Middle East Consultation 2023

My Peace I Give You: Practicing Peacemaking in the Middle East

The purpose of Middle East Consultation 2023 was to explore peacemaking practices in the Middle East amidst personal, communal, and national conflicts. We discussed the successes and failures, achievements, and shortcomings of these practices through a biblical contextual lens to better equip the Church as it seeks the multi-layered transformation of societies.
MEC 2022 highlighted peacemaking theories that targeted the cultural challenges that peacemaking ministries face in the Middle East. In February 2023, the theories helped us train a group of key Arab Church leaders who implemented, observed, and analyzed these theories contextually. MEC 2023 built on this process by offering a platform to present this data as a framework for emerging biblical contextual models of peacemaking.

The Consultation this year was held over three days starting September 25 in a hybrid format (online and in-person) leading up to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development starting on the evening of the 27th.

MEC 2023 sought to deepen participants’ understanding of peacemaking theory and practice in Arab societies. It sought to provide learning opportunities drawn from the experiences of various Arab theologians and practitioners in peacemaking, explore dimensions of conflict facing regional ministries, and discuss opportunities to engage in peacemaking initiatives across the Arab world.

Accordingly, MEC 2023 hosted several panelists who are experienced practitioners in peacemaking from Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon. A peacemaking paradigm was addressed regarding three different dimensions – inner peace, group peace, and national peace. This was followed by workshops for contextual and practical initiatives. Conversations produced panel discussions on specific topics that helped us develop the presented theories in a manner aligned with Scripture and address the culture of honor and shame in our societies.

Internal peace:Peace in this regard consists of a state of personal well-being rather than the mere absence of challenging conditions. We heard how leaders addressed inner peace through the immense challenge of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria that created much instability, fear, suffering, and death.

Communal peace: Human beings are deeply interconnected. We live out our full humanity through relationality. It is in our relationality that we aim to be moral, compassionate, and social. As we addressed communal peace, we looked at how leaders dealt with social issues in their contexts. We also heard about how leaders addressed gender issues in Sudan, inter-religious tensions in Egypt, disunity in Lebanon, and barriers to reconciliation in Iraq.

National peace: Striving towards this kind of peace in such complicated contexts as the Middle East leads us to expose unhealthy national patterns as we seek to build new relational dynamics characterized by reconciliation and forgiveness. We heard about peacemaking initiatives in Lebanon focusing on dealing with the memory of the past, multiple narratives, and current challenges.