Christ United Presbyterian Church
Salaam, Shalom, Peace
I recently returned from a two-week pilgrimage in the Holy Land with a diverse group of pastors from the U.S. My heart is filled with images and sense memories of sacred places around the Galilee and Jerusalem. Two weeks is of course not enough time to begin to see or understand all the wonders of this beautiful land. In addition to seeing holy places, we were given the gift of meeting people from many backgrounds and hearing their dreams and visions for peace and stability in this ancient deeply divided land.
Kids4peace is one of the groups working in the Holy Land to create a culture that respects people of other faiths. Their vision is "Abraham's Children Living Together in Peace." Begun in 2001, Kids 4Peace is a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, nonpolitical education for peace organization. The programs focus is on Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious communities in the United States and the Jerusalem area, including Ramallah and Bethlehem. Intentionally diverse groups of children and parents meet every two weeks for three hours; summers are spent together and friendships are made across dividing lines of religion and culture.
We met Yakir Englander, the director of Kids4peace Jerusalem, who also serves in the Israeli military reserves. After three years of active military service, he understood that aggression and power were not the right answer to the security concerns of Israelis. He is passionate about building a sustainable culture of peace among people who now live every day with fear and pain.
On the website kid4peaceusa.org the vision of this faithful international group states: "Imagine a place in the Middle East, in the midst of daily violence and fear, where the children of Israel and Palestine, the kids of the Holy Land, can feel safe. Imagine an open place, where Christian, Jewish and Muslim children can speak from their hearts and tell their stories.
A place where their faces may be seen and their voices may be heard.
Imagine a place where the children of the United States can discover
the common heritage they share with the children of the Middle East.
Imagine a place in which children learn respect, tolerance and understanding.
Imagine a world in which these children become the leaders of the future.
True to their commitment to "faith in peace," Kids4Peace children and staff demonstrate great courage in the midst of conflict - refusing to be enemies, choosing to be friends.
Imagine also, Jewish, Muslim and Christian kids from the United States becoming friends with kids from the Holy Land - currently K4P has groups in Atlanta, Vermont, Boston and North Carolina. Imagine if we began something like this in southwestern Minnesota and Marshall, bringing together parents as well as children in our increasingly diverse area.
The kids have a cheer they use wherever in the world they gather.
We are kids4peace- Mighty, mighty kids4peace! Tired of the fighting - Time to do the right thing! We can do it better! We can live together! Salaam! Shalom! Peace!