March 6, 2004 - Nashua Telegraph: Botswana RPCV Joni Overton-Jung is facilitator and speaker for the Children of Abraham program

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Botswana: Peace Corps Botswana : The Peace Corps in Botswana: March 6, 2004 - Nashua Telegraph: Botswana RPCV Joni Overton-Jung is facilitator and speaker for the Children of Abraham program

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Botswana RPCV Joni Overton-Jung is facilitator and speaker for the Children of Abraham program

Botswana RPCV Joni Overton-Jung is facilitator and speaker for the Children of Abraham program

Peace is at the heart of Children of Abraham

Published: Saturday, Mar. 6, 2004

Can I as a person in Milford make a difference to bringing peace to the Middle East? What is at the heart of peace building? How can you effectively bring together those of different faiths in a meaningful dialog? And what can we do in our own communities that will make a lasting difference for peace?

These questions are at the heart of this year’s program sponsored by the Nashua and Souhegan interfaith councils – Children of Abraham, Pathways to Peace. It will be presented in three sessions on March 14, 21, and 28.

Phillip Walker will be the speaker for the first two sessions, focusing on the Psychology of Peacemaking and Faith, Law and Love in the three Abrahamic religions.

As a former U.S. diplomat, he has spent time working in Israel and with the Palestinian authority and most recently has spent time in Iraq. Walker has worked in these areas to build legal institutions that could become foundations for peace.

But peace, Walker says, has to come from more than the technical work of building these institutions.

“The seed of peace starts with a willingness in your heart to take a leap of faith,” Walker said. “That leap of faith I talk about is the willingness to see things from the other point of view – to see the other side as human beings with their own wants needs, feelings. It’s an act of stepping out of your own context, stepping out of your cul-de-sac into another’s shoes.”

Walker has seen this move toward peace between individuals in Israel and the Palestinians, despite the political situation. He remembers seeing the warm affection between his Israeli taxi driver and some Arab cabbies when they met at a gas station en route to East Jerusalem. The Arab cabbies were concerned for the Israeli driver’s safety in the Arab section and offered help if he wanted to come over to the area again.

“What struck me was the genuine affection that existed between these rather rough men,” said Mr. Walker. “They knew each other, understood each other and had worked out their own peace as cabbies, not as Arabs and Israelis.”

On March 28, the Children of Abraham program continues with an interactive workshop on “Forging Paths to Peace.” The workshop facilitator and speaker is Joni Overton-Jung, a former Peace Corps worker. Today, as a Christian Science healer and teacher, she speaks to audiences about how spirituality can bring healing and a lasting peace. Like Walker, Overton-Jung also feels that prayer opens the door to peace in the world and in our individual lives.

“Peace building starts in our hearts,” she said, speaking from her home in Toronto, Canada. “I think that peace can never be legislated. It isn’t an external thing, it’s something we cultivate from the inside out.”

In her workshop, the audience will have a chance to explore together how we can cultivate this peace and translate it into action in our lives.

“I think that there are some practical things that can help us begin to discover the wealth of peace that’s at hand right now,” Overton-Jung said. She describes these things as taking time for stillness, trying to see things from another person’s perspective and exercising kindness. “Kindness is rooted in love. Love is at the heart of peace,” she said.

She found out how changing her view of another person helped to turn around a tense situation.

She was in the Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa during the height of Apartheid in South Africa. Young soldiers were stationed at checkpoints at the entrances of many of the major cities and towns.

One day, while riding in the back of a truck with other passengers, Overton-Jung and others needed to get out of the truck to be searched at a checkpoint. That particular day she remembered feeling particularly impatient with the whole ordeal and irritated at the soldiers. The soldiers were also agitated that day for some reason.

Without knowing why, Overton-Jung was separated from the group and held at gunpoint. She remembered that at that point, all she could do was pray.

“I began to pray and reach out with every ounce of my being for a sense of God’s complete love and government of that situation,” she says now. She added that she included the soldiers in her prayers.

“The first thing it did was neutralize my fear,” she continued. “And the second thing it did was change my whole perspective of the man who was pointing the gun in my face. I just wasn’t afraid. I felt love for him.”

The situation became less tense and Overton-Jung was allowed to rejoin the group.

The Children of Abraham programs will be held March 14 and 21 from 4-6 p.m. at the Messiah Lutheran church, 303 Route 101, Amherst and March 28 from 4-6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, Manchester Street, Nashua.

The workshop will end with prayers, candle-lighting and a communal dinner.

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Story Source: Nashua Telegraph

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Botswana; Peaceworking



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