THE PEACE PIPE
A very remarkable peace commission has been created in the City of Sialkot. Its purpose is to collectively work toward promoting, supporting and enforcing peace efforts among the diverse religious, ethnic, cultural, etc., groups in the city.
Anwar is the one Christian who is recognized as being a leader of influence and integrity selected to serve on the executive steering committee of thirty or so; over 100 members are part of the commission. With the exception of a Hindu man and Anwar, all are Muslims, including a dozen Mullahs and Imams. As a result of Anwar’s relationship Dave and I were invited to sit in on an official meeting of the Peace Commission.
I had brought a traditional “peace pipe” with me, looking for the Holy Spirit to show me the right time, place and person to give it to. This was it. As I took the pipe out of my bag and connected the red pipestone to the stem, I shared with the committee that in important meetings it was used to affirm ones pledge to truth telling.
As I was mulling over a bunch of thoughts to share, I felt the Holy Spirit give me a picture. In Pakistan marriages happen as a result of love, or most frequently arrangements between families. I said it seemed as though America and Pakistan are in a relationship as a result of the will of God. Though it is frequently a love / hate relationship, at this point in history we are nonetheless integrally connected as nations. As such we have a responsibility to work for understanding and peace between us.
I said I was speaking words of truth that there are First Nations followers of Jesus in America who are willing to walk with love and peace toward our “global neighbors” in Pakistan. My brief words were received with enthusiasm and appreciation. As we then departed the conference room for a group photo many of them shook my hand and thanked me.
After the conclusion of the committee meeting we moved to the DPO’s office for some final words and farewells. A Mullah and two other Muslim leaders were also sitting with us as we waited for the DPO to return. I asked several questions in between periods of silence. I felt to ask them, since we were all here, if there were any questions they would like to ask Dave and me and it was like the dam broke, releasing a flood of impassioned questions. One Muslim leader asked why Americans, in particular George Bush as a Christian leader, hated Muslims so much.
As First Nations leaders, we told them we shared their concerns and readily identify with America being an imperial power, wreaking genocide among our nations in the name of God, the bible and manifest destiny. This fact opens their hearts and minds, as well as lends credibility to our responses. We are then able to tell them that it is Jesus who gives us the power to forgive our enemies and pray for those who are acting wrongly/unjustly towards us. We then attempted to offer some perspectives as to why the American government makes the decisions it does.
However, after our critique of America, we point to fact that the Pakistani government makes similar decisions that make no sense to the average American, yet they are made, in their view with their best interest nationally and regarding foreign policy. Even Pakistani’s religious leaders make decisions that do not make sense.
As a example of the love/hate relationship, I was told that some ten years ago, the United States held a lottery for 100,000 free visas in Pakistan to the United States. Millions of people registered with the great hope of moving to/visiting America. The Muslim leaders said they do not hate the American people, but the policies of the United States government.
Because Pakistan enjoys “preferred trading status” as an economic partner with the US, there is heaps of American business interest in Pakistan.* McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chevrolets’ and signs of America are emerging. It has inexpensive labor, minimal environmental laws and ready access to natural resources; a perfect formula for neo-colonial economic “partnership.”
I believe Jesus was pleased and honored by our words. Dave, later “gifted” the DPO and Mullah as we prepared to leave and we shared some words of blessing and peace. As we left the police headquarter, the DPO hugged and kissed us, sending us with his prayers and friendship.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace! May we walk in peace toward all human beings, created in the likeness and image of the Almighty.
We traveled to three different communities and spoke at four different church services. Two were in small, walled outdoor courtyards with a PA system blasting out worship in the middle of Muslim neighborhoods for all to hear (standard operating procedure). In one village there was a dozen or two people standing on rooftops and sitting on the walls observing and listening to the worship time. Though it is an Islamic Republic, the church enjoys a high degree of freedom to gather and worship openly.
The Pakistani followers of Jesus worship with such intensity and passion. I love their music. It has a uniquely Indian flavor sung typically to a harmonium and tabala drums. A harmonium is a kind of miniature harpsichord / accordion turned on its side that is operated using a hinged back panel that serves as a bellow to create air that moves over something to create the notes. (Better check it out on the Internet for a better idea).
It is estimated as much a 10% of the population are known followers of Jesus. The percentage would be higher if those who were “secret” followers of Jesus could be counted. Though they must exist under the constant threat of possible harm by Muslim extremists, they openly and courageously live their daily lives as followers of Jesus.
It was very humbling at times to worship together with them knowing this was true. One evening as we worshipped, I was moved to tears. Something welled up inside me as we they were singing a particular song and I began to weep, quietly sobbing. My love for Jesus seemed so overwhelming. Because they were singing in Urdu, I later asked what the words meant and was told it was an invitation to the Holy Spirit to fill them.
Anwar had assembled most of his team of pastors, evangelists and workers so Dave and I could meet and share with them. After we spoke, I told them if I could ask for a gift, it would be for them to sing that song. It had the same effect, as I sat in front of the people, again weeping before the Lord in deep gratitude and worship.
I have a deep appreciation and love for our Pakistani brothers and sisters in Jesus. We will continue returning and building our relationship with Anwar and his team of Christ followers, supporting them in whatever ways we can.
I want to say thank you to those who prayed and gave financially to help make our visit and huge success.