The Red Couch: Mending the Divides Introduction

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The roar of a mob of students fills my ears as I try to read. I walk over to my window to watch the protestors filing down the street carrying signs and chanting slogans about corrupt governments and unsafe roads. This isn’t an unusual occurrence. In our sprawling city, protests often shut down the roads for days and remind us of the conflict raging all around us. Some days it can feel overwhelming. Where is my voice in the din? I don’t belong on the streets with the local students. Do I have a say at all? Can there ever be peace?

Living in a majority Muslim country, some might think I live in a place that sees more conflict than most. I am not sure anymore. I see just as much conflict these days on my computer screen, from the voices in my home country, in the news coming out of Western culture. As I sat down to read Mending the Divides: Creating Love in a Conflicted World my heart ached with the truth of Lynne Hybel’s words in the introduction describing my own home country as one “increasingly polarized into divisive factions, even at war with itself.”

I wanted to read Mending the Divides because of the increasing conflict I see in the world and my adjacent feelings of powerlessness. What can I possibly do to help? I knew the authors, Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart, to be the founders of the Global Immersion Project. Through peacemaking workshops, webinars, and immersion trips their organization seeks to train individuals and organizations how to be everyday peacemakers in the world.

But peace—really? How can we have any part in such a lofty concept? By framing peacemaking as not another project or special calling for some but part of discipleship and a way of life, Huckins and Swigart call each of us to become everyday peacemakers in some way. It’s all part of God’s heart for all of humanity, after all: “God’s mission is the redemption of all things—broken lives, broken relationships, and broken systems.”

The authors tell their journeys into the role of peacemaker through the lens of their own personal associations with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the hotly debated immigration situation at the US-Mexico border.

Huckins and Swigart unpack a definition of peace that flies in the face of what I, and probably many of us, have always imagined it to be. Growing up in a home where keeping the peace meant avoiding conflict, I have always thought peace to be the absence of conflict. They assert that: “Rather than the absence of conflict and presence of justice, peace is the abundance of wholeness, completeness, and fullness that emerges on the other side of holistically repaired, formerly severed relationships.”

Equipped with a holistic and much more robust view of what peace looks like and why God calls us to be a part of restoration, the authors go on to give practical steps for people to start where they are to be a part of healing interpersonal conflict, local injustice, and international conflict. I found the book to be equal parts theology, inspiration, and application.

If you are anything like me, big concepts like peace overwhelm you and if you can’t do it all, you feel frozen and unable to do anything. I expected to feel this way reading about people giving their entire lives to serving the deported in Tijuana or the forgotten Palestinians of Bethany. Instead, I felt convicted to see how everyday peacemaking is as much about transforming our own misconceptions, our own conflicts, and becoming vessels of redemption first in our own families and circles and then watching it radiate outward.

The authors ask us first to look inside ourselves to ask: “What has damaged our ability to see the humanity, dignity, and image of God in other people?” I invite you to ask yourself this question and see where God will take you on your own journey of peacemaking. I think you might be surprised that the work starts closer to home than you imagined.

Come back on Wednesday, Sept. 26 for our discussion post and join our Facebook group to discuss the book throughout the month.

 

Embrace: God’s Radical Shalom for a Divided World by Leroy Barber

Shalom Sisters: Living Wholeheartedly in a Broken World by Osheta Moore

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

Thomas Merton, Peacemaker by John Dear

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan

Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World by Sarah Quezada

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

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Nicole T Walters
Though my family’s roots run deep in the soil of the Southern United States I, along with my husband and our two little ones, am learning to love hot milk tea instead of sweet iced tea as we make our home in South Asia. I hope to help others create space to listen to God and others and to lead lives that love at A Voice in the Noise {nicoleTwalters.com}. I have authored essays in several books and my writing has appeared in places live CT Women, Relevant, and Ruminate. I am a regular contributor at here at SheLoves, The Mudroom, and READY Publication and am a member of the Redbud Writers Guild.
Nicole T Walters
Nicole T Walters

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