Understanding the past, allows progression toward the future

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, during a press conferene at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea on November 7, 2013.

BUSAN, South Korea - Leaders of churches and associated groups shared stories, images, song and signs of hope toward the mission to Justice and Peace.

Presenters shared their own personal struggles of injustice and indifference, as well as their insights on the struggles occurring in their own nations, during the Peace Plenary on the second last day of the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly.

"In this session of the peace plenary, we want to understand the need for a deeper need of perseverance, when we deal with the issues of peace," Rev. Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town stated during the peace plenary in Busan, South Korea.

Leymah Gbowee, Liberian social worker, women's rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 2011 shared her story on why she became a peace activist.

"I have a lot of anger in me that started when I was 17 years of age; I grew up in a community, and when I say a community, I mean where everyone cared about each other and each other's child

"I grew up knowing everyone was the same, and then all of a sudden we went to war and everything I grew up believing, vanished

"I do have anger in me for my world being turned upside down, but I realized whenever I interact with people who suffer, something locks inside me, and then the anger goes away, or else the anger increases, but not in a negative way where I want to get back at them, but in a way that makes me want to change the issues," Gbowee said.

Dr. Chang Yoon Jae, professor of theology at Ewha Women's University in Seoul, South Korea, was given the opportunity to share the issues that bothered him.

He shared with the audience how even though the Korean War ended on July 27, 1953, six decades later, the two Koreas remain in the war.

The war was never permanently resolved in a peace treaty.

"A war could break out again at any time; I don't want this constant fear of war anymore; 60 years is enough. 60 years of civil peace is enough, now Koreans need a prominent peace for Korea. In order to stop the dangerous life outside of us, we have to start a light of peace inside us," Jae said.

Gbowee added we must know the past in order to make change toward the future.

"In order for all of us to pursue peace, we must go back to our countries history and open up a book; in order for us to move to peace, we must look at the pattern in the past and see the trends that we must take out

"I tell people to forgive, and to offer forgiveness; sometimes we must step up and ask for forgiveness first, and then after forgiving ourselves, we can then forgive others, including our political leaders," Gbowee noted.

Fabian Corracles, an interdisciplinary scholar in disabilities studies in the graduate school of the University of Costa Rica shared during the plenary that he was deaf and could not physically hear others, but he still listens.

"A church of God, a God of action, I want you to look at me, and I want you to look beyond my disability. I want you to look beyond what makes me different

"Regardless if I cannot hear you, I listen," Corracles said.

Stanley J. Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, based in Elgin, Illinois, explained we must love our brothers, sisters and our enemies.

"There is a phrase that was said in the early 21st century, and the phrase has stuck around; many people see this statement on bumper stickers, all throughout the world.

"When Jesus said love you enemies, I think he probably meant 'don't kill them', but I say 'When Jesus said love you enemies, I 'believe' he meant don't kill them, 'I believe' he meant don't kill them," Noffsinger stated.

The path of the plenary was to guide Christians toward justice and peace, as one goal, but to go in different pathways of life. This invited a collective challenge for church members to follow for God's vision of peace, justice, and unity.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News