IRAQ REFLECTION: Surrendering the pieces

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CPTnet
23 December 2010
IRAQ REFLECTION: Surrendering the pieces


by Tiffany Aurora

[Note: The following reflection by a member of the 14-27 October CPT delegation
to Iraq has been edited for length.  The complete version is available at https://www.cpt.org/blog/2010/10/20/delegation-northern-iraq-october-14-27-2010]

This autumn, as our delegation visited families in villages tucked away in the
mountains along the Iranian border, we heard stories of how violence brought
about by bombs, land mines, guns, and forced displacement had forever changed
their lives.  They long for a day
when they can walk outside their house to a plot of farmland instead of a fenced-off
field of land mines.  They long for
a day when they can leave a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and go
home without fear that any house they build or produce they grow will be
bombed.

We loved meeting these families.  We
loved learning about their joys and sorrows.  And we were all struck with the complexity of the problems in
the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. There has been such a history of violence
and there is so much distrust here.  It’s hard to know where to begin promoting peace and
reconciliation.

While the complexities can seem overwhelming, Scripture is full of stories of
God protecting his people, providing solutions to problems that seemed
overwhelming.  He often chose to
provide this protection in really creative ways.

Humans forget that God is all-powerful and that the hearts of individuals,
government leaders, and military commanders are ultimately subject to him.  In working to undo the effects of
violence or helping to facilitate the healing process, it is tempting to forget
that reconciliation can only happen when God reaches down and touches lives.  Any of our efforts apart from the work
of God will be flawed and inadequate.

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul calls on the church to
accept persecution, and reminds his fellow believers, “Our struggle is not
against flesh and blood…but against the spiritual forces of evil.” In
other words, “If it bleeds, it’s not your enemy.”  If we are
going to “get in the way” of violence, we have to remember that our
enemy is not one made of flesh and blood.  We also have to remember that the only way to stop cyclical,
systemic violence is through God reaching down and changing hearts. 

The situation here involves a conglomerate of ethnicities, national boundaries,
religions, languages, political parties, economic challenges, urban vs. rural
discrepancies and distrust between the different groups.  But let us not think that the situation
is beyond the hand of our Almighty God. Maybe he doesn’t want us to be able to
boast “that our own strength has saved us.”  Maybe He is waiting for us to open our
hands, surrender all the pieces, and be willing to respond to his creative
resolution with a faith that maintains the nonviolent consistency of Jesus.

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