance, culture and cost is truly ‘a demonstration of the gospel in action’!
But this isn’t just about Gäwa. It’s about every Australian country town, every marginalised group, every struggling congregation and every hurting family. And it’s why we are so thrilled to be sharing the gospel of peace across this nation of ours, which so desperately is in need of the Prince of Peace.
Mal Sercombe – how peacemaking helps me as a pastor
Mal Sercombe is Senior Pastor of Darwin Baptist Church. Thanks to a scholarship provided by some generous PeaceWise supporters, he was recently able to attend Personal Peacemaking, Conflict Coaching and Mediation training over five days. Here are his reflections…
“If I’d realised how beneficial PeaceWise training was going to be I’d have done it a whole lot sooner. With a biblical perspective and immediate application to ministry it is some of the most valuable training I’ve done. So much so that I’ve given books to other pastors in our city, encouraging them to pursue PeaceWise training.
“Like many (most) other pastors, I’m called upon to work with people in conflict – in families, workplaces and churches and some of these situations are extremely challenging. PeaceWise hasn’t made me an ‘instant expert’ but it has definitely given me some useful tools to work with and more importantly, a frame of reference with which to approach confl ict. There is much more to learn and I’m looking forward to doing advanced courses.
“I think the PeaceWise approach is important because it’s much more than just addressing confl icts. PeaceWise is about actively and intentionally building cultures of peace: communities of people for whom the pursuit of peace is a hard-wired default position. I’m inspired by the possibilities as I help our church family embrace a peacemaking mindset.
“My introduction to PeaceWise training was made possible by generous sponsorship which greatly reduced the cost. I’m so grateful to those who have made this investment.”
Today, Sarah and Chris* are working on restoring their marriage. They are going on dates again, they are sharing their lives with each other and they are rediscovering the depth of love which drew them together when they first met. But not so long ago, things were very different.
Sarah and Chris came to PeaceWise in crisis. They were each so convinced that their marriage was over and could not be saved that they had brought in the lawyers. There had been long-term hurt, and a breakdown in trust. How could anything change? Thanks to your prayers and support, PeaceWise was able to begin a process of intense conflict coaching and Christian mediation with them. We encouraged both parties to let God work in the deep places of their heart to reveal those ‘heart idols’ which had got in the way of their relationship with each other and with God.
And miraculously, through much pain, they were able to confess their wrongs and hurts to each other, and to forgive each other. They were able to confess to God, and to know the power and comfort of his forgiveness, made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection – the greatest gift given by God to show his love for us (John 3:16, 1 Peter 2:24). And they were able to put in place a plan to restore their marriage!
Someone close to you might be struggling today… maybe in their marriage, maybe with parents, children or in-laws or maybe in some other kind of conflict. In situations like these, you can often lose hope. But not our God. In the midst of even the worst of conflicts, our God is there. Ours is the God who promises Joshua before the Israelites enter Canaan, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Ours is the God who says to the Egyptian servant Hagar who had been mistreated and cast out, “I see you, I care for you, I will bless you” (see Genesis 16). With God, there is always hope, for the Bible promises us, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
PeaceWise exists to share that hope and the gift of peace through biblical principles and the power of Christ, and to teach others how to do the same. Thank you for your partnership in this ministry!
* not their real names
Share your story
We would love to hear your story of how you’ve used peacemaking in your life, or how God has worked in a conflict situation you’ve been involved in or seen