Resident still striving for peace

Even though he’s retired, Gene Stoltzfus, former director of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), still is determined to bring peace to world.
Stoltzfus, who now lives just west of Fort Frances, will be heading to Washington, D.C. next week to participate in “Shine the Light,” a CPT event focusing “on torture, hostage-taking, and abuse of detainees in an ongoing effort to expose the shadowy scourge of war and end the U.S. occupation of Iraq.”
Beginning Jan. 15 (the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and running through to Jan. 29, the CPT will initiate several dramatic processions starting at key institutions which are involved in war-making and ending at the White House, with a brief prayer service.
Each day, the participants will carry candles or battery-powered flashlights and walk in “prayerful” silence following a torch-bearer “shining the light” on a hooded detainee—symbolically representing those who have been held captive by war and occupation.
And Stoltzfus, along with the CPT, is inviting any supporters to join in their efforts in Washington.
“Church groups, youth groups, seniors, university students, peace clubs, community groups” are encouraged to attend, whether it be for a couple of days or two weeks, noted Stoltzfus.
“We’re just trying to keep the conversation out there,” he said, adding after a morning of prayer and preparation, each afternoon will consist of a two-mile procession.
Anyone wishing to attend can call 1-312-933-0546 or visit light@cpt.org
Stoltzfus also stressed many actions can be demonstrated at home to “highlight the devastating cost of this war sustained by victims on many fronts.”
For instance, similar processions could be organized here, led by a torch-bearer and illuminating a hooded “captive” in an effort to expose institutions that support, sponsor, or benefit from torture, abuse of detainees, and war-making.
As well, challenging legislators, government officials, and corporate executives can help change the course of war in the world.
Any “Shine the Light” actions organized in the community can be registered at www.cpt.org/iraq/response/shinethelight.php, where samples of prayers and leaflets also are available.
In addition, Stoltzfus’ blog—“Peace Talk”—encourages the need of prayer groups for the larger issue of detainees and terrorism, as well as for the four CPT members who were kidnapped Nov. 26 in Baghdad and whose fate remains unknown.
The four captives include two Canadians, Jim Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, as well as Briton Norman Kember, 74, and American Tom Fox, 54.
To the best of his knowledge, Stoltzfus said there has not been any direct communication with the four detainees although families and religious bodies are continuing visible work toward their release.
“We need 1,000 peacemaker prayer groups in Christian congregations and parishes right now,” the blog states. “Go to your pastor, priest, or Christian education director and say, ‘I want to invite a group of four-eight people to join me for a weekly peacemaker prayer and action.’”
Stoltzfus noted prayer and peace action does not require a lot of higher education or money to get started, and that it would be wonderful if people locally could get involved.
“It does require discipline, continuity, diversity of talents, and perspectives,” the blog notes. “You can do this and be renewed in the journey.
“Don’t hide what you are doing even if you suspect that it might lead to conflict. This is God’s work,” it adds.
Stoltzfus stressed it’s important to try to fashion your prayer group so that it includes young and old, male and female.
“If churches don’t follow through, it ends up being a sermon,” he said in an interview Friday. “I hope to get the message out.”
He added a lot of people continue to have hope in the situation regarding detainees, but admitted it’s hard to keep up the energy.
Still, the CPT remains hard at work in Baghdad and Stoltzfus believes the more support they can get, whether it be in Washington, at home, or through prayer, the more the “light will be able to keep shining.”

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