Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Mr President, Please Stop this Bloodbath You've Started

While campaigning for president just prior to the May 9th elections, the now President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte said, “All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you.” Sadly, this is a promise he’s not backing down on. Since the Election Day, over 800 drug-related killings have taken place.

While most of these killings have been committed by police (who claim the victims resisted), about 40% of the victims were killed my unidentified gunmen and many were brutally salvaged. Unfortunately, this comes by no surprise, as Duterte himself, after being elected, told the public in a televised speech, “Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have a gun. You have my support. You can kill him. Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.”

We at Peace Church lament, grieve and cry out for change. These extra-judicial killings of poverty-stricken drug users and dealers (wealthy drug users and dealers aren’t being killed) are tearing families apart, creating fear and distrust and not at all getting to the root of the drug problem. Politicians, the general public, and even Christian leaders are supporting Duterte’s War on Drugs. How can this be? Do we really value life that little that we can support this type of mass killing? And how can we allow anyone with a gun to decide who the criminal is? The injustice of it all just baffles me. I am still in shock that this brutal leader became President on a campaign that promised to kill.

Besides the injustice of president-sanctioned extra-judicial killings, the global War on Drugs itself, has recently been deemed ineffective. The UN is adopting a new framework on drug control, which puts people first. The Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said, “Putting people first means balanced approaches that are based on health and human rights, and promote the safety and security of all our societies. Drug policies must most of all protect the potential of young people and foster their healthy styles of life and safe development.” 

President Duterte, you’re fighting the wrong battle and you’re creating a cylce of violence in this country that’s now spinning madly. You're putting the entire justice system in the hands of corrupt police and civilians and calling for a bloodbath. Instead of caring for your constituents by addressing health and poverty issues, you're killing your people. Please stop now, for every single life matters.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

How to Create That Much Needed Village

I sadly keep hearing that my fellow mom friends back in Canada feel worn out and alone. As one article that’s circulating said, “It takes a village, but there are no villages.” Our friends are crying out for community, but they all seem to be in the same boat and are hardly able to help each other practically with watching kids or sharing the dinner-making load.

As I hear of these struggles, I can’t help look at my own life and realize I DO have a village- they’re in my home everyday! I think there’s no better way to create that village of shared parenting and housework than to plant a church in your home!

Besides hosting Peace Church gatherings at our house, our community is in and out of our house all week, especially the ones without children of their own. Today Fread was over for a meeting with Darnell, which also meant he played with the boys for a few hours and entertained all 3 kids while I made dinner. Yesterday Kathleen stayed the night and played with the kids while I did some laundry and then she did the dinner dishes for us while we put the kids to bed. Reg was here all weekend and read countless books to the kids and did dishes all weekend.

Friends at home are often surprised by how much I host, but I can honestly say that it doesn’t feel like “work” but actually means the parenting and household load is shared. It’s not a fancy type of hosting or “entertaining,” its just about continuously opening our home to all kinds of friends despite the messy house and tantruming children. It’s about making extra food at dinner in case a friend pops by but not apologizing for a messy kitchen!

It really does take a village to raise our kids and I am so thankful that we have that village here in our home- and more than the practical help they offer, I’m thankful for the friendships we have with these dear friends and the way our children are shaped by all the amazing big brothers and sisters who have become our family.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

A Tribute to Opa

It has been a month since Opa died and though I’ve wanted to post something about him, I have not had the words.  Sure, I’ve been busy travelling and dealing with sick kiddos and jet lag but in truth, I have just felt far too overwhelmed to write about him. How can I capture in a blog post- in mere words- the impact this man has had on my life and so many others? My words feel far too inadequate to tell the story of this most remarkable man. My feelings bubble over, but words, right now, just don’t.

But the words spoken at his memorial service by his six sons- oh my, those words were not only adequate, but beautiful, powerful, truthful and inspiring and really a most amazing tribute to a most amazing man. I guess it wasn’t just the words, but the men behind them….. watching my Dad and his brothers stand up front together to share his eulogy was incredible. Here are some highlights of their words:

 As Dad so vividly narrated in his book, his position on the issue of non-violence began to take shape while he was still in his German army uniform.

It was in the act of writing Living With Conviction that Dad was able to process thoroughly his participation in the war, fighting for his fatherland, but certainly not for the political party in power.

And in the ashes of defeat,
Dad was able to find some answers.

They would come, gradually, as he rediscovered Anabaptist teachings of non-violence, which the German Mennonite church had largely abandoned.

So many of us here today have been significantly impacted and influenced by his journey and convictions.

He has given a younger generation fresh hope for a different way of dealing with conflict – and on a number of occasions provided a path to healing for those who were caught up in the same war – on which ever side it happened to be.

His campaign for peace was situated largely in his activities with Mennonite Central Committee, his most significant and visible contribution to public life and to the church.
While having strong convictions, Dad also had high regard for the positions of others–at times even changing his position in light of strong counter arguments. 

But no one will describe Dad as having been a shrinking violet.
Not known for being timid, his voice was a voice not easily ignored.
At least in decibel level, we have inherited that.
But all of us are still on the path to develop a similar voice of conviction,
voices for justice in this world around us,
for love and respect in our homes and families,
for a yearning, a hope, and a faith to be with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
finally to hear the words:
Well done, my good and faithful servant.
May you rest in the LORD,
May you rest in peace.

And my Dad’s words during the sermon:

When I think of the trauma of having lived through the very first day to the very last day of the war- what he would have carried in terms of guilt, he was able to take to Jesus. And he found complete forgiveness. It’s that forgiveness that allowed God’s love to flow through him. I think if he hadn’t found that forgiveness, the flowing would have only been a trickle. He made a commitment that he would be a person of grace, joy and peace so that God’s healing and hope would flow through him to the world.

And also Uncle Martin’s part of the sermon:
I remember when he came back from one of his India trips. He talked about a small child who was under a piece of cardboard on the streets and he said, “Martin, that is one of my sons.” That is the Papi/Opa that we know.

He lived a life of striving for peace, for pursuing it, for reaching it and being hungry for it. And his demonstration of that was his incredible, enduring, unending commitment to the other, whoever the other was.

I didn’t know him as a proud or haughty father, but he pursued right living and challenged me not to do as he did, or even to live as he lived, but to pursue a life of following Jesus’ teaching. He once told me, “Martin, its simple and its hard, all at the same time. I have been called to love God and I have been called to love my neighbour and I can’t do that if I don’t live a life of peace. And that is your calling.”

And then my Dad ended his sermon with a quote from an interview of Opa where Opa said,
“In the end, Jesus will ask me, ‘did you feed me?’ I will be able to reply, ‘yes, I did.’”

It was so very hard to say goodbye to my dear Opa. I’m not sure I expected the goodbye to be so difficult, considering he was 101 and ready to die. But watching him descend into the earth as his loving sons stood there, tears bubbling over after they shoveled dirt on his rose-covered casket was almost more than I could handle.  I am extremely grateful I could fly home for his memorial service and cry with my Dad, my family, my cousins, uncles and aunts and say goodbye together.  It was a week that I deeply needed, for many reasons, and I am thankful.

I hope these words shared can continue to inspire us all to love others, stand up for injustice, forgive our enemies and trust in the reconciling Hope of Jesus, just like Opa’s life demonstrated. I will leave this post with another set of beautiful words written by one of my cousins and shared during the tribute. It speaks truth for so many of us who loved him and were impacted by him….

Opa, thank you for teaching me to forgive, to choose peace, and to see the good in all people. Thank you for teaching me about the importance of family. Thank you for passing these lessons to the generations that followed you. I'm not sure whether you always planned on it, but you have certainly left a legacy; it's one that our family is proud of and for which we are grateful.

I see you back with Oma, standing with your arm around her shoulder, just like the two of you would stand on the side of your mountain and wave goodbye as we'd leave your house in Agassiz, smiling, content, and full of love. Those happy images will be with me forever.

*if you would like to watch the whole service, or pieces of it, search on youtube "Siegfried Bartel memorial"