We had a less-packed day today — a peaceful day devoted to peace clubs.
A peace club in prison
I hope I have this story right because it seems like the greatest thing I have ever heard. An MCC service worker, Kajungu Mturi, from Tanzania was assigned to do peace work in the Choma, Zambia area. He was interested In applying the peace club curriculum in schools developed by Issa Ebombolo of the Congo. He had an inspiration to apply it to the local prison and asked the superintendent for permission. He met with skepticism. That man was replaced and the new leader immediately called him back to tell him he wanted the program implemented immediately. I felt privileged to hear from both men this morning.
The work is strangely successful. We heard from the most recent leader of the club from among the prisoners. He told us about the five modules: conflict, violence, cross gender violence, reconciliation, and trauma healing. They come at it as Christians (the Zambian BIC peace coordinator will probably be instrumental in keeping the program going when the service worker is gone). This is peace evangelism. People accept their wrongs. Often the offended are brought to the prison before the sentence is complete so amends can be made. They re-enter society as transformed people, not vengeful recidivists.
The MCC folks did a study that validated their success in fomenting transformation. When the President of Zambia does his general pardons to reduce prison overcrowding, members of the peace club are first to be pardoned. The warden is happy to repeatedly be number one in pardons. Now another warden wants training to start peace clubs. The warden and teachers would love it if donors built them a classroom In which they could hold their classes, including the ones that teach the peace club curriculum — they even hope to open the peace curriculum to the community to learn alongside the prisoners.
A SALTer and her peace clubs in schools
Brook Strayer took us to a BICC school to tell us about her work on peace clubs in school. Although she had never heard a sermon on peace in her home church growing up and her senior paper on the BIC U.S as a peace church did not encourage her, she still felt she should contribute to teaching the way of peace. She is applying the Issa Ebombolo curriculum as it was first intended, to teach children alternatives to unreconciled conflict and violence. In the boarding school, this is very useful. It is useful all over the world. There are not only clubs in Africa, they exist in Colombia and Laos, we heard. I wonder if they will ever move into the Northern Hemisphere more widely? We could use them in Philly.
Apparently, one pastor answered Brook’s questionnaire for her research paper by saying he would discourage people from attending Messiah College because she did this investigation! Another said Jesus was not concerned with peacemaking so we should not be either. I suppose those responders need to be in a peace club, learning to deal with their anger, how to respond when they feel threatened, how to practically apply what it means to love people who are enemies, and how to follow the Lord, who is our peace — not just peace with God, but with others, the Lord who blesses the peacemakers.
The other Africa posts:
First thoughts from Zimbabwe
Being poor is tough
Going around doing good
Coming up against the powers
The food chain
The work of the Lord
Showing God’s love in practical ways