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Working for Peace in Northern Iraq

Posted by Ryan Hall

By John McMahon

On 22 September, Supporters of Idaho Peace Coalition & Pace e Bene’s Campaign Nonviolence 2016 attended a poignant remembering by Pastor Marc Schlegel-Preheim & his wife Jenna, at Boise’s Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship on their recent visit to Kurdish territory in Northern Iraq.

This narration cannot adequately express feelings we experience around what is going on in Iraq, Syria and other places where civil-sectarian wars are raging; where wholly innocent people are dying; where Mothers and Fathers, Sisters and Brothers are whaling and screaming in deep sorrowful and pitiable anguish… Our Children are still begging for Bread! Rakkah!! Enough of the stones!

About Boise’s Congregation, Pastor Marc states, “It is a community of faith that is both casual and passionate; a community always seeking to discern for where God is moving in us, and through us, and with where – calling us into deeper relationship. It is my deep conviction that God is continually inviting us to join in the work of bringing about a more loving, peaceful, just, and sustainable world. We want to be part of that work.”

That Marc and Jenna are “part of that work” is borne-out in the talk they gave describing their experiences living and sharing with the People of Northern Iraq. They made no claims on ‘being experts’ and had no agenda other than to respectfully observe, listen and share with their hosts a desire to live peaceably with their families, friends and neighbors. The Kurds in Iraq of whichever religious sect, teach their children that they are of God and there can be no separation; that culturally they are simply Kurds.

Marc and Jenna took turns narrating their remembering. That alone sets an example of the inclusiveness to which we can aspire. Each spoke quietly and reflectively of the people they lived with; who shared everything they had with them. There may have been Epiphany moments for us  as we searched our hearts for the compassion, caring, forgiveness and Love that Jesus, and those ‘Other’ Holy Teachers have given us. When we are being still, we can know what is meant by “God alone is Good.”

In these deeply troubling and uncertain times we must live to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated. We must come to the conclusion that there are alternatives to violence; that as we look at our fellow human beings it is like seeing a bit of ourselves. We mirror each other in behavior and attitude. It is good to smile on seeing all our relations in the mirror.

See photos below.

Photo Credit: John C. McMahon and Graphics from Marc and Jenna’s Presentation

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