Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Faith and Conflict 2018

We ran a Faith and Conflict in 2014, and Jonny Clark from YWAM Rostrevor has been on me ever since to run another one. I never felt it was the right time until this year. This year, the Discipleship Training School (DTS) that is being run in Croatia is focusing on Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia as well, and so we decided that this week long conference would be part of the DTS and we would also see if anyone else wanted to come along for this journey of understanding... and they did!

Even though Jonny couldn't come at the last minute, and he was supposed to be the main speaker, everything still turned out OK. We had great local input from different people telling their stories, from how they were in the army from the beginning to the end of the war without having a gun to dodging bullets in Sarajevo, to becoming a refugee. We also had two great speakers from Northern Ireland fill in for Jonny: Walter and Alex, and they shared more about the topic of reconciliation and the key role of forgiveness.

We physically (as well as mentally and spiritually!) went on a journey through Bosnia and Herzegovina, starting in Banja Luka: Here we are in front of the Orthodox church.
 Then moving to Sarajevo - where we enjoyed some better weather :)
We finished off in Mostar, and were so impacted by how divided the city still is. One of the people telling their stories said "here the war hasn't ended yet". It just brought home how much still has to change here.
For me, it was so impactful how we kept taking the BIG picture and then making it personal. So, conflict happens between people groups when there is an "us" and a "them" and the same thing is true in our lives. How much do I make a difference in my own life between a group I am part of and a group I am not part of. A silly example was when one of the girls started bragging how much better it was to be on the top bunk (we were sleeping in bunks in one of the churches in Sarajevo) and those people on the bottom bunks were all losing out... There was the us and them!

In our lives, we need to be living not with us and them, but just us... we are all in this together and need each other to get along. It is easier to build walls than bridges - but we need to build bridges to survive!!

It was a fantastic week, and even though there was a lot of work to organise all the logistics in 3 cities, it was worth it to show everyone the riches of beauty in this country - not just in the physical geography, but also in its people!

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