Indonesia 2022 gathering was my sixth year and my last event serving as chair of the Peace Commission of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC). I feel the joy of watching our team working together to see MWC embrace the Statement on Solidarity with the Indigenous People. For me, this is the most exciting part of the last 6 years serving with the Peace Commission. I have been blessed working with the women and men whom I learned to respect and love. I pray that MWC would continue to serve the Body of Christ; to serve the nations towards justice and peace; and, to serve as a healing body in the process of decolonization and reconciliation in this world.
Six years with MWC Peace Commission was a blessing
Working with the Peace Commission for 6 years expanded my views on different various justice-and-peace issues being faced by countries wherein our church serves. I saw many similarities in terms of resource based problems. In a deeper perspective, I learned that powerful nations and corporations, motivated by greed, manipulate the smaller and less powerful nations. I experienced how Mennonites from different parts of the world, and from different historical-cultural contexts, process the challenges that confront us as One Body. Seeking to be united in our hearts and minds as a peace loving community while searching for positive and more effective ways of encouraging local churches and their communities gave me a better view of Mennonite World Conference, my global circle of faith. As a person who lives among communities who are suffering, I’m encouraged to know, in my inner most being, that I belong a compassionate segment of the People of God.
As one given the privilege of serving as chair of the Peace Commission, I feel the joy of watching our team working together to see MWC embrace the Statement on Solidarity with the Indigenous People. For me, this is the most exciting part of the last 6 years serving with the Peace Commission.
Upon my exit, the Commission is still working on a statement of solidarity regarding conscription. This will be pursued until the 2028 global assembly in Ethiopia. I like the sensitive approach I observe among delegates at MWC in terms of power dynamics and cross-cultural dynamics. We do not rush decision-making or making a statement because we wanted to make sure that it is well-processed and would really represent the statement of the whole body of people seeking to live in harmony and seeking to demonstrate harmony in this world. I learned that we should not be afraid to make a statement to help our community, but also have to be patient until everybody understands why we make such statements and for what purpose.
I’m grateful for everyone who welcomed the idea of allowing me to serve with the Peace Commission.
PBCI-CFP is blessed to be a part of the global Mennonite community
It is a blessing to know that we, at PeaceBuilders Community and at Coffee for Peace, are a part of a global Mennonite community, primarily as a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada International Witness, and also as a part of the Integrated Mennonite Churches of the Philippines. We know we have a global family embracing us in pursuing justice-based peacebuilding. We know that we are part of a larger body. We are reminded that we are accountable for our words and actions. We belong to a spiritual organism and a systemic organization with whom we express love through mutual listening and through mutual amplification of voices, locally and globally.
We are blessed with the opportunity to connect and to build relationships with people, during community gatherings and through online connections. We praise the Creator for this ability to share and to learn with one another.
We are connected. We are not alone.
Significance of being part of MWC in our journey towards decolonization
In our global community of Mennonites, people coming from colonizer countries and colonized countries encounter each other — spiritually, cross-culturally, politically, economically. This is a beautiful, yet awkward, perhaps fragile, affirmation of our relationships in the Body of Christ. I pray that this would become a time and space for mutual healing.
I pray that this would become a time and space for us, people from the colonized countries, where we are free to express our inter-generational, traumatic experiences being nations and tribes violated by imperialism, which is energized by the Doctrine of Discovery. I pray that this would be a dialogical event where we can speak-in-love and where we can share how we are journeying towards healing. I pray that this would be a time and place where our siblings in Christ would really listen to our cries on how we are coping with redeeming ourselves as a people left with a land violently-desecrated and devastated by extraction and abuse of our natural environment and resources — the base of our life.
I pray that this would become a space for people coming from the colonizing countries to look back to the historical injustices their governments and corporations have done, energized by the Doctrine of Discovery. I pray that my sisters and brothers in Christ coming from these colonizing countries would come to a realization that their religious beliefs and systems were used as a “gift wrapper” to soften our peoples’ resolve to resist colonization. I pray that, like Nehemiah, they would ask for forgiveness for the sins of their ancestors. I pray that they would see how Christianity was co-opted by their colonizing governments and by the Christian missionaries who, wittingly or unwittingly, have wrongly justified colonization in the name of Christ.
I pray that the statement on Solidarity with Indigenous People becomes a functional start of the decolonization in the Body of Christ. I know that this will be a long process.
With a prayerful heart, with wisdom from above, I anticipate how this decolonizing process will unfold. May the deceptive “gift wrapper” of colonization be removed. May the liberating gift of God, the Prince of Peace, be unboxed in a new, transformed global and local realities.
May the Peace of Christ be upon us all!