Middle East Consultation 2022

Peace I Leave with You: Theories and Practices for Peace Ministry in the Middle East

The Middle East Consultation (MEC) 2022 was a three-day online conversation, held between September 21 and 23, that aimed to deepen participants’ understanding of theory and practice of peace ministry in Middle Eastern societies. Consultation activities provided participants with opportunities to learn from the experiences and approaches of various Arab scholars and practitioners of peace ministry, explore dimensions of conflict confronting regional practitioners, and discuss opportunities for engaging in contextualized ministries of peace.

Jesus had set his face towards the cross when he imparted these eternal words to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). It was a perplexing statement for someone heading towards sacrificial death, and it remains mystifying to us now amid a world of conflict and enmity. But the power of the cross and the victory of the resurrection change everything; Christ has opened us to a peace that challenges all worldly conventions by covering any seemingly hopeless situation. As the state of the Middle Eastern region worsens, the urgency to expand peace ministry grows. The Middle East Consultation 2022 aimed to engage this important topic in earnest during the event.

There are no simple explanations or quick solutions to the problems plaguing the Middle East. Each unique context in the region carries a myriad of dimensions requiring us to ask the right sets of questions for examining ways of thinking about biblical peace. Worldly logic may argue that peace is an elusive dream or unattainable ideal, but authentic faith in Christ compels us to take hold of the gospel’s promises of peace as we seek to discover how God is at work. Churches, faith organizations, and individual believers across the region are living testimonies of God’s peaceful presence demonstrating the kingdom and its values in countless ways. Their contributions to peace ministry point to an eschatological hope described in Isaiah 9:7: There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.

Faithful living means conforming our thoughts and attitudes to Christ, and this is certainly the case regarding peace. Biblical peace ministry can be understood as the work of unlocking human potential by moving people, communities, and nations into healthier dynamics of shared life. This outreach proceeds from deep convictions that the gospel involves holistic responses to any situation where sin inflicts strife, oppression, hatred, and mistrust- everything antithetical to the restorative work of God. Paradigms for peace ministry must therefore recognize the need to break barriers and seek peace across personal, group, and national levels. Though we fully acknowledge that a flawless world devoid of conflict is impossible on this side of the new creation, we must continually generate hopeful anticipation of how God is working through conflict for redemptive purposes as we embrace invitations to partner with God by living out Christ-honoring works of peace.