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Tobacco Spitters at Cornerstone

Hello friends,

Four fellows slowly walked up to the Christian Peacemakers Team booth and spit tobacco on the ground as I asked, "Would you like to hear how we are working at reducing violence in conflict areas of the world?" They gruffly said, "Yeah."

I gave them the same talk I gave many times during Cornerstone Festival: "Here is CPTer Art Gish in Palestine in front of a tank that was about to run over the farmers' market behind him; he was able to save the farmers' market that day." I ended with, "Would you like some literature?" No, they didn't want any literature, as I thought.

One of them, who seemed to be the spokesman, proceeded to tell us, "I have been in Afghanistan. The Afghan people are really good people. I spent 15 hours a day with them, and I really got to know them. They were so glad we got rid of the Taliban, especially for the liberation of the women. We really helped that country."

I responded, "I agree those were good things that happened there. But what about the increase in drug production and the increase in bombing and terrorist activities in the last while? My contention is that using a gun just is not a way to a lasting peace. In the end it just does not work."

Their spokesman replied, "What do you think is the way?"

I answered, "The way of Jesus and the way of suffering love. Do you know what the Danes did when the Nazis invaded Denmark and said all the Jews must wear the Star of David? The king said, ‘I will wear a Star of David and I ask all Danes to do the same.' They did this, beginning a non-violent movement that saved virtually all of Denmark's Jews. This kind of thing happened in other places during WWII, but we don't hear much about it."

I continued, "I believe such ideas come from God. I believe God wants to give us nonviolent ways to confront violence. In Colombia the paramilitaries (paras) killed a woman whom they thought had killed one of their own, and later found they had made a mistake. There was so much violence happening that everyone was afraid even to retrieve the body. So a Pentecostal pastor, led by the Spirit, retrieved the body and buried it where the paras lived. Because the paras had to pass by the grave daily, it was a constant reminder to them of the awful mistake they had made. As a result, many of the paras stopped being paras and ever since then, the violence has been diminishing. Part of the answer lies in getting on our knees so we can hear the nonviolent actions God has for us."

I then asked again, "Sure you wouldn't like some literature?" He answered, "Well, ok," as they took a newsletter and walked away.

All during this conversation a fellow by the name of David in combat boots stood up close, listening intently. I'll tell you David's story in the next letter.

Shalom,

Jim

I give special thanks for finally being able, after two months of trying, to contact Cesar Garcia, head of the Mennonite Brethren in Colombia, about my working with them sharing about CPT peacemaking. He called me this morning (7/19). He had been out of the country and his computer was down. This finally clarifies what I will be doing in Colombia, which was up in the air until now. More about these exciting changes later. And thanks to all of you who prayed for me about this.

Here is of Shane Claiborne, whose tent was one of the most crowded of the Festival because of his fresh way of sharing the Gospel. He told how Timothy McVeigh wrote home during the first Gulf War saying he was turning into an animal. Shane said that Timothy McVeigh committed the Oklahoma City bombing to show Americans "collateral damage" on our own soil. Shane told about Bud Welch, one of the parents of a victim of the Oklahoma City bombing, trying to have Timothy's sentence commuted. Shane ended this story with the truth, "The closer we are to God, the less we want to cast a stone."

Jim Fitz

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